Colby is one of the first truly American cheeses. It was first made in the late 1800's by a man named Joseph Steinwand. Steinwand named his cheese after the town of Colby, Wisconsin, where his family had built their first dairy. Colby is one of the first cheeses developed in America by an American, not trying to imitate a European cheese. Like most cheeses manufactured in America it is made from pasteurized milk.
Many people compare Colby to Cheddar. They are similar in color, since both are colored with anatto, but the cheeses are different. Colby is softer and milder than cheddar. Colby doesn't age well, and should be eaten while it is young. It is less acidic and moister. Colby also does not go through the cheddaring process while it is produced.
Adding to the confusion, one popular variety of Colby, Longhorn, is often marketed as "Longhorn Cheddar" when it is in fact, Colby.
Colby is very similar to another American cheese, Monterey Jack, though Monterey Jack is not colored. They are sometimes mixed together to create Colby Jack.
Colby melts easily and is often used for grilling. It is also used as a table cheese and for snacks.
Where to buy
Colby is quite easy to find in North America in most grocery stores. Outside of North America it can sometimes be found in large grocery stores and import stores.
Too lazy to go to the grocery store? You can buy colby cheese at amazon.com online.