History of Cheese, Cream Cheese and Sour Cream Alternatives (With or Without Soy) (1896-2013)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-61-7

Publication Date: 2013 Oct. 22

Number of References in Bibliography: 1270

Earliest Reference: 1896

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Brief chronology of cheese alternatives:
This industry was born and raised largely in the United States. Its history, like that of other dairy alternatives, is fairly short.

Cheese alternatives are Western-style cheeselike products that contain a significant amount of non-dairy protein, typically from soybeans, nuts, or seeds. They may or may not contain casein or caseinates (the main protein found in milk, which causes cheese to melt and stretch). No one has yet figured out how to make soy protein melt or stretch. The hard cheese alternatives that contain casein typically melt, stretch, and shred in much the same way as dairy cheeses. We distinguish cheese alternatives from imitation cheeses and cheese substitutes in which the butterfat is typically removed and replaced by vegetable oil or by no fat at all.

The world's first non-dairy cheeselike products were the various types of fermented tofu made in China (where they are called doufu-ru, fuyu, or sufu). Said to have been developed 1,400 to 1,500 years ago, they were first mentioned in documents during the Ming dynasty in China in the 1500s (Chin Kan. 1534. Messenger to Ryukyu; Li Shih-chen. 1578-1597. Bencao Gangmu). Since we consider fermented tofu (formerly sometimes called "soy cheese") to belong to a different category of foods from cheese alternatives (in part since the former do not melt), we discuss them in a separate book.

The main benefits of cheese alternatives: Dairy cheeses contain lactose (a major problem for those suffering from lactose intolerance) and are high in cholesterol and generally high in total fat, saturated fat, calories and salt. Cheese alternatives (even if they contain casein or caseinates) are free of lactose and cholesterol, low in fat, low in calories, and relatively low in salt. Those which contain casein or sodium caseinate are unacceptable to vegans (vegetarians who eat no dairy products, eggs, or other animal products), and to those keeping kosher, but those which do not are a welcome innovation. Sour cream, cheesecake, and sour cream alternatives never contain casein or caseinates.

Perhaps most important is that true cheese alternatives do not involve the exploitation of animals.

The main disadvantage of cheese alternatives is their somewhat higher price than dairy cheese.

1896 – Nuttose, the first commercial cheese alternative in the Western world, is invented and made by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the famous Seventh-day Adventist physician and vegetarian. Made largely from peanuts, it was a true non-dairy product that was also used as a meat alternative.

