Jamaican Cheese A Lie?? Say It Ain't So!!

bun-and-cheeseHey y’all! Sorry for the long hiatus, but with Good Friday, Easter, and a bunch of birthday parties I haven’t had much time to do anything other than run around like a chicken with my head cut off and then recover. But, my little blogging vacation has come to an end, and I promise never to take such an extended one without a little warning first! Now that we’ve gotten that all out of the way, we can get right into my little Easter special. Ok, I get it. Easter is long over, and the last thing you want to do is hear about my cutesy little Easter holiday stories, or about what Jesus means to me. And don’t worry – I have no intention whatsoever of even remotely mentioning any of the above. Actually, what I wanna talk about is Jamaican cheese.

Trust me, I can totally imagine the puzzled expressions worn on most of your faces as you try and figure out why I said this was going to be my Easter special and then all I want to do is talk about cheese. But, and I there are some Jamaicans out there who are feeling me on this one, when I think about Easter I think about Good Friday. And when I think of Good Friday the first thing I think about (other than Jesus dying on the cross for my sins – I’m a religious heathen, you see :-p) is a day filled with fish, and bun and cheese. And seriously, if I didn’t get my Escovitch fish (read: Jamaican fried fish) isn’t on my plate by end of day on Good Friday, I would be one extremely unhappy gemstone. But, what I truly crave is bun and cheese. And on no day does it taste as sweet.

But I’m not talking about just any bun and any cheese. I’m talking about Jamaican spice bun and Jamaican cheese. To be clear, when most people eat bun they normally just slap some of our good ol’ north american cheddar cheese on it and call it a day. I mean, the flavor is close enough, the texture isn’t that far off, and it does the trick. But have you ever had bun and cheese in its true form? Probably the most ghetto, lazy snack I have ever had in my life, and yet for some reason I take it to be a delicacy. Just something about it. Probably has more to do with early childhood memories and acquired tastes. Either way, I enjoy it more than I could ever describe to you (although I’m doing a good job ranting on and on about it, aren’t I? :-p). And like most things that we love to death for absolutely no reason other than we’ve ALWAYS loved it to death, I found out this past Good Friday that I don’t know a damn thing about it. I mean, it’s not all that abnormal to know nothing about a baked good when you don’t bake. But I seriously took for granted the fact that I knew nothing about Jamaican cheese.

As you all roll your eyes, putting on your little “how is it that Ruby is so ignorant of the world? Even I could guess all that there is to know about Jamaican cheese” let me tell you a little bit about it. Ok, so first off, Jamaican cheese comes in a can. Sounds ghetto already, right? lol But it does. The brand name is Tastee (pictured below). While I’m sure you can all read, I’ll still spell it out for you: Tastee Cheese is a pasteurized processed cheese spread made with cheddar cheese… hmmmm… sounds a wee bit more interesting now, doesn’t it? Now, in case you’re wondering, a familiar North American comparison would be Cheez Whiz. If Cheez Whiz came in a can instead of in a neat little resealable jar, that is. Now, in case you’re wondering what exactly this “pasturized processed cheese” is, I decided to investigate and can provide you with an actual definition:

Pasteurized process cheese, which is made from one or more cheeses (excluding certain cheeses such as cream cheese and cottage cheese but including American cheese), and which may contain one or more specified “optional ingredients” (includes both dairy and nondairy items). Moisture and fat content percentage requirements vary according to standards for constituent cheeses, but fat content must in most cases be >47%. Processed cheese, process cheese, cheese slice (UK), prepared cheese, or cheese food is a food product made from normal cheese and sometimes other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt, food colorings, or whey.

tastee-cheeseSounds yummy, doesn’t it? So now we can understand why it sort of tastes like cheddar cheese, but is softer and has a more mellowed out kind of flavor…because they only use cheese as an ingredient. Which makes me feel vaguely nauseous. And also makes me laugh my ass off. I mean, seriously? For generations Jamaicans have been taking a form of Cheez Whiz, cutting it into slices, and putting it on bread and telling their kids that this is some classy, highly desired form of food. Wow. It amazes me the crap parents pawn off on their children as fact. It flabbergasts me that these children grow up into adults and never once check on these “facts” and instead blindly pass them on to their kids. Even once we know that shits not adding up. For example, not one person living in North America could possibly believe that honest to goodness cheese is sold in a can. Not one. I don’t care how ghetto, how dumb. Doesn’t matter. Period.

