Cheese is one of the most popular and commonly consumed dairy products across the world. From grilled cheese sandwiches to cheeseburgers, pizza to pasta, cheese adds flavor, texture, and richness to many dishes.
With hundreds of cheese varieties available, choosing the right cheese for cooking and eating can be an overwhelming task. Two of the most well-known and widely used cheese brands in the United States are Bongards and Velveeta. But what exactly sets these two cheese brands apart?
Overview of Bongards Cheese
Bongards is a family-owned cheese company based in Minnesota that has been producing cheese since 1908. They offer a wide variety of natural and processed cheeses, including cheddar, Colby, brick, muenster, havarti, gouda, and of course - American cheese.
Bongards makes traditional processed American cheese loaves that are sold pre-sliced or in bulk blocks. Their American cheese contains a blend of milk, whey, milkfat, enzymes, and annatto as a coloring agent. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a mild tangy flavor.
Some key attributes of Bongards American cheese:
- Made from a blend of real cheeses like cheddar and Colby
- Contains no artificial preservatives
- Creamy, smooth consistency when melted
- Sold in regular and lower-sodium varieties
- Pre-sliced loaves for convenience
Bongards also produces cheese sauces, spreads, slices, shreds and snacks. Their products are USDA certified and made from rBST-free milk. They market their cheese as being wholesome, natural and made with the highest quality ingredients.
Overview of Velveeta Cheese
Velveeta is one of the most recognized processed cheese brands in the United States. First invented in 1918 by Swiss immigrant Emil Frey, Velveeta was intended to be a new type of American cheese that could melt smoothly without separating.
Velveeta hit the commercial market in the 1920s and grew in popularity over the next few decades as an affordable, shelf-stable cheese product. Today, it's sold in a few main formats:
- Cheese blocks - the original Velveeta format, sold in rectangular bricks in mild and other flavors
- Cheese slices - thinner, individually-wrapped slices
- Shredded cheese - a shredded cheese blend, often used for tacos or topping baked dishes
- Cheese sauces - Velveeta cheese sauce packets for making dips, mac and cheese, etc.
The original Velveeta brick is known for its uniquely smooth, creamy texture that effortlessly melts into sauces or fondues. It's made with milk, whey, milk proteins, and emulsifying salts like sodium phosphate.
Some key attributes of Velveeta cheese:
- Extremely creamy, "liquid gold" meltability
- Mild Cheddar flavor
- Sold in convenient brick format
- Also available in shredded and sliced formats
- Long refrigerator shelf life when unopened
Let's now directly compare Bongards and Velveeta across some key attributes.
One of the biggest differences between Bongards and Velveeta lies in the ingredients list.
Bongards cheese contains:
- Calcium phosphate
- Sodium citrate
- Annatto coloring
Velveeta cheese contains:
- Milk proteins
- Emulsifying salts (e.g. sodium phosphate)
- Calcium phosphate
- Sorbic acid as a preservative
- Lactic acid
- Coloring (annatto and paprika)
While both contain dairy ingredients like milk and whey, Bongards relies on more natural cheese ingredients while Velveeta incorporates more additives and preservatives to achieve its famous smooth, shelf-stable texture.
- Bongards uses real cheese cultures; Velveeta relies more on additives
- Velveeta contains sorbic acid as a preservative; Bongards has no added preservatives
- Velveeta uses milk proteins; Bongards relies on whole milkfat
- Bongards flavors primarily from cheese; Velveeta incorporates some artificial flavors
So while Velveeta isn't entirely made from chemicals, it does contain more additives than the simpler Bongards cheese. However, those ingredients allow it to melt smoothly without breaking.
Given the differences in ingredients, Bongards and Velveeta also differ somewhat in their nutritional profiles:
Bongards (per 1 oz serving)
- Calories: 90
- Fat: 7g
- Carbs: 1g
- Protein: 6g
- Sodium: 180mg
Velveeta Original (per 1 oz serving)
- Calories: 40
- Fat: 3g
- Carbs: 1g
- Protein: 3g
- Sodium: 230mg
- Bongards is higher in calories and fat since it contains more real cheese
- Velveeta is lower in fat and calories due to more additives and milk proteins
- Velveeta has a higher sodium content
- Bongards contains more protein than Velveeta
So in terms of nutritional value, Bongards offers more protein and fat coming from real cheese, while Velveeta's lower fat content appeals to some dieters. However, Velveeta does pack a higher sodium punch.
When it comes to flavor, Bongards and Velveeta American cheese have some noticeable differences.
Bongards tends to have a more pronounced cheese flavor. It tastes closer to real cheddar, with a savory cheese aroma and slight tang. The flavor is bold and robust even when melted.
Velveeta has a much milder flavor profile. It lacks the tang and true cheese bite of Bongards. The flavor is gentler, with a focus more on creaminess. Velveeta tastes primarily salty and buttery when melted, with subtle milky cheese notes.
