“Cheese ball” is more than just an adjective describing the Santa sweater your Aunt Janice wears every Christmas without irony. Cheese balls are actually in vogue (again) — especially during the holidays and, of course, National Cheese Ball Day on April 17.
Basic ingredients often include cheddar cheese, cream cheese, green onion, and spices — sometimes coated with chopped pecans. You can go vegetarian as well.
Think of them as a kind of freestanding dip, with all of your favorite party flavors rolled into one compact package. Still can’t visualize man’s greatest creation? Read on, and get ready to smile demurely and quip, “Why, I did,” when you overhear fellow revelers asking repeatedly, “Who brought this amazing cheese ball?”
National Cheese Ball Day timeline
The first cheese ball is created by Elisha Brown, Jr. and she presents it to President Thomas Jefferson at the White House.
The recipe for cheese balls is printed for the first time in the cookbook “Food of My Friends” by Virginia Safford.
Cheese ball enthusiast and comedian Amy Sedaris writes a play about cheese balls titled “The Book of Liz.”
Cheese balls get a bad rep, with Amanda Hesser writing in “The New York Times,” "Cheese balls tend to be associated with shag rugs and tinsel, symbols of the middle-class middlebrow."
National Cheese Ball Day Activities
Go cheesy — in a good way
Chances are you already have at least some ingredients on hand, and the rest aren’t hard to find. Or just throw cheese ball caution to the wind and improvise! That chunk of pepper jack that’s too small to cover your plate of nachos? Some leftover pepperoni from pizza night? Half a jar of rainbow sprinkles languishing behind the cream of tartar? Ahem. Cheese ball it! (Not all together, guys. Unless spicy sprinkles are your jam, of course. We won’t judge.)
Throw a cheese ball-making party
Now that you’ve channeled some mad culinary skills, why not share your newfound cheeseball knowledge? After all, everyone loves cheese. Invite the squad and assign everyone an ingredient to contribute: cream cheese, shredded cheese, crackers, or other dippers. Provide a couple of bottles of wine to get the party started.
Watch cheese ball-inspired movies
"Spaceballs"? "Cannonball Run"? "Meatballs"? Or just make it a night of cheesy films. We're pretty sure you can find one or two during the entirety of National Cheese Ball Day.
Why We Love National Cheese Ball Day
Most cheeseballs start with a base of softened cream cheese. Then you add whatever strikes your fancy; more cheese is a surefire crowdpleaser. Next, you form it into a ball — if you ever used Play-Doh as a child, you got this — and roll that ball into another ingredient, like chopped herbs or chopped nuts. No worries, there are plenty of recipes if you’re still feeling jittery.
They’re charmingly retro
Retro dishes and drinks are in. Cheese balls are a tasty throwback to a simpler time, before meat and cheese platters became “charcuterie,” and before artisanal napkins and free-range forks graced the place settings of every locally-sourced restaurant around.
You can put pretty much any of your favorite dip ingredients into a cheese ball, making them infinitely customizable and a great “what-will-I-bring-to-this-potluck-let-me-clean-out-my-fridge” party offering. Wanna get frou-frou? You can make cheese balls into pinecones. Or pineapples. Or snowmen. But really, any cheese ball is, by definition, fancy — largely because it’s not a plastic tray of bland, cubed cheddar and sorry old Swiss.
National Cheese Ball Day dates