1910 Dec. 30 – Li Yu-ying (a Chinese national, scientist and engineer, residing north of Paris, France), in British Patent No. 30,275 states: "For obtaining fermented cheese such as roquefort, parmesan [Parmesan], romatour [Rahmatour; Bavarian cream cheese], camambert [Camembert], and gruyere, suitable ferments are employed."
1911 – The next commercial soy cheeses in the Western world are developed and made Li Yu-ying. At his modern soyfoods factory near Paris, Li manufactured Fermented Tofu Cheese in Gruyère, Roquefort and Camembert flavors (Scientific American Supplement. 1911. Aug. 19. p. 115).
1934 April – The idea of cream cheese alternatives is first conceived of by Seventh-day Adventist, Jethro Kloss. The Miami Daily News reported how approximately 6,000 people had recently heard him speak about dairylike foods made from soy beans at Bayfront Park. He exhibited 21 foods made from soy beans (including cream cheese, yellow cheese, and cottage cheese) and invited the public to taste them.
Between 1911 and 1970 most of the commercial cheese alternatives in the USA were made by Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) companies; although called “soy cheese” and the like, and often used them like cheese, they were actually tofu. Though we know the names of these early products, their ingredients and properties are not always clear.
1936 Dec. – Soy sour cream (Sojasauerrahm) is first mentioned by Glassman and Gologarskaja in Odessa, USSR.
1938 Nov. – The Wigmore Health Shop in London is now making the world's first Soya Cream Cheese.
1939 – Madison Foods (SDA, Madison, Tennessee) introduces Cheze-O-Soy, based on tofu.
1942 – Butler Food Co. (SDA, Cedar Lake, Michigan) launches ViM-eat Soy-Nut Cheese and in 1944 Butler's Soynut Cheese.
1948 or 1949 – Casein becomes classified as a chemical and a non-dairy product by the U.S. government (not the Federal Trade Commission), at about the same time that price supports for dairy products begin. At the time it is used almost exclusively for industrial applications (such as adhesives and sizings) rather than in foods. Today about 80% of the casein in America is used for foods – mainly imitation cheeses, whip toppings, and other imitation dairy products, plus medical and nutritional products prescribed by doctors. The remaining 20% is used for industrial purposes – mainly adhesives and sizings.
As of 1992 there are no companies in the USA that make casein; government price supports for milk price it out of the world market. The last U.S. manufacturer, Land O'Lakes, stopped in the 1970s. All casein used today in America is imported, mainly from New Zealand, Ireland, France and the Netherlands (Petka 1992).
1951 – Loma Linda Foods (SDA, Arlington, California) rolls out Vege-Chee (canned, based on tofu).
1961 – Worthington Foods (SDA, Worthington, Ohio) introduces Kreem-Chee, the world's second commercial non-dairy cream cheese.
1971 – The first two commercial tofu cheesecakes are created by students of macrobiotics: One by Marcea Newman is sold at her Souen restaurant in New York; the other by David Kalan (named Tofu Blueberry Pie) is sold at his Crane's Call Bakery in Boston.
1974 – The first two recipes for a soy cheesecake appear. One by Marcea Newman (made with tofu) in her book The Sweet Life: Marcea Newman's Natural Food Dessert Book; the other by The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee (made with soy cheese, from naturally fermented/soured soymilk) in their booklet Yay Soybeans!
1975 The term "Tofu Cheesecake" (with a recipe) first appears in The Book of Tofu by Shurtleff and Aoyagi.
1976 – Howard Grundland of Sprucetree Baking Co. (near Baltimore, Maryland) introduces Tofu Creme Pie (with Blueberry or Strawberry Topping). With improvements by Louis Fellman it becomes perhaps the most delectable tofu cheesecake ever made.
1985 March – The modern category of commercial soy cheeses and cheese alternatives is born under a bad sign (Medoff 1986). It begins in America in March 1985 with the introduction of Soyarella – probably the most deceptive soyfood product ever launched in America. Although extremely popular for about a year, it was unfortunately mislabeled to deliberately deceive consumers. Though marketed as a "non-dairy soy product" which contained no casein yet melted like cheese, it was later found to contain about 15% casein.
The "source" of Soyarella (not to be confused with TofuRella) is thought to have been Nature's Best in Osseo, Michigan. But the name of the manufacturer was not given on the label – and it remains a mystery to this day.
