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The Origins of Cream Cheese

Leah Koenig (and Gil Marks whom she used as her source) have, through no fault of their own, contributed to perpetuating the myth of cream cheese’s origin and development in America. (“Deconstructing Cheesecake,” June 10th). My forthcoming article in the journal, Food, Culture and Society, puts to rest these myths. Cream cheese was not “accidentally invented by William Lawrence in 1872.” Directions for making cream cheese can be found in a Pennsylvania newspaper as early as 1769 and in scores of American books, periodicals and cookbooks in the early 1800s. William A. Lawrence, was, however, the first to manufacture large quantities of cream cheese due to the technological transformation of the dairy industry during the second half of the 1800s. He first began manufacturing Neufchatel cheese in 1872 and, after being approached by the New York grocery firm, Park & Tilford, to put a richer and more delicate cheese on the market, began by 1875 to make Neufchatel with cream added to it. He called his product “Cream Cheese.” Lawrence was aided by a NY distributor, Alvah L. Reynolds, who sold Lawrence’s product under the brand name: Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It was not C.D. Reynolds (another NY dairyman) but Alvah Reynolds who bought the Empire Cheese Factory in 1892 in order to go into production for himself. In 1903, Reynolds sold his Philadelphia brand to the Phenix Cheese Co. (who, later, merged with Kraft).

Jeffrey Marx

Santa Monica, Calif.

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