Searching for a five pound unsliced loaf of "Kraft American Yellow Cheese Loaf" was one of my first quests around 1987. Back in the 50's in the NYC Metro area, the predominant "American Cheese" you saw at deli counters and diners was Kraft American Yellow Cheese Loaf, unsliced. It was available in both white and yellow and stiff, as PNWCHEF noted. It did not keep long; it got hard right away as opposed to the presliced stuff they sell today. I really didn't notice any difference between the yellow and white versions. I remember hearing some scuttlebutt that it was for appearance purposes only. As was mentioned by others, the American cheese back then was a way the goverment got rid of surplus milk during the glory days of farm price supports. Then Kraft disappeared, to be replaced with brands like Starfield, Dorman's, Borden's, Land O' Lakes, New Yorker, supermarket house brands (generally terrible), and later private labeled (but not made by) Boar's Head, Dietz and Watson, Thumann's etc. This product always had a different mouth feel from any other so-called American cheese, including pre-sliced five pound loaves and anything packaged in the supermarket dairy case and called American Cheese. I did find the Kraft loaves from time-to-time in the New York area and also around the country after 1987, but Kraft seemed to have changed their formula. Currently, Boar's Head, and Dietz & Watson seem the closest to what I remember from the 50's and 60's. I don't know why Kraft disappeared from the NYC Metro area, but here are a few UPC numbers of the product. I was unable to find a description of the third product:
These may be sold through Kraft's supermarket sales operation and not their foodservice operation. Kraft's websites are not comprehensive; a wholesaler or foodservice distributor may be of help.
I also found a listing for a one pound package (21000-61676), but you have to buy in bulk: http://www.foodservicedirect.com/product.cfm/p/186075/Kraft-Deluxe-American-Cheese-Loaf-1-Pound.htm
I'd appreciate it if anyone who spots these items in their local food outlets tells me where they are.
EDIT: I removed Land O'Lakes name from current cheese since I see it is now a "product" (no longer meets federal labeling spec for American Cheese) made with such good stuff as Milk Protein Concentrate and Buttermilk.
As with pizza cheeses, I don't think restaurants were able to buy much pre-shredded cheese back then, they shredded it themselves.
<message edited by David_NYC on Thu, 03/17/11 1:43 PM>