In America, this new category has a number of basic characteristics: (1) Casein (a milk protein) or caseinates is used in more than 95% of all products to make them melt and stretch like dairy cheeses. Less than 5% of all products are truly non-dairy; (2) In the late 1980s, most manufacturers, marketers, and retailers deliberately concealed from consumers the fact that casein is derived from cow's milk (complicated by the fact that FDA regulations allow food products that contain casein to be called "non-dairy"); (3) Many consumers believe that most cheese alternatives are truly non-dairy products. Fortunately, labels and promotional materials have become more honest with each passing year - yet many consumers still remain confused and some deceptive practices still exist; (4) All products are free of cholesterol and lactose, and relatively low in saturated fats. Some are also low in total fats, calories, and sodium; (5) About 95% of the products are soy cheeses and 5% are nut or seed cheeses without soy. Most products contain tofu (either dried or fresh) as a major ingredient; (6) Most products are sold at natural- or health food stores, and retail for about 50% more than typical dairy cheese sold at supermarkets; (7) About 95% of the products are hard cheeses and 5% are soft cheeses, mainly cream cheeses.
1986 Jan. – The first major soy cheese to hit the market is Soya Kaas – a landmark product. It was developed and introduced by Richard McIntyre of Soya Kaas Inc., a subsidiary of Swan Gardens Inc. Marketed exclusively by American Natural Snacks of Florida, it is still America's most popular cheese alternative.
1986 June – Mozzarella Style Tofu-Rella is launched by Richard and Sharon Rose of Brightsong Foods of northern California. In about 1990 the company was renamed Sharon's Finest and the product was renamed TofuRella.
1986 Oct. – Original Pizsoy (a whole-wheat pizza topped with soy cheese) is introduced by Tree Tavern Products; it is the first product in which soy cheese is used as an ingredient.
1987 Jan. – Soymage is introduced by Soyco Foods, a Division of Galaxy Cheese Co.; This is Soyco's first soy cheese product and the first modern soy cheese that contains no casein.
1987 April – NûTofu is introduced by Cemac Foods Corp. This is Cemac's first soy cheese product.
1988 April - Soyco shreds and slices are introduced - the first soy cheese shreds and slices.
1988 Nov. – Soyco Foods introduces the first grated soy cheese; it is sold in shakers and contains casein.
1988 – New labels for Sharon's Finest Tofu-Rella become the first (as far as we can tell) to state clearly on the label that the casein in the product is derived from milk.
1990 Nov. 8 – Nutrition, Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 is signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. The law gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to require nutrition labeling of most foods regulated by the Agency. This act unfortunately does not make it illegal to characterize on the label as "nondairy" a product which contains casein or caseinate. But it does deal with this problem as follows (21 CFR Ch. 1(4-1-93 Edition), p. 21). 101.4 (d) "When foods characterized on the label as 'nondairy' contain a caseinate ingredient, the caseinate ingredient shall be followed by a parenthetical statement identifying its source. For example, if the manufacturer uses the term 'nondairy' on a creamer that contains sodium caseinate, it shall include a parenthetical term such as 'milk derivative' after the listing of sodium caseinate in the ingredient list."
1991 Jan. – Fat-Free Soyco is introduced – the first fat-free soy cheese.
1992 March 27 – Tree of Life purchases Soya Kaas, Inc. (founded by Richard McIntyre). American Natural Snacks (ANS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tree of Life) was McIntyre's only customer; they had an exclusive arrangement.
1992 Sept. – Soyco Foods introduces Soymage Grated Parmesan Cheese Alternative; it is 100% dairy free and casein free.
1992 Dec. – Almond Cheeze is introduced by Wholesome & Hearty Foods - the first major non-soy cheese alternative in modern times.
1994 April – VeganRella (made from Brazil nuts) is introduced by Sharon's Finest – a true non-dairy non-soy cheese said to have excellent flavor and texture.
1994 April – The size of the natural foods cheese alternatives market in the USA is about $15 million/year at wholesale and $25 million/year at retail; this is the equivalent of about 5 million lb/year. The category has grown at a remarkable rate – about 20% a year for the past 3-5 years.
According to Packaged Facts (1995): Sales of cheese alternatives (in million dollars at retail) rose from $12.0 in 1989 to $17.3 in 1991 to $25.0 in 1993 and $28.8 in 1994. The average annual sales growth for this period was 19.1%.
1994 Sept. – Sharon’s Finest introduces HempRella (with casein), the first cheese made with hemp. There is no trace of THC (the bioactive/psychedelic substance in marijuana) in the product; the company had it tested by the U.S. government.
1999 March – Richard Rose establishes HempNut, Inc., a new company to handle all of his work with legal hemp in a variety of fields, mostly food.
2005 Feb. – Wholesoy & Co. of San Francisco, California, launches Cream Cheese Style Soy Spread.
The many names of soy cheese, soy cream cheese, tofu cheesecake, and soy sour cream (helpful for digital searching)
Artificial cheese
Cheese alternative
Cheese analog
Cheese substitute
Engineered cheese
Imitation cheese
Imitation sour cream
Sour cream substitute
Soya cheese
Soya Kaas
SoyaRella or Soya Rella
Soybean cheese
Soy cheese
Soy sour cream
Tofu cheese
Tofu sour cream
Soya cream cheese
Soybean cream cheese
Soy cream cheese
Tofu cream cheese
Soy Cheesecake
Tofu Cheesecake
Tofu Cream Pie

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