In a May 2012 interview with CNBC, Sam Oches, the managing editor of QSR Magazine explained the success behind the popularity of comfort foods in the market, including the grilled cheese: “The reason that a lot of these items are taking hold is because of that comfort food factor.” He continued, “Comfort food really resonates with people — eating something that is really cathartic, something that really resonates with the past is something that most people enjoy doing.”
The staple comfort food has recently been publicly pushed into new levels of experimentation, taste, and form. Small eateries, food trucks, and even chains like “The Melt” have extended the grilled cheese into the welcoming grasp of self-described “foodies,” or food aficionados. Creating grilled cheese sandwiches with artisan breads, fresh produce, and premium cheeses, these operations are searching out a successful hybrid of comfort and culinary zeal for a discerning palette.
For example, at “The Melt” locations, you can get a “Brie w/ Apple Butter on Country French” or a “Pepper Jack w/ Jalapeños on Sourdough.” At the “Grilled Cheese Nation” Food Truck that makes its way around Boston, you can order a “Brie Me Up” which contains sliced pears and melted brie on an “Organic Wheat Pain de Mie Bread.” At Bubba’s, a bar and grill in Traverse City, Michigan, you can bite into a “Grilled Cheese for Grown-Ups” sandwich with melted havarti, white cheddar, tomatoes, and avocado between two slices of wheat bread.
If, as the New York Times stated, the “Grilled cheese is the new black” for foodies, cheese makers may be interested in checking out this trend further in their respective parts of the country. Placing this staple comfort food into the realm of adult menu choices represents an interesting food trend for the dairy industry. Will the gourmet grilled cheese be a passing fad, or have we seen a permanent breakthrough in bridging dining-out adults and a standard taste of home? Only time will tell, but in the meantime the grills are going, and kids and adults alike are asking for “grilled cheese, please.”