So in and of itself, that should have been enough of a discovery about my beloved Jamaican cheese. Oh, but it continues. Because Jamaican cheese ain’t from Jamaica. No foolin’! My mother said this, which I promptly rolled my eyes at (much as I assumed you did earlier at the beginning of my little rant), all while pulling out my phone to do a quick google fact search. Don’t worry, this isn’t some rare behaviour because I want to prove my Mother wrong at all costs: I check every damn thing anyone ever says to me via Google search pretty much immediately after they say it. You may call it obsessive. I call it a healthy quest for complete and accurate information. Tomayto, Tomahto. Now, after hitting the first few sites (which were Jamaican grocery stores featuring ads for Tastee cheese) which all adamantly proclaimed Tastee cheese to be a “fine cheese from Jamaica”, I decided to change up the search terms slightly….

And this is what I found…and before I continue, I just want to let you know I did an in depth search and checked my facts several times before deciding to accept this as the truth. And the truth it is, my friend:

“Dairy Industries Jamaica Limited…are producers and contract-packagers of a range of milk-based products. The company, [is] located in Kingston, Jamaica [and it’s] flagship product is Tastee Cheese which commands the largest share of the cheese market in Jamaica… The company was formed on April 23, 1964, the result of a partnership between GraceKennedy Ltd. and the New Zealand Dairy Board, now known as Fonterra Co-operative Group of New Zealand, one of the world’s leading exporters of dairy products”

Did you catch the point? While DIJL is providing Jamaican food stores in Jamaica and else where with Tastee Cheese, they aren’t making it. Nope, we can thank our New Zealand friends at Fonterra for our Jamaican cheese. That’ll teach me to ever learn about something I’m madly in love with ever again. Jamaican cheese my ass! A)It qualifies as cheese flavoured, at best and B)It most certainly ain’t Jamaican. Hopefully by next year I’ll be able to erase these awful details from my mind, develop some type of complete amnesia for this traumatic event, so that way I can blissfully chow down on my beloved bun and cheese with nary a misgiving. I guess that’s what I get for writing my rant on my hate of ignorance and those who prefer to live encased in it.


Hopefully I didn’t ruin anybody’s afternoon snack! lol

Happy Wednesday y’all!




  1. Considering I’m a past worker from DIJL, yes the raw material (cheese) is not from Jamaica, but nobody caan mek our canned Tastee cheese no where in the world.

    The process of converting that raw cheese to Tastee in the can is fully Jamaican! 🙂


    1. look mam i dont care what u think it taste great thats all matters nothing we eat today is healthy so stop hating and get a life.


      1. Wow. Did you actually READ the post? Or did you just skim a few lines in the middle and combined with the title assume what it says? Since the first several paragraphs are about how I take it to be a delicacy and how my Good Friday wouldn’t be complete without it, it’s pretty clear I’m not hating on anything. Lol. I’m sorry you’re one of those people who really doesn’t care what’s in your food or where it comes from. I’m not like that. But I guess we can’t all be mindless sheep, now can we? Next time, actually read a post in its entirety before you comment on it: at least then your commentary wouldn’t be taken as mindless ranting from a mindless person. And on that note: enjoy your day!


  2. Mr. Lee mention that “Nobody caan mek our canned Tastee cheese no where in the world”

    If Tastee Cheese is not Jamaican What is it then?

    Tastee Cheese is produced in Jamaica by Jamaicans for everyone to enjoy. The raw material is imported and so does most manufactured products.


  3. Thank you Lee and Coolie High for that. I felt so much better about Easter and my Jamaican Bun and Not-So-Cheese when a couple more things occured to me..

