It might be surprising to learn that Philadelphia Cream Cheese, despite having its name for nearly 135 years, is not actually from Philadelphia.
It was, in fact, originally developed and produced in upstate New York, writes Danya Henninger for Billy Penn.
Many people have theorized about the name’s origin. But Jeffrey Marx – a rabbi in Santa Monica, Calif., and the world’s premier authority on history of cream cheese – has uncovered the origin of the name while researching his own family history.
According to Marx, by the mid-1800s, Philadelphia was known for its cheese. But it was dairyman William Lawrence from Chester, N.Y., who boosted the cream content and created something new.
Lawrence first referred to his product as cream cheese, but it soon caught the attention of cheese distributor Alvah Reynolds, who repackaged it as “Philadelphia Cream Cheese.”
“Alvah Reynolds was a marketing genius,” said Marx. “He was one of the earliest individuals to brand a food of any kind.”
This rebranding put the cheese at the top of sales charts, where it still outsells its closest competitor by more than 10 to 1.
Read more about the origins of Philadelphia Cream Cheese at Billy Penn here.