Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Meet Provel in St. Louis ; Cheese of the Week

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Meet Provel in St. Louis ; Cheese of the Week

Article excerpt


Aroma *

Taste **

Price *

If you've eaten a pizza, sandwich, salad or any food containing cheese while in St. Louis, you've probably enjoyed the local favorite Provel.

Haven't heard of Provel? That's not surprising, if you don't spend much time in St. Louis. It's a very local product that, when manufactured for sale by purveyors outside the St. Louis area, can't even be labeled "Provel." It carries instead the moniker "St. Louis-Style Cheese."

The history of this beloved food is convoluted and much debated, even in St. Louis.

According to an article titled "Provelology," in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the cheese was patented by a collaboration of one or more St. Louis businessmen and the Hoffman Dairy in Wisconsin in the late 1940s. Hoffman (now owned by the Churny Company, a subsidy of Kraft) is still the only maker of trademarked Provel cheese.

Although the name may suggest Provel is an American imitation of provolone cheese or a blend of provolone and mozzarella, it is not at all.

The recipe has changed over the years, but Provel has never contained mozzarella and today is a processed blend of Swiss, white cheddar and provolone cheeses, with a big tang and a bit of smoke flavor. It has a high moisture content for smooth and easy melting.

And melt it does. Provel melts with the slightest application of heat to a smooth, sauce-like consistency. It doesn't clump, doesn't string, isn't chewy, doesn't separate or get greasy. Imagine a bowl of smooth Mexican white cheese dip with a bit of smoked Gouda grated in.

This, and the low price, makes it a perfect cooking cheese. Melt it on any sandwich (try it with sauteed peppers and onions), in quesadillas, use it for casseroles and macaroni and cheese. It has all the cooking convenience of Velveeta with the benefit of being real cheese and tasting quite good.

I couldn't do an article on Provel without visiting an Imo's Pizza, a business practically built on Provel cheese.

According to the Imo's website, the first restaurant was opened in 1964 by Ed Imo and his wife Margie. The chain has now grown to more than 90 restaurants in St. …

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