What is Cheese Pull?

Cheese pull refers to the stretchy, gooey strands of melted cheese that form when you pull apart a cheese-filled food like pizza, grilled cheese, or mozzarella sticks.

What is Cheese Pull

It's that delicious cheesy goodness that connects two pieces of food as you pull them apart.

Cheese pull is a desirable quality in melted cheeses that gives foods like pizza their signature look.

What Makes a Good Cheese Pull?

For a cheese to pull well, it must meet two key criteria:

  • Meltability - The cheese must fully liquefy when heated, so that it forms a smooth, liquid consistency rather than remaining solid or clumpy. Hard, aged cheeses generally do not melt well. Soft, moist cheeses like mozzarella melt beautifully.
  • Stringiness/Elasticity - The melted cheese must have physical properties that allow it to form long thin strands without immediately breaking. When you pull apart a cheese pull food, the molten cheese lengthens into bridges, strings, or webs between the separating pieces. High moisture content gives cheese greater elasticity when melted.

Mozzarella excels at both meltability and stringiness, making it the gold standard cheese for excellent pulls. Its high moisture content and loose curd gives it a stretchy, malleable texture when melted. Pizza makers prefer fresh mozzarella for its superior melting properties. Other cheeses known for good melt and pull include young cheddar, Monterey Jack, fontina, and provolone.

Processed cheeses like American cheese also melt well and can achieve good cheese pulls when at the right temperature. But they may lack the flavor dimension of a true cheese like mozzarella. On the other hand, runny cheeses like brie and ricotta melt beautifully for richness but do not have the protein structure to form strings and pulls.

How Cheese Pull Became an Internet Sensation

Cheese pulls gained initial popularity as an effective marketing device for major food brands like Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Kraft. By showcasing the mouthwatering stretchiness of melted cheese on their pizza and cheese products, ads tantalized viewers and became etched into the public consciousness.

But in the early 2010s, interest in cheese pulls exploded online and spawned an entire viral niche. Food bloggers and influencers began seeking out and promoting recipes that achieved ever-more-dramatic cheese pulls. The internet's obsession with visually striking "food porn" dovetailed perfectly with the cheesy stretches.

Viewers delighted in watching the cheese lengthen into improbable strings. Sites like BuzzFeed's Tasty capitalized on the content craze with click-friendly cheese pull videos that spread through Facebook and YouTube. #cheesepull has over 1.5 billion views on TikTok, where users post their own melty cheese snippets.

Brands have also seized on the trend and engineered menu items specifically to produce photogenic cheese pull shots for social media. Starbucks UK even released a limited edition Cheddar Cheese Latte in 2018, which baristas stretched to create Instagrammable cheese pull photos.

Key Takeaway: Cheese pulls gained massive online popularity in the early 2010s as a clickbait-friendly food trend and desirable visual for food porn and social media engagement.

Why Do Cheese Pulls Work So Well for Marketing?

Research suggests cheese pulls effectively stimulate the appetite by providing a visual shortcut that signals delicious cheesy taste. According to marketing firm DMI's senior vice president of global marketing, cheese pulls immediately register in viewers' brains as gooey, savory satisfaction:

“There is a science to food appeal...Seeing the cheese pull activates the appetite by triggering memories and emotions connected with cheese consumption"

Viewing cheese pulls also appears to ignite cravings and make people more likely to indulge in cheesy foods:

"It makes people literally drool...They just without thinking go out and eat a lot of the product."

The appeal goes beyond cheese alone. Humans have an evolutionary predilection for molten, stringy foods like melted cheese. Our brains associate those visual properties with nourishment and satisfaction.

Cheese pulls also exemplify food styling tricks known to make dishes look as appetizing as possible. Strategic lighting, steam, color saturation, and glistening highlights are applied to optimize the look.

Brands leverage our instinctive attraction to these qualities through close-up cheese pull images and slow-motion video. The striking visualseffortlessly capture attention on busy social media feeds.

Key Takeaway: Viral cheese pull marketing taps into both our ancestral cravings for melted, gooey foods and modern digital habits centered around eye-catching imagery and video.

Controversy Around Exaggerated Cheese Pulls

While cheese pulls originated as a documentation of cheese's natural melted properties, some argue that the trend has morphed into food constructions where taste becomes secondary:

"Big Cheese Pull...takes a normal, even appealing aspect of eating something gooey and exaggerates it until it’s a grotesque funhouse version of the original food."

Critics claim "Big Cheese Pulls" are exaggerated to lengths not meant to be eaten, but only to be seen:

"cheese that pulls the best doesn't necessarily taste the best...enjoyment comes from the richness or creaminess as opposed to actual flavor."

The amount and placement of cheese seek to maximize visual impact rather than complement other ingredients.

Items like burgers or garlic knots overflow with dangling strands in a way that does not make for pleasant, balanced eating. Excess cheese also quickly congeals into unappetizing pools.

There are concerns these engineered food items ultimately enable wasteful social media stunts focused on chasing "likes" rather than culinary enjoyment.

