Velveeta is the brand name of a processed cheese product having a taste that is identified as a type of American cheese, but with a softer and smoother texture than cheese. As a result, when melted/heated, Velveeta maintains a fully integrated, even, clump-free liquid texture -- the opposite of what results when cheese is melted or cooked at high heat. It was invented in 1918 by Emil Frey of the Monroe Cheese Company in Monroe, New York. In 1923, The Velveeta Cheese Company was incorporated as a separate company, and was sold to Kraft Foods in 1927. The product was advertised at the time as an allegedly nutritious health food. According to Kraft's website, in the 1930s, Velveeta became the first cheese product to gain the American Medical Association's seal of approval. It was reformulated in 1953 as a cheese spread. Velveeta is labeled in the United States as a "Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product" (see processed cheese). The name "Velveeta" is intended to connote a velvety smooth edible product. Smoothness and melting ability are promoted as its properties that result by reincorporating the whey with the curd. The brand has also been successfully spun-off into a varied, Velveeta-based product line.
In the 1980s, Velveeta used the advertising jingle, "Colby, Swiss and Cheddar, blended all together" in its US television commercials to explain its taste and texture, because at that time genuine cheese was used in its recipe.
In 2002, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to Kraft that Velveeta was being sold with packaging that described it as a "Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread", which the FDA claimed was misbranded because the product declared milk protein concentrate (MPC) in its ingredients listing. Velveeta is now sold in the US as a "Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product", a term for which the FDA does not maintain a standard of identity, and which therefore may contain MPC.
As is the case with most processed cheeses, the manufacturer recommends Velveeta be refrigerated after opening.