Cheesy Rhetoric by Taylor Walter

However cheesy the concept may seem, the media that fills today’s society can leave room for an in depth analysis. In fact, something as simple as a cheese commercial can hide both deeper and powerful ideals. One in particular, Kraft, has a special talent for doing just that. In less than twenty seconds, Kraft’s American cheese singles “Hero” commercial creates a production with certainly more than one singular idea. This cheesy commercial packs American patriotism with calcium, to combine past emotions and modern logic, into a single successfully persuasive statement.

Before 1914, “American” cheese didn’t exist. While the idea may seem absurd, the truth behind it really isn’t at all. Just because Americans call those yellow-orange cheese squares American, doesn’t mean that’s their proper name in all places of the world. In truth, while the concept of “American” cheese is itself American, the product is simply called by another name in other countries. But, the important questions are: what is this concept, and where did it come from? James L. Kraft came to Chicago in the summer of 1903 with the plan to sell cheese. However, he first needed to find a way so as to keep the cheese from spoiling so quickly. So in short, he canned it, and coined the product American cheese. In other words, America’s beloved cheese is processed cheese, or sterilized and emulsified ingredients. Funny enough, at the time of its creation, the cheese was highly rejected by Americans. Only in thanks to the world war’s that followed Kraft’s creation, did the processed cheese grow in popularity to become those favorite cheese single slices and turn the Kraft business into a successful company.

The Kraft Company owes a large part of its success to their provocative take on commercial advertising. While the company itself is comprised of a number of labels, which owe their origins or still originate from countries outside America, they are still able to recognize the importance of roots. In their more recent, “Hero” commercial for cheese singles, Kraft has crafted the perfect mix of the cheese’s patriotic background, while pulling forward today’s take on patriotism.

Setting aside the red, white, and blue, Kraft created the “Hero” commercial by first making plans to nail the number one priority of any product commercial—the audience. Ask any teenager or young adult about cheese slices, and their comment is likely to be in the form of a memory. Cheese slices are a thing of childhood. But though the cheese if for the children, they aren’t the ones buying it. So, the trick is to appeal to the parents of younger children, while still incorporating the patriotic idea corporate came up with. This is where the real challenge and magic begins.

The parental persuasion is most obviously presented through the sensible statement about how Kraft singles are filled with lots of calcium to help kids group up strong. Logical, considering most parents are deeply concerned with the well being of their children. But can’t any cheese company boast of calcium? Suddenly a competitor’s commercial flashes through the mind, superiorly boasting about their all-natural cheese against those processed slices. Kraft knows their cheese is processed and would never want to specifically say statement with such negative connotation. The competitor’s commercial does enough harm in the minds of parents seeking healthy foods for their children. However, Kraft can’t just turn their back on their roots and true identity. The logical appeal to calcium works, but is no longer enough in society’s ever growing concern with health.

Operation America is now ready to take effect and lay out the ethos. Kraft American cheese is suddenly not just American cheese, but The (emphasis on the) American cheese. The cheese that originated in America, proved useful in the wars, is classically used to top a good ole American hamburger, and perhaps even filled the grilled cheese of the prospective audience as children. Suddenly, Kraft seems to be that wonderfully reliable company, worthy of everyone’s trust and financial support. Top the emphasis with an American cheese slice flag, and parents are hooked on this patriotic brand. A sense of loyalty, one that likely started long ago has now been made or renewed for the most important audience, the parents of America.

In addition, this particular cheese singles commercial has taken the patriotic emotion several steps further by touching deeper on past and present American ideals. The opening to the commercial shows viewers a small boy pretending to be a super hero and the big hitter statement, “ In America, we believe anybody can be a hero,” being narrated by a friendly and causal voice. As the idea first rattles around in the mind, a general sense of accord is in place. But then you start to picture those everyday heroes: the next door neighbor that rescued a little girl’s cat stuck in a tree, or the passengers aboard flight 93, that stopped terrorists from crashing into the White House on September 11th. All at once pride and gratitude leak from the stores of emotion. Before long its war heroes and famous revolutionary heroes and the realization of how much America values the heroes who serve their fellow countrymen. A sense of nobility and bravery sweeps the nerves. Viewers can’t help feelings of connection and support for other Americans. Suddenly, pathos has saturated any kind of thinking and a connection has been made. America’s treasured ideals have been taken on in these small cheese slices, and viewers want a part in those ideals and in turn the cheese.

The pathos extravaganza continues as you watch the small boy running around in nothing but jeans and a cape. While viewing parents may still believe their children to be the cutest, the boy’s playful mood and unique style warm the heart, and help to branch into the idea of yet another hero. The flying cape is classic for the all American superheroes, including Batman, Spiderman, Captain American, and beyond, which children have come to know and love. Believing in the impossible superhero like feats is soon a shared idea between the little boy in the commercial and viewers. To finish the image, in place of “superhero” tights the commercial kid is sporting some faded blue jeans; jeans, a staple of American lifestyle and living. How much more American can this little boy get?

Look closely. As the small boy comes to a standstill and comically proceeds to flex his arms and make a tough face for the “bad guys,” any viewer’s eye would tell you he’s not white. Perhaps he’s just very tan, or perhaps Kraft cleverly bridged American pastimes and age-old morals with a sense of today’s society. Today, more that ever before, America has embraced all races of people in matters of patriotism. For the first time in history, an African American is serving as our president. A countless number of public places and signs accompany details in English, with Spanish. Even college campuses find themselves growing in diversity. The idea that anyone can be a hero is truer than ever before, as America broadens its view of anyone. Kraft, a longtime worldwide company, now gladly encourages the changed country America is becoming.

Kraft certainly pulled out all the stops in creating this one thought provoking and gut wrenching cheese singles commercial. Though Kraft’s true identity, as discovered over a hundred years ago, may not appeal to parents on the “natural” level, their calcium comment packed with patriotism does. Kraft portrays their cheese as The American Cheese and then ensues with emotion filled, superhero strength persuasion. They allow the cheese to take on America’s values of a hero and take viewers back to the realm of childhood comic superheroes. And at the end of the day, this global company urges parents of all races to purchase the cheese that understands the importance of younger generations through providing them with the calcium to grow up strong and be the future of America.

Works Cited

Clarkson, Janet. “The Invention of ‘American Cheese’”. The Old Foodie. The Old Foodie, 11 Dec. 2007. Web. 20 Sept. 2011.  <>.

“Heritage.” Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods Company, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2011. <>.

“Kraft American Cheese Slices “Hero” 2011 Commercial.” You Tube. You Tube, 5 June 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2011. <>.