The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Who doesn’t love the humble but oh-so-yummy grilled cheese sandwich.  Its ooey-gooey goodness not only warms our insides but (at least for me) brings back warm memories of childhood around the dinner table. And, according to my National Day Calendar, April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, so today I thought I’d offer up some history and fun facts related to this well-loved comfort food.

  • It turns out, the idea of taking bread and cheese and heating them together into a quick and tasty meal goes at least as far back as the ancient Romans. However, the grilled cheese sandwich as we know it today is credited to James L. Craft, who created a method to keep cheese from spoiling quickly. With the advent of commercially available sliced bread in the 1920s he decided it was a match made in culinary heaven!
  • Early versions of the grilled cheese sandwich were made open-faced with only one slice of bread and the cheese was usually grated.
  • Schools eagerly adopted the grilled cheese sandwich, more often than not pairing it with tomato soup. It was a cheap and tasty meal option to fulfill dietary requirements for both protein and vitamin C.
  • Prior to the 1960s the grilled cheese sandwich was often referred to as a “cheese dream”.
  • In 1994 Diana Duyser, a work from home jewelry designer, took a bite from her grilled cheese sandwich then stopped when she saw an image of the Virgin Mary on the toasted portion of her sandwich. She kept the rest of thee sandwich for ten years then listed it on eBay. The winning bid was $2800, placed by Golden Palace, an online casino.
  • The New York restaurant Serendipity 3 holds the record for producing the most expensive edible grilled cheese sandwich. The bread contains champagne and gold flakes and the sandwich includes truffle butter and a rare Caciocavallo Podolico cheese. The cost of this sandwich in 2017 was $214.
  • In 2006 competitive eater Joey Chestnut set a record by eating 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes.

Some fun notes from various surveys:

  • The most popular pairing of the grilled cheese sandwich is with tomato soup.
  • The US cities that rank highest on the “grilled cheese lovers” scale (according to UberEats) are Baltimore, San Diego and Cincinnati.
  • By one estimate, an online search for “how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich” will yield over one million results.
  • According to a 2018 market study, Americans consume over 2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches a year.
  • The most popular cheeses for grilled cheese sandwiches (in the US) are American and cheddar.
  • Another survey reports that grilled cheese lovers are not only more generous than their non-grilled cheese lover counterparts but they are also more adventurous and travel more.
  • Food & Wine ranks the grilled cheese sandwich from San Francisco’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen as the tastiest. The chef is an MIT engineer named Heidi Gibson.


And of course this post wouldn’t be complete without a  recipe so here is a version for my own personal favorite grilled cheese sandwich


  • Pepper jack cheese – a thick slab or a generous heaping of shredded cheese
  • 2 slices of bread – whatever you have on hand will work but I prefer sourdough
  • Butter seasoned with a touch of garlic salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Brown mustard


  • Preheat your skillet on a low heat – I like to use a well-seasoned iron skillet but a regular skillet with a bit of butter will do
  • Spread seasoned butter on one side of each piece of bread (slather it on, don’t skimp!)
  • Add a very thin layer of brown mustard to the unbuttered side of ONE slice of bread (just a enough to flavor but not overpower)
  • Place the cheese on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread
  • Place the bread and cheese, open-faced style, in the skillet with the bread side down and cover for a few minutes, allowing the cheese to melt. Once the cheese starts to melt add the second slice of bread and cook uncovered until both sides are a nice golden brown.
  • Plate and Enjoy!

So let’s discuss. Is there any of the points above that surprised you? Do you like grilled cheese sandwiches? Do you have a favorite recipe?  Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for winners’ choice of any of my backlist books.


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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

34 thoughts on “The Grilled Cheese Sandwich”

  1. Yes, I like grilled cheese sandwiches. I am surprised by the pepper jack cheese and mustard. We always just made it with American cheese. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I LOVE grilled cheese sandwiches and make them often. I created my own recipe and it starts on sourdough bread. I use a combination of American, Swiss and cheddar cheeses. It makes the best sandwich. My husband constantly asks for them, so I make sure to have everything on hand all the time. I usually always like it with soup, but last week, I decided to make homemade potato chips to go with them.

  3. We LOVE grilled cheese, but esp swiss on dark rye – I always grill both sides (only 1 buttered) before adding the cheese – this adds an extra crunch and makes the cheese melt faster!

