The Great Grilled Cheese Experiment of 2012

A few weeks ago, I wrote about grilled cheese sandwiches. The feedback was impressive; I received more comments on that post than any other. Go figure! And I have to say, you guys inspired me. There were so many creative suggestions for different types of grilled cheese I decided I’d have to give some of them a try. Thus, the Great Grilled Cheese Experiment of 2012 was born.

The truth is, I was itching for an excuse to do something fun like this. Over the years, I’ve taken a scientific approach to figuring out some of the mysteries of daily life. In fact, I sometimes think of myself as the unofficial third MythBuster. Adam, Jamie and Mark. Has a nice ring to it, no? (And yes, I get that there are other people on the show who could already lay claim to that title. Humor me here, okay?). In the past, I have tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk; held a blind ketchup taste test; and grown mold in the back of the refrigerator. That last one was unintentional, but whatever. With such a storied pedigree in my blood, the idea of whipping up a bunch of these sandwiches and seeing which one was best appealed to me. Once I mentioned it to Tara, she was on board, too. So I went to the store to stock up on a variety of different cheeses and breads, and on Monday the two of us prepared four different sandwiches, all taken from comments left on my blog post. The contenders were:

  • Pear and brie on rye, as mentioned by The Edmonton Tourist.
  • Havarti, swiss and brown mustard on wheat, as mentioned by my friend Jonna at Read Between The Whines.
  • Mild cheddar and colby on white bread and dipped in salsa, suggested by Tara’s mom, Tracy.
  • Mozzarella and sharp cheddar on rye, courtesy of a woman who goes by the moniker SoCalGal.

The sandwiches were all quite different from my go-to sharp cheddar on white, and Tara and I were eager to try them all. So, come lunch time, we fired up the Foreman Grill (a wonderful device for preparing grilled cheese – actually, that’s the only thing I ever use it for), and commenced to sampling the four varieties. Surprisingly (or maybe not, since we are so in tune with each other already and are quite the perfect match), she and I not only agreed on the winner, but also the exact order of the four sandwiches sampled.

Clockwise from top left: Jonna's sandwich, The Edmonton Tourist's, Tracy's, and SoCalGal's.

First up was the pear and brie on rye. The cheese was creamy and the sweetness of the pear perfectly contrasted it, as well as provided a nice crunch, giving it some much-needed textural variety. We found the rye to be a bit overpowering, however. Perhaps a different bread would work better?

Next up was the havarti, swiss and brown mustard on wheat. We were both somewhat leery of the mustard, not being fans of anything with the word “poupon” in it, but actually this condiment provided a nice tang, and the dual cheeses melted together perfectly. The sandwich was tasty, though the mustard did, indeed, claim dominance.

Our third sandwich was the mozzarella and sharp cheddar on rye. Again, the cheeses melted together beautifully and I’m already a sucker for sharp cheddar. And again, the rye bread was a little overwhelming.

Last up was Tracy’s mild cheddar and colby on white. A classic combination, made unique with the addition of a side of salsa. We did half cheddar, half colby jack, in order to try both. What can I say? Every bite was delicious.

So, who was the big winner? The plates speak for themselves…

The amount of sandwich left on each plate directly correlates with our enjoyment of each grilled cheese concoction.

Congratulations to Tracy for the winning sandwich! I was somewhat surprised with the result, figuring one of the more exotic combinations would take the prize (really, there is no prize other than bragging rights, to be technical), but wouldn’t you know it, the simple sandwich on white bread appealed to our taste buds the most. I especially enjoyed dipping it in the salsa; this gave it a nice, tangy kick that elevated the sandwich above the others.

Gooey, cheesy goodness!

Tara and I enjoyed the challenge so much, we’re thinking there may be another round in the future. We’ve already received suggestions for other grilled cheese sandwiches that sound good and worthy of sampling. Maybe we can turn this into a Sweet 16-style elimination tournament with one eventual grand prize winner. The things we do in the name of science, kids!

Have you ever had a similar food challenge? What tempts your palate and teases your taste buds most? And, for crying out loud, have you ever tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk and had success?? I’m 0 for 2 there.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

32 thoughts on “The Great Grilled Cheese Experiment of 2012

  1. I’m betting you used too much mustard, Mark. Only a teeny bit, or it does overwhelm.
    But still, I’m honored just to be chosen. For the next round, I nominate pepper jack, bacon, tomato & swiss (or provolove) on sourdough.


  2. OMGoodness and utter cheesy delight!! I WON!!

    Thank you so much for even including my plain ol’ sandwich among some pretty worthy, gourmet sandwiches. It’s truly an honor!!

    FYI…I have never tried the egg on the sidewalk thing. Not since I saw a report from a news station in Phoenix where the temperature was a measly 112 and they failed to cook an egg on the pavement. Just one big mess. Kinda like yours when you did it…;-)


    1. I swear, if 104 didn’t do it for me, I’m not surprised that 112 was a bust, as well. A few people told me the trick is to either place a frying pan on the sidewalk and cook the egg in there, or fry it on the blacktop, but both methods seem like cheating since the phrase is “hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.” Although, I’d be interested in revisiting the experiment a third time and trying all three methods. Hmm…


  3. These all sound interesting but I’m still a big fan of the Kraft-singles-on-white variety. Occasionally with a few slices of crisp bacon in the mix. (Everything is better with bacon, you know!)

    The pictures made me laugh though, because in our house, a grilled cheese is not “correct’ unless it’s cut, corner to corner twice, to make 4 little triangles. My mom made them that way when we were little, and even as a (age withheld)-year-old, I still make them that way. My sister does too, so her kids think that’s the only correct “shape” for grilled cheese too. πŸ˜‰


    1. Bacon does, indeed, make everything better. Even other pieces of bacon. And I agree, I prefer my sandwiches cut into triangles, but it was easier just to slice these bad boys in half and get down to the business of eating.


    2. For dinner/lunch I like to have chesee, ham, tomato capsicum with pesto on the bread.You can pretty much cook anything on a sandwich maker cook some bread, cook some bacon and then make a BLT. My mum also cooks eggs on ours and we have BELTs Also you could cook some bread, put the chesee on the bread on the sandwich maker and let it melt, then add some tuna and either have a tuna toasted sandwich or top that with lettuce and tomato for a tuna melt. Yum.


  4. For the record, I can TOTALLY see you on Mythbusters. Here’s another one for your Grilled Cheeseathon:

    Sprinkle a little garlic powder on the butter before you toast the bread for some extra goodness. And I use Wisconsin sharp cheddar, but I’m sure you could play around even more. Then maybe dip it in marinara sauce…mmmmm.


  5. This sounds like the makings of a new food network show! That email you sent me was so kind! I completely understand why you needed to declare Tracy as the winner when you would have loved to say it was me…first place in your heart is enough πŸ˜‰


    1. I used to buy breakfast at school occasionally back in the sixth grade. They served a wonderful concoction called cheese toast, which was really just have a grilled cheese sandwich. Loved it! Talk about the breakfast of champions.


  6. I can highly recommend Natural Bakery Old Fashioned Rye Bread for your rye bread requirments. It’s soft like white bread, but has the necessary “brown bits” to make it feel healthy.
    My recommendation for your next grilled cheese challenge: Swiss & marble cheese with crumbled crisp bacon on Natural Bakery rye bread cooked on a sandwich maker (which seals all the edges so none of the ooey gooey goodness can escape). By crumbling the bacon you get a small taste in each & every bite.


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