Cottage cheese was once touted as a diet food, but over time its popularity waned. Consumption peaked in the early 1970s, when per capita consumption in the United States was 5.2 pounds per person. Since then, intake has fallen, down to 2.1 pounds per person in 2015.
Still, people have a favorable opinion about cottage cheese. In a recent national survey completed by Real California Milk, a majority of Americans (71 percent) had a highly positive opinion about cottage cheese, and 19 percent considered it to be healthy. And those people are correct. A one-half cup serving of cottage cheese contains nearly 14 grams of protein with less than 100 calories.
What a lot of the survey respondents didn’t get right was the origin of cottage cheese. Participants were given six options to choose from. The most popular guess, selected by 37 percent of respondents, is that cottage was a French word for “curds and whey.”
Another 19 percent guessed that cottage was another word for cheese curd. There were 14 percent who speculated that cottage cheese originated in Cottage, England, and 7 percent guessed that cottage cheese was named after its originator, Harold Cottage. Five percent even responded that cottage cheese was produced by cows housed indoors.
The correct answer, selected by 17 percent of respondents, is that cottage cheese was originally produced in small cottages. The dairy product came from simple beginnings, as it was first made in small batches in rural homes with milk left over from making butter.
Over time, cottage cheese production grew and moved to processing plants. According to USDA data, national cottage cheese production stood at 399 million pounds in 2015.