On January 20, get ready to ‘havarti’ a ‘gouda’ time, because it’s National Cheese Lover’s Day! Have you ever wondered how the first human discovered cheese? We’ve wondered that too, and we’ll probably never find out. All we know is that it was love at first bite; when the first human tasted the salty, tangy, delicious goodness of cheese, they were hooked. And we can definitively say that human history was forever changed. Cheese might have had mysterious beginnings over 7,000 years ago, but it’s insanely popular today. In the U.S, one-third of all milk produced in this country goes into cheese production. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry! We’re ready to celebrate it.
When is National Cheese Lover's Day 2024?
We celebrate and explore the wonderful flavors of cheese on National Cheese Lovers Day on January 20.
History of National Cheese Lover's Day
It seems like cheese has been around forever. There aren’t any records pinpointing the exact event when cheese was created, but the earliest record of pasteurizing cheese dates back to 5500 B.C. in the geographical region that’s now Poland. The earliest cheeses were mostly cottage cheese churned at home, and this is likely how cheesemaking started.
Thousands of years ago, milk was transported by people by storing it in the stomachs of sheep. When left for a few days, the milk would separate into whey and curd. Retaining this residue and preserving it with salt led to the formation of cheese. Today, there are more than 1,800 types of cheese in the world.
The rest of the history of cheese is as extravagant and full of flavor as cheese itself. Enjoyed by royalty, the poor, and modern-day consumers, there is something for everyone. Some parts of the world are very secretive about their cheese heritage, keeping the ingredients and techniques private.
Cheesemaking itself is a very sensitive process. Everything from the environment, to the temperature of the milk will impact the taste and aroma of the cheese.
National Cheese Lover's Day timeline
During the Roman Empire, cheesemaking had widely become a valued practice in the Middle East and Europe.
Cheese production started in America after English dairy farmers brought their farming and cheesemaking knowledge with them to New English colonies.
The first farmstead cheese factory was opened in Koshkonong, Wisconsin.
With the invention of the refrigerator, cheese preservation became better and more utilized for homes.
Traditions for National Cheese Lovers Day
National Cheese Lovers Day is all about discovering cheese and experimenting with it. Make things exciting by incorporating different cheeses in different recipes, and savoring the end result. You can try to use artisanal cheese to prepare mac and cheese instead of using the boxed variety, or you can even try to ferment your own cheese at home.
Cheese tasting events are quite popular today as well, giving newbies and connoisseurs the opportunity to learn about some of the finest cheese in the world. Some restaurants also offer special deals on their cheese menu or have special dishes added to the menu for the day.
Cheese By The Numbers
1,800 — the number of varieties of cheese around the world.
5 — the number of years it would take to try one cheese per day.
57,518 pounds — the weight of the heaviest cheese prepared in the world by a Canadian cheesemaker.
$600-$1000 — the price range that a pound of cheese can sell for.
300 million pounds — the amount of cheese used annually by Pizza Hut.
70% — the percentage of Americans who prefer American cheese on their burgers.
1/10 — the volume of milk that evaporates when the cheese is made.
33 pounds — the amount of cheese eaten by an American adult every year.
National Cheese Lover's Day FAQs
Why is cheese called cheese?
Cheese is derived from the Latin word ‘caseus.’
Who invented cheese?
No one is certain when the first cheese was made. Most historians believe that it was created by Arabs, who used to store milk in the stomachs of sheep.
Is there urine in cheese?
An odor found in tomcat urine is considered desirable in some types of cheddar cheese.
National Cheese Lover's Day Activities
Dare to go beyond cheddar
Get to know the cheese-monger at your grocery story, and get the slice on something new. Will today be the day you try that mysterious ‘cave-aged gruyere’ or give yourself over to the wonders of a Danish Blue? Whatever you buy, it’s sure to be delicious. It is cheese, after all. You can’t go wrong!
Be a Fondue!
A big vat of bubbly delicious-ness, that’s been mixed up with wine or beer? Yes please! This National Cheese Lover’s Day, try making your own fondue! It’s basically a giant vat of melted cheese—we think you can handle that. What are you going to dip in it, you ask? Buy an assortment of meats, bread, and fresh veggies. The meat will cook when you dip it in the hot fondue, and the bread and veggies will warm to the perfect temperature. Our mouths are watering.
Make your own
Ricotta (and the Indian cheese called ‘paneer’) are easy to make at home—and need little more than whole milk, lemon or vinegar, a big pot and cheesecloth for straining. Check your local stores for fancier kits that can help you try making your own feta or camembert. Now that really is baller! Heads up: we expect you to share it with us when you’re done.
5 Cheesy Facts About Cheese
A cheese expert
An expert on cheese is called a cheesemonger.
Blue cheese is made in a cave
Blue cheeses are usually aged in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cave or a cellar.
Cheese for everyone
Lactose intolerant people can consume cheese due to the bacteria breaking down the lactose.
The most popular cheese
Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese
The most popular cheese dish
The most popular cheese recipe in the United States is macaroni and cheese.
Why We Love National Cheese Lover's Day
It's in the science
Did you know that some of the components of milk help calves stay both calm and healthy? Follow-up fact: Did you know that these components get super-concentrated in cheese? (We know you didn’t. You can thank us later.) That means that, when humans eat cheese, these same feel-good chemicals are let loose. They can create an almost euphoric feeling! That must explain why we feel so fantastic when we eat cheese. It’s not because we’re stuffing our face … not at all.
Everything tastes better with cheese
It’s not just hard, melty cheeses that do all the work. A fluffy ricotta can make broccoli brilliant and a crumbly-fresh feta can make almost any salad sing. There is a huge variety to cheese, across cultures—making it a perfect accompaniment to any dish! So, the next time you go to the store, make sure to expand beyond the simple mozzarellas and cheddars. If you like strong tastes, pick up a blue cheese or a brie. And if you like to stay mild, branch out with a fontina or a ricotta
Even dairy-avoiders can find something to love
As much as Americans love dairy-based cheese, more and more of us are avoiding dairy. Thanks to growing amounts of lactose intolerance, our brains might say yes, but our stomachs are are saying, “heck, no.” Thankfully, a growing industry in non-dairy, nut-based cheeses is helping to fill the gaps. You can even make your own, and all you need are cashews soaked in water, a blender, and nutritional yeast. When you puree them and combine them, you’ll get a gooey cheese that you won’t be able to distinguish from the real thing. We promise.
National Cheese Lover's Day dates