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The History of Cheesecake and Cream Cheese

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White chocolate cheesecake on plate, close-up
StockFood - Peter Cassidy/ Riser/ Getty Images
Cheesecake is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. Historians believe that cheesecake was served to the athletes during the first Olympic Games held in 776 B.C. However, cheese making can be traced back as far as 2,000 B.C., anthropologists have found cheese molds dating back to that period. Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food, wrote that, "cheesecake was mentioned in Marcus Porcius Cato's De re Rustica around 200 BCE and that Cato described making his cheese libum (cake) with results very similar to modern cheesecake."

The Romans spread cheesecake from Greece to across Europe. Centuries later cheesecake appeared in America, the recipes brought over by immigrants.

Cream Cheese

In 1872, cream cheese was invented by American dairymen, William Lawrence of Chester, N.Y., who accidentally developed a method of producing cream cheese while trying to reproduce a French cheese called Neufchatel. William Lawrence distributed his brand in foil wrappers from 1880 under the name of the Empire Company.

PHILADELPHIA Brand Cream Cheese

William Lawrence started distributing his cream cheese in foil wrappers from 1880 onwards. He called his cheese PHILADELPHIA Brand Cream Cheese, now a famous trademark. His company the Empire Cheese Company of South Edmeston, New York, manufactured the crean cheese.

In 1903, the Phoenix Cheese Company of New York bought the business and with it the Philadelphia trademark. PHILADELPHIA Brand Cream Cheese was bought by the Kraft Cheese Company in 1928. Kraft Foods still owns and produces PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese today.

James L. Kraft invented pasteurized cheese in 1912, and that lead to the development of pasteurized Philadelphia Brand cream cheese, it is now the most popular cheese used for making cheesecake today.

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