White cheddar is a construct. It is a fake thing designed to appeal to elitist food snobs that think they are too good for regular cheese. White cheddar is a tool of diet culture used to make people buy more expensive new “healthier” (but not really healthier) products. White cheddar is unimportant, uninteresting, and completely unnecessary. When it comes down to it, white cheddar is a marketing ploy, and that’s that.
Starting in the late 80s, white cheddar emerged on the market as a new, exciting cheese that was allegedly way better for you and more natural than the classic yellow or orange cheddar you have always known and loved. Annie’s White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (released in 1989) was in and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was out. And with white cheddar suddenly becoming a bizarre beacon of health, regular cheddar cheese was deemed undesirable. I can already hear the commenters shouting, “But there is a difference!” and to that, I say, “No.”
Wisconsincheese.com (my main source for cheese history and news) states that the “only difference between white cheddar vs. orange cheddar is the natural vegetable coloring that is used to make orange cheddar.” Listen to Wisconsin, the cheese capital of the world: There is basically no difference. Your diehard allegiance to the paler cheddar cheese is based on lies.
And yes, you read that correctly: natural vegetable coloring. “Most orange cheddar cheese today is made with annatto, the seed from the achiote tree…” Annatto is used in all types of food to add color and/or flavor and is completely safe. That means that the orange color that has been demonized is actually plant-based and there is nothing wrong with it whatsoever.
The health food industry, however, does not want you to know that. They want to be able to sell you the same product for more money. They want to be able to suggest a consumer is making a smarter choice without having to go into the details. White cheddar has become a health-related food buzzword on par with non-GMO, organic, and vegan.
So if the only difference is a very small amount of natural food coloring, I refuse to believe that white cheddar has a unique taste. My girlfriend always pays for the fancier white cheddar version of whatever cheese-based thing she’s buying, and I never notice a difference in flavor or my general quality of life for that matter.
If you like white cheddar, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not bad. It’s cheese! It’s delicious. But just be aware: White cheddar and yellow cheddar have equal moral, ethical, and ecological values. White cheddar is a state of mind. A state similar to delusion. Sometimes, delusion is nice. It makes us feel better. That being said, delusion is not reality. Cheese is cheese. White cheddar is fake.