Mark Van Winkle has fond memories of one of his favorite comfort foods: the mighty grilled cheese sandwich.
It was a go-to meal when he was a kid and as a college student because it was so easy to make.
"It's the simplicity," said Van Winkle of Sparta, New Jersey. "You can't go wrong with a grilled cheese."
Wednesday marks National Grilled Cheese Day. Each year on April 12, the sandwich gets a nod. Is there anything better than gooey, melted cheese on freshly grilled bread?
"It's the ultimate comfort food," said Dave Chiarolanzio, owner of Grilled Cheese Melt Factory in Morristown, New Jersey. The restaurant is dedicated to the art of the grilled cheese sandwich with 17 different varieties, plus create-your-own.
Let's not forget the tomato soup to go along with the sandwiches, also a customer favorite. The most popular sandwich is the Buffalo chicken, with chicken, cheddar and Buffalo sauce, Chiarolanzio said. Customers can select from a variety of bread such as multi-grain, rye or white. The bread are fresh from a local bakery.
According to food historians, many cultures have enjoyed cheese sandwiches, but the grilled cheese sandwich came on the scene in America in the 1920s.
Other grilled cheese sandwiches at the New Jersey grilled cheese emporium include the Jersey special with Taylor Ham and a choice of cheese including fontina, mozzarella, Swiss, provolone and good old American.
That's precisely what Van Winkle likes: the basic American Cheese on white bread grilled to perfection.
"Every time I come, I look at the menu and think I'll order something else, but this is my favorite," he said.
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