Scroll TikTok for even just a few minutes, and you’re likely to encounter a video of gooey cheese being pulled into shiny, stretchy strands. It’s a mesmerizing moment — scientifically proven to release brain chemicals similar to the ones involved in addiction.
The mozzarella stick is one of the most recognizable formats for this so-called cheese pull. Soft and springy in the middle, crispy and golden on the outside, it calls to mind bowling alleys and school cafeterias of yore.
Recently, the dish has had a cultural resurgence. It makes appearances on high-end restaurant menus and viral cooking videos — driven, perhaps, by Americans’ desire for nostalgic comfort food during a pandemic, or simply the pleasant aesthetics.
Last year, Tim Szuta introduced a baton-size mozzarella stick to increase sales at his pizzeria, Alphonso’s the Original, in West Allis, Wis. In November 2020, a Facebook video of the mozzarella sticks