Layers of cheese melted between two slices of bread -- a simple idea with a worldwide reputation. The grilled cheese sandwich is beloved by many cultures around the world, made with different types of bread and cheese and some with additional ingredients.
It was first widely eaten in the United States as a cheap meal during the Great Depression, when money was low and cheese and bread were some of the least expensive food items. During World War II, grilled cheese was a common snack served in the military, and U.S. government cookbooks from the time describe grilled cheese as "American cheese filling sandwiches." Now, we eat grilled cheese as a late-night snack, as a gourmet sandwich in restaurants, and really any time we feel like it.
Around the world, the grilled cheese sandwich goes by other names. The French equivalent, a Croque Monsieur, is made by melting Gruyère cheese over a ham sandwich as well as inside of it. A Croque Madame is the same but with a fried egg on top. In South America, the traditional arepa becomes a cheese arepa when cheese is melted in the middle or baked into the dough. For Australians, there's nothing simpler or tastier than a vegemite grilled cheese sandwich with melted cheese on one side and vegemite on the other.
-Haley Willard, The Daily Meal
More Content from The Daily Meal:
Look What These 15 Restaurants Do With Grilled Cheese
12 Jazzed-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipes for Grown-Ups (and Kids, Too)
Alton Brown Makes 'Grilled, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches'
8 Ways to Take Grilled Cheese to the Next Level
9 Superfast Sandwich Recipes for Summer