Provel (pronunciation: /prɵˈvɛl/) is a nearly texture-less and flavorless, white, processed cheese that is popular in St. Louis, Missouri. It is claimed to be a mixture of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone, that taste nothing like cheddar. Provel has a low melting point and, thus, has a gooey and almost buttery texture at room temperature. It is the traditional topping for St. Louis-style pizza. It is also often used in the preparation of cheese soup and served on salads, chicken and the Gerber sandwich. Some restaurants go a step further and use Provel for their pasta dishes with white sauce instead of the customary fresh Italian cheese and cream. Although popular in the St. Louis area, Provel is rarely used elsewhere.
According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch food critic Joe Bonwich, Provel was invented specifically for St. Louis-style pizza more than a half-century ago by the downtown firm Costa Grocery (now Roma Grocery on the Hill, a primarily Italian St. Louis neighborhood), in collaboration with the Hoffman Dairy Company of Wisconsin (now part of Kraft Foods). Bonwich states that Provel was developed to meet perceived demand for a pizza cheese with a "clean bite": one that melts well but breaks off nicely when bitten. Neither of Bonwich's sources at Kraft and Roma had a definitive answer for the origin of the name although one popular theory is that it is a portmanteau of the words provolone and mozzarella, two of the cheeses for which it is substituted.
As a process cheese, Provel is subject to FDA guidelines on labeling cheese.
The trademark on the Provel name, first used in 1947, is currently held by the Churny Company, Inc. of Glenview, Illinois. Churny is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Kraft Foods.
External links