Friday, May 4, 2012

Pabst-ett Cheese

Now here's a cheese with an interesting history.  With a name like Pabst-ett it obviously had ties to the Pabst brewing company.  With the advent of Prohibition in 1920, the Pabst Brewing Company decided to get into the cheese business.  The dairy itself was located west of Milwaukee and Pabst used the former ice cellars of the brewery to age the cheese.  One of the products they made was Pabst-ett, a processed whey cheese similar to Velveeta but more spreadable.  I think the product was more akin the cheddar cheese spread that comes in the little crocks nowadays than to actual Velveeta.  The cheese business was wildly successful and ultimately brought Pabst and Kraft into confrontation with one another over copyright infringement.  Kraft won the case and gave Pabst a royalty free license to continue making Pabst-ett.  After Prohibition ended in 1933, Pabst sold the cheese business off to Kraft who continued to produce Pabst-ett cheese until at least the late 1940's. 

This ad was from the time when Pabst and Kraft we locking horns over copyrights.  It's so typical of ads in the late 20's, especially borrowing from the ad campaigns of shortening in that's it's main selling point it that it's "Digestible".  For some weird reason this was a major talking point for food products in that time period, like everything else is in-digestible?  In researching about the vintage diet, it seems people suffered from "Stomach Ailments" on a more or less regular basis and blamed it on indigestible foods.  Really the problem was an utter lack of fiber in the diet resulting in constant constipation.  There was an ad campaign aimed at that as well and we'll study that in our next article.


  1. I was at an estate auction recently and along with a box of old bottles, there were yellow round cardboard circles with Pabst-ett on them. At first I thought they were coasters until I found this article. Thank you for this information.

    1. Turning them into coasters isn't a bad idea though... You'd have to coat them in something waterproof.

    2. I just spotted a vintage cookbook at a local antique store, "Breakfast to Midnight Recipes with Pabst-Ett" be Alice Brady

  2. Interesting article. I came here (via Google) after hearing ads for Pabst-Ett in some 1942 episodes of The Great Gildersleeve radio show, which was sponsored by Kraft at that time.Oddly, Kraft is never mentioned in the Pabst-Ett ads, even though Kraft was the sole corporate sponsor. Thanks for posting!

  3. Kraft was a sponsor of radio shows during the 1940s, including "The Great Gildersleeve," and you often hear advertisements for this product on surving recordings of that program. I was curious about what Pabst-ett was and your article was helpfully informative.

  4. I remember my grandfather had Pabst-ett when I was a child. I never have seen it since moving to west coast. What is similar to this cheese spread?

  5. I do a podcast where I play old time radio programs. In playing an episode of "The Great Gildersleeve" this week, the show ran an ad for Pabst-ett cheese. Since I do not remember Pabst-ett, I Googled it and voila! I found your very interesting blog. I hope you don't mind that I read from this blog post on my Podcast - and gave you credit.

    Thanks for the really interesting blog. My wife and I are both fascinated and will spend some time rummaging around!

    If you would like to hear the podcast, it will be become available on Monday, August 27. You can hear it on any of the major podcast services, but here is a link to the exact show on my website:

    Thanks again for the really interesting information.

    Bob Bro

  6. I discovered a reference to this cheese while transcribing my grandmother's recipes. I'm glad to know what is it.

  7. Fabulous bit of history! Thank you for the post.


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