    Such as…as far as what I saw, the canned cheese thing is made up from this New Zealand company, as was the recipe and the original product…so even though it is now made in Jamaica, doesn’t that make it a New Zealand product?? *shrugs* just wondering…


  4. I really like your writing style, its not generic and extremly long and tedious like a lot of blog posts I read, you get to the point and I really enjoy reading your articles! Oh, and merry Christmas!


      1. Well I never knew that. But then this sort of thing happens accross the world e.g. if a garment is assembled in the UK although the parts are made elsewhere, ‘Made in UK’ is stamped on the tag.


        1. Actually, that is very true, and actually I was having a conversation about makeup just the other day, where companies that are tired of getting a bad rap with the whole child labour thing havent stopped using child labour and haven’t moved their factories…no no, they’ve just opened up like ONE factory in America, which is the last stop for their product to be fully assembled, or their brand can be painted on, and then they slap the “made in the US” label on it, and everyone suddenly believes they are this socially conscious, upstanding company…ok a little off topic, I know, but maybe I’ll make a full on post about this whole general idea…thanks for replying!


    1. Well, except for New Zealand. Which is actually where it is technically manufactured…wait a minute…you didn’t actually READ the article did you? Ohhhh…you’re one of those skim reader people, right?? KK, got ya…then again, wish I could forget all that I learned about this cheese…not that it has ever stopped me from eating it lol


      1. Not true. Dairy Industries manufactures Tastee Cheese in Jamaica, the entire can is not shipped from New Zealand, which is what it sounds like you’re saying. Raw materials in almost anything you eat (whether the product is Jamaican or not) come from all over the world but the country in which it is manufactured is what allows it to be called a Jamaican or say, American, product. Ever wondered where the cocoa used to make Snickers comes from? It’s not the US.


  5. Tastee cheese is not cheese and I proved it. It cannot melt like other cheese therefore in macaroni and cheese it will not melt and blend with the macaroni (it spoiled my Christmas macaroni and cheese) and when you make a grill cheese sandwich it will not melt either. Furthermore it will not melt in the microwave either, it turns rubbery. Taste good but it is not cheese!


    1. LOL awwww that is too bad, although I’m not sure who encouraged you to use it on anything other than bread…its not that kinda cheese…its not that versatile cheese that you do anything and everything with, from make sauces and meals, to sandwiches and soups…no. No no. It’s sole purpose in life is to be cut into slices and served with bun and harddo bread. And that’s it. Anything else, and you’re taking a MAJOR risk, at your own personal discretion 😉


      1. I thought I found the answer to the canned cheese I used in Trinidad to make macaroni pie back in the 80s. I guess this is not the stuff. So what was that stuff? It melted. It tasted good.


    2. I don’t know which Tastee Cheese you used, but I use it to make Macaroni and Cheese all the time, and it melts…it’s not runny like an Edam or Emmentaler when it melts. I make a seasoned bechamel, and layer the macaroni with the cheese and bechamel and its delish!


    3. There are natural cheese that will not melt. Go to Germany or Europr for that matter, and you’ll see they have hundreds of cheese


  6. Thank you for that ive been wondering. Anything else u think is interesting to know send a message at. dontfagot@aol.com P.S. DID U KNOW THAT SOME FOOD INGREDIENTS HAVE GROUND UP INSECTS AND MOSTLY DRINK ON THE
    SHELVES HAVE IT OR SOME KIND OF ANIMAL FAT TO PRESERVE IT. GOOGLE FOOD EITH HIDDEN MEAT INGREDIENTS. (95% of our food from off the shelf have animal fats and not just from our regular farm animals. Check it out yourself


  7. I wouldn’t really compare it to Cheese Whiz, as it is too hard to spread. I would compare it to cheese slices. (Singles.) It seems to be identical in flavor and texture to those, except it’s canned in a big round block of it, instead of sliced and wrapped.


  8. To the author, yes Tastee cheese contains Cheddar and is thus a combination cheese to bring us what we know and love. However that photo is a misrepresentation as Tastee also offers a cheese spread product which is soft and spreadable(your photo)…the actual cheese that we use for bun etc does not say spread on the label.