- Bongards has a stronger, tangier cheese flavor
- Velveeta is extremely mild, sacrificing flavor for texture
- Bongards delivers a more authentic cheese taste
- Velveeta tastes smoother and more subtle
So for those who like a powerful, cheese-forward flavor, Bongards is the winner. But if you prefer a super mild cheese taste that highlights other ingredients, Velveeta may be more appealing.
Here's where Velveeta really shines - it absolutely dominates when it comes to texture.
Bongards has a dense, sliceable texture that melts well into sauces and cheeses. It melts smoothly but retains more structure when melted compared to Velveeta.
Velveeta possesses an incredibly creamy, fluid, smooth texture. It melts into a velvety, drippy sauce that oozes over dishes. The emulsifying salts allow the fat to melt evenly for a seamless liquid texture.
- Velveeta melts into a flawlessly smooth, runny sauce
- Bongards melts well but not quite as seamlessly as Velveeta
- Velveeta becomes extremely fluid when melted; Bongards retains more shape
- Velveeta has a thicker texture pre-melt; Bongards slices neatly
That proprietary creamy melt of Velveeta can't be matched by any other cheese. Its liquid gold texture makes it perfect for dips, sauces and fondue.
Given the differences in flavor and texture, Bongards and Velveeta naturally lend themselves to different uses.
Bongards cheese works well:
- On sandwiches since it slices cleanly
- For grilled cheese with its nice cheese flavor
- In cooked dishes where cheese flavor is important
- As a snack cheese given its hearty flavor
- On burgers, paninis, flatbreads, etc.
Velveeta cheese excels when used for:
- Cheese dips and fondues - makes the creamiest sauces
- Dishes requiring a smooth, creamy melt like mac and cheese
- Queso, cheese spreads
- Nacho cheese sauce
- Casseroles calling for super melty cheese
- Bongards for dishes where real cheese flavor is needed
- Velveeta when ultimate creaminess and melt are required
So in summary, opt for Bongards on sandwiches and charcuterie plates, Velveeta for velvety sauces and dips.
Key Takeaway: Bongards works best on dishes highlighting cheese flavor; Velveeta shines when an ultra-smooth, creamy melting texture is desired. Their different properties make them suited to different cooking applications.
Price and Availability
Both Bongards and Velveeta cheeses are widely available at most major grocery chains across the United States.
Bongards cheese is often found:
- In the deli section or cheese aisle
- Near other natural cheese slices and blocks
- Near the specialty cheeses like gouda, havarti, etc.
- Pre-packaged or at the service deli counter
Velveeta is found:
- In the refrigerated aisle with other processed cheeses
- Near brands like Kraft and store brand cheese slices
- With boxed mac and cheese and cheese sauce packets
- Sometimes in the natural cheese section too
Pricing for 8 oz packages:
- Bongards: $3.99 to $4.99
- Velveeta: $2.99 to $3.99
Velveeta tends to be a little more affordable than Bongards in most stores. But both offer good value given their convenience,shelf life, and melting abilities. Consider getting Bongards when you need more authentic cheese flavor, Velveeta when cost and ultimate creaminess are priorities.
Is Velveeta real cheese?
While Velveeta isn't 100% real cheese, it does contain some actual cheese ingredients like milk, milkfat and whey. However, additional milk proteins, emulsifying salts, and stabilizers give it a smoother, more shelf-stable texture than natural cheese.
Is Bongards real cheese?
Yes, Bongards American cheese contains real natural cheeses like cheddar, Colby, and cheese cultures. It has fewer artificial stabilizers than Velveeta, making it closer to real cheese in terms of both taste and ingredients.
What's better on a burger - Bongards or Velveeta?
For cheeseburger purists, Bongards has the more authentic cheese flavor to complement the meat. But Velveeta will deliver that dreamy, creamy melting texture as it oozes over the patty. It comes down to personal preference!
Can you substitute Bongards for Velveeta?
Bongards makes an acceptable substitute for Velveeta in terms of flavor. However, it may not melt down into as smooth and creamy of a texture. For best results, add a pinch of sodium citrate when substituting to improve melting.
What's healthier - Bongards or Velveeta?
Bongards is lower in sodium and additives and contains more real cheese. However, Velveeta is lower in calories and fat. For the most wholesome nutrient profile, Bongards has an edge over the more heavily processed Velveeta.
Bongards and Velveeta have some clear differences that make them suited for different uses in the kitchen. Bongards delivers more true cheese flavor and has a smooth but not perfectly velvety melt.
Velveeta sacrifices some cheese taste for its famously creamy, liquidy melted texture. Bongards stacks up better nutritionally with less processing and additives. But both offer unique benefits at an affordable price point.