What comes to mind when you think of ‘Philadelphia’? The zoo? Benjamin Franklin? Philadelphia cheese?
Well, you better delete that last one, because a viral Reddit post has revealed a little-known fact about the origin of the soft cheese.
In a post on the subreddit todayilearned (which can be viewed here), user u/dansux said: “TIL Philadelphia Cream Cheese was invented in New York and was never made in Philadelphia. The name was part of a clever marketing strategy, because in that At the time (1880), Philadelphia was known for its high quality dairy.”
The fact that Philadelphia cheese isn’t actually made in Philly stunned Redditor’s mind, with 42,000 upvotes and more than 1,000 comments.
Ttcmzx said, “All I think I know is a lie.”
Joabyjojo noted, “I always thought it was really weird that a Philly Cheese Steak didn’t contain philly cream cheese while a New York Cheesecake did, but I think it makes sense now.”
Sirfuzzitoes joked: “Get f*****, that’s our cream cheese. With love, Philadelphia.”
It turns out that Philadelphia Cream Cheese was made in New York in 1871 by a man named William Lawrence. According to the Philadelphia website, Lawrence invented cream cheese to “bring a fresher, richer taste experience to the cheese market.”
In 1880, cheese merchant Alvah Reynolds approached Lawrence with a plan to improve the marketing of this new product. He suggested naming the cream cheese after Philadelphia, which at the time was known for its high-quality dairy. Between 2013 and 2020, U.S. sales of Philadelphia Cream Cheese totaled $539 million, according to Dairy Foods Magazine, making it the country’s most popular cream cheese brand.
While Redditors were shocked to discover the true birthplace of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, the brand has been open about it. You can even find references to the historic name change on its website.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese isn’t the only company to experiment with a few white lies in their branding. The comments were quickly inundated with Redditors sharing similar examples of household names changing their location for marketing purposes.
CurlSagan said, “The same way, Arizona tea was invented in Brooklyn, NY. The founder just thought New Yorkers would like the idea of ice-cold tea from a blazing hot distant desert.”
LostSoulsAlliance noted, “As I remember, Texas Roadhouse didn’t start in Texas either. Started in Indiana.”
SkullAngel001 wrote: “Actually, Häagen-Dazs is not even a word or phrase in a European language.
“It’s literally gibberish marketed as a premium ice cream brand (on top of being made in ‘Murica).”
All three stories are true. AriZona Iced Tea started in New York in 1992, but activists “boycotted” the brand in 2010 in response to an immigration law passed in the state. The brand released a statement at the time saying, “Despite the tremendous success AriZona has had in the United States and internationally, we have remained true to our New York-based family business.”
The Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, with its first-ever branch in Clarksville, Indiana, in 1993. Häagen-Dazs was founded in the Bronx in 1960 by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Reuben and Rose Mattus . The couple were Jewish, Reuben Mattus told journalist and cookbook author Joan Nathan that he gave the product a Danish-sounding name for two reasons: to honor Denmark’s kindness to the Jewish people during World War II and because it sounded more exotic.
He said: “The only country that saved the Jews during World War II was Denmark, so I came up with a completely fictitious Danish name and had it registered.
“Häagen-Dazs means nothing. [But] It would draw attention, especially with the umlaut.”
news week has contacted u/dansux for comment.