Bar scheeze

I approached the hors d'oeuvres table at the bar association table with trepidation. What was that large, oval mound of pink, slightly shimmering in the dim banquet room light? I feared it would be some sort of "pate surprise," but after tasting, found to my relief that it was some version of bar scheeze (no pun intended).

That lede tells you one important thing about me, culinarily. It also contains two spelling impossibilities.

I have always been an eat first, ask questions later kind of guy, and I've always preferred that in my guests, as in, "tastes good, what is it?" rather than, "um, what is it?" while eyeing my creation suspiciously.

The other point is that I can never spell hors d'oeuvres correctly. I butcher it so badly that spell check doesn't even know what I'm trying to say, so I have to look it up. As for bar scheeze, that's the correct spelling, but man, that just doesn't look appetizing. Gesundheit!

As far as I can tell, the original bar scheeze recipe was developed by the legendary Schuler's restaurant in Marshall, Michigan. It became so popular it was introduced to the retail market and United Airlines became its biggest customer. Interestingly and here's your legal angle in 1982, bar scheeze was sold lock, stock and barrel to the Campbell Soup Company. That included all rights, the recipe, and even the name bar scheeze. In other words, Schuler's can't even make their original recipe anymore, or call it that unpronounceable name. Today, according to their web site, they instead serve a "Heritage Cheese spread, lower in calories and fat." Yum?

It is debatable whether Schuler's (or Win Schuler's, as it was called then) originated the idea of a pub cheese to serve with crackers, pretzels or bread as a bar munchie. There is an entire historical phenomenon of Kentucky "beer cheese" that appears to include similar ingredients. In any event, while Schuler's (or Campbell Soup's) recipe is proprietary, there are some copycat versions to be found. I am basing this one on one from food.com:

Bar Scheeze

Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) jar Cheese Whiz

(or chunked Velveeta, melted on low heat in the microwave)

1/4 cup fresh prepared horseradish (more or less to taste)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp mustard powder

optional: Tabasco or cayenne for heat, to taste

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl in order listed. Chill for several hours or overnight for best flavor. Serve with crackers or pretzels. Store in the refrigerator.

While this version beats the one I found featuring a full bottle of Catalina salad dressing, you nonetheless may want to keep this ingredient list secret from your guests. That is, unless they're the eat first, ask questions later type.

Or in this case, it may be better if they don't ask any questions at all.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He can be reached at nroumel@yahoo.com. His blog is http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

Published: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

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