    1. I thought that was the case, that she had the incorrect can in the pic. And she describes at length that Jamaican cheese is a spread, if you’ve ever eaten bun and cheese, you’d known it’s solid. Am sure she’s eaten it, but turns out she has no idea what she’s talking about. And is insecure about her origins to boot. If not, then why import an American concept to describe a staple of our cuisine. Bun and cheese (yes in the can) is part of our cultural , celebrating Easter, it is not ‘ghetto’
      Learn some pride and stop spreading madness. Our cheese is our cheese, regardless of whether it contains foreign ingredients or not.


  9. This is an american who wants to be Jamaican but knows nothing about the country, culture, or people. The ignorance of people who look something up on the internet and take it as fact. Jamaican cheese taste nothing to cheeze wiz or any type of american cheese. And the recipe dosnt come from new Zealand foolish gal. The New Zealand company merged with the original company and now owns the company that doesn’t mean the cheese is made in New Zealand or that doesn’t make them the original makers of the cheese. Since you like googling so much Google what happens when a company merges or purchases another company. Also your definition of “pasteurized chesse” does not really apply to Jamaican cheese. Every country has there own laws and percentage of what can and can not be on food that is the reason why the most products that are sold elsewhere over seas are not in american super markets and voce versa. You should Google that too.


  10. We buy the ‘raw material’ and then make our cheese. Would Swiss chocolate be a product of Ghana who supplies Switzerland with the cacao? Nope. Only thing not Jamaican on the product is the name which begs the question why didn’t we come up a name of our own? I’m sure we’re paying New Zealand for usage of that name.


  11. Reading your comments are so good. I just want to know, are the cows grass fed; yes or no and if not what are they being fed. of course I will still google search. I’m not getting up-dated info. like 2016! Help me out someone, my son went to New York and I said bring me some Bun & Cheese back, it’s been twenty years since I have had it; now in Richmond, VA. I had it, but all I can think about was the health factors, I eat only vegetables, fruits, grains, wheat pasta’s and organic if possible. So instead of enjoying, I’m worrying about what’s in it and should I really eat it. How fating is it! Loved the article also; great conversation and funny, thank you. LR!


  12. Cadbury, in England, made chocolate and don’t produce cocoa, all kind of candy in Europe but they don’t grow sugar cane, tastee cheese in Jamaica use cheddar cheese from commonwealth Australia as part of the ingredients,don’t make it an Austrailian product, as much as “curry” don’t make everything “curried” from India. And stop saying canned cheese is ghetto, it only shows ignorance. Goose liver pate is sold in can in France and very expensive. Canned meat fish poultry is not ghetto so why single out Jamaican canned cheese. Your trying to sound bourgeois by saying you like it but the origin is classless.


  13. I can’t believe that nobody notices that the cheese we grew on with doesn’t taste the same.
    Thanks for the info on New Zealand, because I was in fact researching New Zealand Cheddar…the cheese I actually grew up on.
    Some where along the way, tastee also made the canned cheddar but it’s distinctly different from the new Zealand cheese I was used to.
    The NZ cheddar is definitely sharper, than this muddy flavored mild cheese that tastee put out decades ago.
    For years I have tried to figure out,what happened to that original cheese to no avail.
    They used to sell them both then the NZ brand slowly disappeared from the shelves, and while no one seems to notice, I certainly did.
    Perhaps Grace bought the formula and changed it, but it definitely doesn’t taste the same…just not enough contrast to the bun.
    I haven’t bought nor eaten Jamaican cheddar in about 2 decades because I actually think it tastes awful.
    I just Cabot cheese and it is the perfect substitute to the NZ cheddar and I haven’t and won’t look back.
    Cabot is real cheese.
    When I was growing up I never thought to check ingredients and now that I know it’s just crap, I will stay away from it even more because I don’t like the tastee taste. Btw, I would never eat Velveeta nor cheese whiz, so now I’ll also never eat processed Jamaican cheddar nor NZ for that matter
    Still curious about what happened to NZ cheddar anyway.


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