    • Hi Teresa. I have to confess I’m not a big fan of rye bread, but I am intrigued by the idea of gilling the bread first. I’ll have to experiment with that next time

  4. Winnie, this is great and is making me hungry. It is the perfect comfort food and deserves a day to itself.
    Kathy Bailey

  5. My son and I both love grilled cheese sandwiches but husband want touch them. He is so picky, only wants to eat meat and potatoes. My son loves them made with two slices of mozzarella cheese with pepperoni in between the slices and then dips them in pizza sauce. Kind of like a pizza grilled cheese. We have them both ways.

  6. Welcome. Thank you for bringing this post today. What fun facts. I grew up on grilled cheese and tomato soup. When i was working at Bakers Square, they made their grilled cheese sandwiches different. They used the same cheddar cheese, what ever bread you wanted. When they go to spread the butter on they then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and using the same knife push the cheese into the butter. Oh my goodness. What a wonderfully crispy delight.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  7. I love grilled cheese sandwiches! I have to use sharp cheddar for mine, and it MUST be in a cast iron skillet. Anything else just won’t do!

    • Hi Trudy. And I agree that they taste better when cooked in a cast iron skillet, but I have had one that taste very well cooked on griddles and regular skillets 🙂

  8. Years ago when I was a teenager, I made bologna and grilled cheese sandwiches. Now I use Colby-jack cheese in them with whole wheat bread.

  9. What a great article! I always wondered when why when we were kids my dad made us open faced grilled cheese with grated cheddar cheese! Noticed that was one of the early versions so that makes sense now! Sometimes I still fix mine that way to remind me of him!

    • Hi Teresa, glad you enjoyed the post. And it sounds like your dad was a man of his times. And it’s so true that food can take us back to a particular time and place in or lives.

  10. I love grilled cheese sandwiches, but am not a fan of tomato soup. So I always had Campbell’s chicken noodle soup with my sandwich. I like my grilled cheese plain, just bread, butter, and 2 or 3 slices of American cheese. Occasionally I’ll throw in a slice of fried ham. But my son likes to use mayo instead of butter, and different kinds of cheese, and thick Texas toast.

    • Hi Sherry. Apparently the use of mayo rather than butter on a GC sandwich is somewhat common – supposedly it browns more slowly than butter and so you can get more of a melt on your cheese. I’ve never tried it myself though

  11. Love grilled cheese… sometimes add some ham to it… not a fan of tomato soup, but a yummy homemade chicken noodle goes well with it!

  12. Winnie, I like the sound of your recipe for grilled cheese. I am not a fan of hot cheese, but do like the flavor it adds. I could temper it by doing a slice of some American or cheddar cheese to a thin slice of Pepper jack cheese. I always put mustard on my grilled cheese sandwiches. I like the idea of using a garlic/cracked pepper butter for the sandwich. It would give it a nice pop of flavor. I sometimes add bacon or ham and have added thinly sliced tomatoes a time or two. And yes, tomato soup is the perfect pairing.
    I was in grade school during the 50’s but don’t ever remember hearing the term “cheese dream” for a grilled sandwich.
    I know people have seen “images” on a variety of items, but I just can’t see spending $2800 for a 10 year old sandwich.
    I think I would save the $214 and fix my own version of that deluxe sandwich. I could easily use champagne to make the bread and I know truffle butter is available. I think the money would better be used to buy loaves of bread and American cheese to make dozens of sandwiches for a soup kitchen. I think it would be much more satisfying.

    Thanks for the interesting post. I am going to try your version of the grilled cheese soon. I know my husband would love it.
    Have a great week.

    • Hi Patricia. I think mixing Pepper Jack with another cheese is a great compromise – it’ll definitely add a little kick to your sandwich. And I agree that $2800 is too much, no matter its age!

  13. Thanks for sharing your information on cheese sandwiches.

    I am not a fan of cheese so rarely eat it in a sandwich.

  14. This is so very interesting , I did not know that grilled cheese sandwiches go to way back when! Thank you for sharing about the grilled cheese sandwiches , and thank you for sharing your recipe. I love grilled cheese sandwiches. When my husband and I first got together he would put jam in the middle ,between the cheese and the bread of the grilled cheese sandwich when he was making it, I had never , ever heard of jam in a grilled cheese sandwich, but to my surprise , it was delicious. Have a Great week and stay safe.

    • Oh wow, Alicia, that’s definitely a new one for me. I would hve never thought of putting something sweet like jam with grilled cheese. I may have to try this sometime, but probably with cheddar rather than Pepper Jack.

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