However, defenders argue cheese pulls simply represent creativity in showcasing foods' mouthwatering properties. When kept to appropriate proportions, cheeses' natural tendency to stretch and pull can elevate a dish's visual appeal without detracting from the experience of eating it.

Key Takeaway: Critics believe some exaggerated viral cheese pulls prioritize appearance over taste and substance, while defenders see it as harmless food artistry.

How to Take the Perfect Cheese Pull Photo

Looking to up your food photo game with artsy cheese pull pics? Here are some tips for capturing Instagrammable melty cheese art at home:

  • Use the right cheese - Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and young cheddars yield the most photogenic pulls. Soften string cheese by microwaving 10-20 seconds.
  • Heat thoroughly - Cheese needs to be fully melted, not just warm. Heat sandwiches/pizza at least 5 minutes longer to liquefy the center.
  • Pull slowly - Gently separate in one continuous motion to form long lasting strings before the break.
  • Use props - Place plates or utensils underneath to catch downward drips for dramatic effect.
  • Enhance color - Position cheese in natural light. Add color saturation and brightness using editing apps.
  • Get creative - Pull cheese through fork tines or other objects. Shape or loop strings around ingredients for fun presentation.
  • Video pulls - Film in HD slow motion to maximize the mesmerizing effect.
  • Tell a story - Context and text enhance photos' appeal. Describe the ooey-gooey deliciousness that your followers are missing out on!

Key Takeaway: Perfect cheese pull pics take the right equipment, optimal melting temps, gentle pulling motions, colorful lighting/editing, and tantalizing captions.

Is Cheese Pull a Passing Fad or Here to Stay?

Cheese pull's hold on viral food culture shows no signs of abating yet. The simplicity of its tantalizing premise gives it an easily renewable appeal across demographics and platforms.

New innovations in packaging and emulsification also allow brands to take cheese pulls to unprecedented extremes through liquids and spreads with nearly indestructible stringiness.

As technology makes ever-more-dramatic cheese pulls possible and camera tech improves slow motion video abilities, cheese pull content will likely continue circulating food social media feeds.

However, some speculate that if overall aesthetic-focused "food porn" declines from peak trend status, cheese pulls may lessen in popularity as well. Much of its viral success has relied on packaging pulls as hyper-visual snackable content.

If online audiences eventually tire of prioritizing a food's appearance over its flavor, culinary substance could regain prominence over stylistic spectacle. More muted, natural documentation of recipes might displace the demand for camera-ready cheese pulls.

But for the foreseeable future, cheese pull's hold on the internet appears secure. Our human craving for oozing melted dairy and eye-catching visuals shows no signs of abating. For brands, restaurants, and everyday food photographers alike, cheese pull remains a reliable route to social media engagement and viral success.


Why do some cheeses pull better than others?

The main factors that allow a cheese to pull well are its meltability and elasticity when liquefied. Mozzarella excels due to its high moisture content and loose curd structure, which deliver smooth melting and stringy stretching ability. In contrast, hard, dry cheeses like parmesan do not melt or extend properly at normal cooking temperatures.

Does a good cheese pull mean the food tastes better?

Not necessarily. While enticing pulls enhance visual appeal, some claim the cheeses that pull best like mozzarella lack complex flavor. Excessive cheese may also overpower other ingredients. But in moderation, pulls can signal gooey deliciousness and indicate the cheese will offer a satisfying mouthfeel when eaten.

Can you create a cheese pull from any food?

Pizza, grilled cheese, and mozzarella sticks lend themselves best to stretching melted cheese between parts. Trying to pull cheese from foods where it is a minor ingredient or enclosed inside will likely not work. The key is having cheese be a main component binding separate pieces, so it can bridge the gap when pulled slowly apart.

What makes pizza cheese pull so well in ads vs real life?

Brands use tricks like strategic heating, younger cheeses, glue sticks, and emulsifiers to guarantee smooth, elastic cheese pulls for advertisements and promotional photos. They may also exaggerate pulls beyond proportions that give the best taste. At home, achieving photogenic pulls takes experimentation with cheese types, cooking times, temperatures, and pulling techniques.

Can you pull melted cheese without breaking it?

It takes precision, but yes - with practice, you can sometimes slowly stretch melted mozzarella a foot or more continuously without it snapping if the cheese is hot and elastic enough. The key is to distribute the tension evenly along the lengthening strands and pull in a straight line to avoid extra slack that encourages breaks. But minor breaks will still frequently occur.


Cheese pull refers to the signature stretching effect that occurs when cheese-centric foods like pizza and mozzarella sticks are pulled apart, forming mouthwatering strings and bridges of melted dairy between them.

Originally a documentation of how melted cheese behaves, cheese pull has exploded online as brands and influencers exploit its visual appeal as an internet food trend.

When optimized as clickbait content, some cheese pulls exaggerate gooey appearance at the expense of edible taste and proportion. But cheese pulls can also represent playful culinary artistry.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions