Trivia Question:  Who Invented Individually Wrapped Cheese Slices?

Answer:  Arnold Nawrocki, Clearfield Cheese Company, Curwensville, PA 1952-56.

In Memoriam: Arnold Nawrocki (February 21, 1925-June 30, 2003)

My father was probably one of the most famous non-famous people during the past half-century as everyone has used separately wrapped cheese slices at one time or another.  You would only know this answer if you grew up in Curwensville, PA, Logan, UT or Clinton, Mo, if you are a member of my family, or you are currently cheating and sneaking a peek at the answer.  OK, since his death in June, this question is not as difficult.  His obituary has been in over 100 newspapers in 6 countries on 3 continents as well as on CNN.  Do a Google Search on "Arnold Nawrocki" and you will also see the answer to this question. 

Arnold Nawrocki on Television

CNN News with Aaron Brown - July 10, 2003  (Use Internet Explorer to view or right click and save the file.  It is a Winamp Media File.)

Lives They Lived 2003 Documentary - Discovery-NY Times December 28,2003

Patent # 2759308 Apparatus for Producing Individually Wrapped Cheese Slabs - August 1956 - PDF File

(Use Internet Explorer to access these videos.)

Historical Marker in Curwensville, PA - Dedicated July 17, 2007


The reference for this answer is:

Vincent L. Zehren and D.D. (Dave) Nusbaun, Process Cheese, Green Bay, WI: Schreiber Foods, 1992.

If you answered Kraft Foods, Norman Kraft and Kraft Foods invented ribbon slices (which is essentially pre-sliced cheese) in 1940.  Kraft did not market separately wrapped cheese slices until the early 1970s.  By 1970, Clearfield Cheese was the second largest cheese processor in the world (Kraft was the largest.) because of the separately wrapped slices.  You may have seen the Clearfield and Cooper brand names at various times.  Unfortunately, the management that guided Clearfield Cheese through the 1950s and 1960s retired in 1968.  Mismanagement by the new management team brought about a swift decline in the company's fortunes in the 1970s.  The last plant producing Clearfield individually wrapped slices closed in Curwensville in 1988.

My father wrote an article that provides a history of the invention of individually wrapped slices.  It is available for download by clicking the link below:

Download 'History of Individually Wrapped Process Cheese Slices' (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)  

Zehren and Nusbaun had this to say in their book, Process Cheese, about the invention of separately wrapped cheese slices.  This is the quick and dirty support for the answer given above.  There is more detailed information given below so if you have any interest in some of the history of process cheese and why separately wrapped cheese slices were invented, scroll down further and be enlightened.  My kids had a history teacher in high school who opined that separately wrapped cheese slices were one of the most useless products ever invented.  Imagine his surprise when my daughter speaks up, "My grandfather invented separately wrapped cheese slices."


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A more detailed overview of the history of process cheese follows:


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