Did you know there is only one natural color of cheddar cheese? The idea that cheddar comes in two forms, white or yellow, is a common misconception. All cheddar cheese is a deep to pale yellow (off-white) color when originally produced; adding various food colorings during industrial manufacturing is what gives cheddar its familiar yellow-orange hue. Cheese without artificial coloring is often referred to as "white cheddar."
So why take this extra step? Artificially colored cheddar cheese has been around since the early 1860s, but no one really knows why. Trivia book author David Feldman offers, "the only reason why cheese makers color their product is because consumers seem to prefer it." Apparently, the visual appeal of a yellow-orange hue is more attractive to consumers than the natural off-white-- making the extra step of food coloring worthwhile.
So which do you prefer, natural white or artificially colored yellow-orange cheddar? Kraft, the United States’ biggest producer of industrial-style cheddar cheese, uses a combination of annatto and oleoresin paprika to color their cheddar products. Alternatively, at POP! Gourmet we use ZERO additional materials to color our cheddar popcorn—all ingredients are of the highest quality, natural, gluten-free, and GMO-free. Next time you’re picking between white and yellow cheddar products, remember which one is artificially colored and which one is all-natural!