You’ve probably heard that processed cheeses like Kraft Singles, Velveeta and Cheese Whiz are made of unappetizing things. But what exactly is this scary stuff that goes these molten, melty cheeses of the glowing orange variety?

USDA research chemist Michael Tunick was tapped by Tech Insider to sit down and discuss exactly what’s inside those oh-so-unnatural cheeses.

He explains, since before WWI, companies have been stretching their cheese supply by grinding up older cheeses and adding them to newer cheeses. The two mix together with an emulsifier to help hold it all together, while also helping it melt really well for the consumer.

It’s perfectly legal, as long as their description bears the label  “pasteurized processed cheese spread” or “pasteurized processed cheese product.” So be wary of these terms because they are essentially code for “not actually real cheese.”

For some fun history mixed with scary facts, be sure to watch.


Also see, Here’s how your favorite chefs make grilled cheese.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.