There's no denying it—people around the world absolutely love cheese. After all, how many times have you heard the refrain from vegetarians that they'd happily become vegan if it weren't for the fact that they just love cheese so much? There are so many amazing dishes that incorporate cheese, from a comforting bowl of mac and cheese to a fresh slice of pizza. And, let's not forget the cheese board, a classic appetizer that's super easy to prepare and always a huge crowd pleaser.
However, while many of us can appreciate an incredible cheese, often, we don't really know much about the ingredient. Sure, we know a few things, such as that there are soft and hard cheeses, and we could name a few of our favorites. There's so much more to the world of cheese than many of us could imagine, though. And while it's certainly possible to make your own, it's not an easy process by any means, which is why even most foodies will opt to buy a well-made artisan cheese rather than attempt to create some science experiment in their kitchens.
It's a huge staple that's beloved by people in countries around the world, and there are many individuals who simply can't get enough of their cheese of choice. So, next time you're looking for a fun fact or two to share around the cheese board, we've got you covered. These wild facts prove that cheese is truly a unique ingredient that deserves a lot of love.
18 Milwaukee Once Used Cheese Brine To Stop The Roads From Freezing
We've heard of a lot of different ways to use cheese in cooking, but we have to admit, we never would've imagined it could be used for road safety. However, as Milwaukee proved, cheese can have more uses than we could've ever imagined. The city recently introduced a program that uses cheese brine, mixed with a bit of rock salt, to coat the roads and help break down the ice and snow. Honestly, it seems like a great solution—it's less expensive than pure rock salt, and it allows for an alternate use to a part of the cheese production process that just gets tossed out.
17 The Smelliest Cheese In The World Is France's "Vieux Boulogne"
As anyone who's ever sniffed a particularly pungent cheese knows, there are many varieties of cheese that pack quite a powerful stench. And if you've ever wondered what the stinkiest cheese of them all is, we've got an answer for you. Back in 2004, researchers at Cranfield University used both a group of human sniffers as well as an electronic nose to judge a wide variety of cheese based on how smelly they were, and the winner was clear. Vieux Boulogne, a soft cheese from northern France, came out on top. It was deemed even smellier than another cheese from France that was considered so pungent it was banned from public transportation throughout the country. Yikes!
16 There's A Bank In Italy That Takes Parmesan As Collateral
Everyone knows that people from Italy take their cheese very, very seriously. It's a huge part of their culture and is in so many of their dishes we can't even count. However, it may surprise you to know that cheese is such a big deal to people from Italy, that there's actually a regional bank that will accept huge wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as collateral for small business loans. Credito Emiliano, the bank, will take cheese as collateral and actually store and age it for the farmers for the duration of the loan. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement, but we have to admit, it's a little crazy to imagine wheels of cheese in some vaults and stacks of cash in others!
15 Certain Cheeses Actually Help Dental Health
Cheese is definitely delicious, but it's not really something that many people consider a health food. However, it turns out, there are certain types of cheese that actually help your dental health. There are a few cheeses out there, like the super common cheddar and mozzarella, that promote the production of saliva. That saliva, in turn, works to eliminate acids and sugars, which are responsible for breaking down your tooth enamel. So, there you have it—some cheese is great for your dental health, so you can totally indulge a little bit more often, right? However, it's still fairly high in fat, so you'll want to be careful and look after your heart health as well!
14 The Holes In Swiss Cheese Are Caused By Carbon Dioxide Bubbles
If you've ever eaten Swiss cheese, chances are you've pondered where on earth the holes come from and what that process is all about. It turns out, the holes are created by the carbon dioxide bubbles that are produced during the fermentation process. And the size of the holes—or "eyes" as cheesemakers refer to them—depends on how long the cheese is in that fermentation process. The longer it ferments, obviously, the bigger the holes get. And cheesemakers have a hand in it as well—they can adjust things like the temperature and the acidity to help control the size of the holes by controlling the environment the bacteria that produce them.
13 The Largest Mac And Cheese In The World Weighed 2,469 Pounds
Many mac and cheese lovers have indulged in a little bit too much of the comfort food staple, but have you ever wondered just how big the world's biggest mac and cheese was? Well, obviously, someone has attempted it and gotten it into the Guinness World Records. Cabot Creamery Cooperative, a spot in New Orleans, created a dish of macaroni and cheese that weighed in at 2,469 pounds. In order to create the gargantuan mac, they used 1,100 pounds of milk, 575 pounds of cooked macaroni, 286 pounds of cheese, 26 pounds of flour, and 61 pounds of dry seasoning. Crazy! We wonder just how many people were fed by that and for how long!
12 There Are Three Professional Cheese Sculptors In The U.S.
Many sculptors prefer to work with a particular type of stone, but have you ever heard of a sculptor whose medium is cheese? Well, according to NPR, there are actually three professional cheese sculptors residing in the United States. These individuals use their artistic skill and creativity to create works of art—and rather than using some type of stone, they use huge hunks of cheese. As one of the pro cheese sculptors, Sara Kaufmann told NPR, "It's much more delightful than working with wood or stone. You can snack while you work." Well, you'd have to do something with all those leftovers!
11 Some Cheeses Are Stored In Caves To Age
Chances are, when thinking of where cheese sits to age, you assumed it just was placed in a shelf somewhere or maybe in a large refrigerated space. Well, while there are likely plenty of cheesemakers who use more modern surroundings to age their cheese, it's been a long-standing process to actually age cheese in caves. Since caves are both humid and cool, they're basically the perfect environment to ensure cheese ages properly. Cheesemakers have been using caves way before refrigeration was even a thing. Nowadays, cheesemakers actually construct cheese caves rather than find natural ones, but the practice still remains. Pretty neat!
10 Mice Don't Actually Like Cheese
Many people consider mice the original cheese aficionados, but it turns out, cheese isn't even something that mice particularly like! While they'll eat it if they can't find any other scraps, they far prefer carbs and sweet things to cheese. So, instead of trying to bait a mouse with a particularly tempting bit of cheese, we'd be far better served using a crisp piece of baguette, apparently! It just goes to show how widespread incorrect information can be. Mice and cheese have become completely linked in many people's minds, and it turns out they really don't go together at all.
9 The Average Adult In The US Consumes 33 Pounds Of Cheese A Year
While a cheese board may not be as widespread in America as it is in some European nations, there's no doubt that people from America consume a lot of cheese. After all, it's a component in countless classic dishes, from mac and cheese to slices atop burgers. And if you've ever wondered just how much cheese the average US citizen consumes, we've got a startling answer for you. It turns out, adults will eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year. That's more than 2 pounds a month! Obviously, people from America love cheese just as much as individuals in France and Italy, for whom cheese is a huge part of food culture.
8 It's A Great Bedtime Snack And Can Help You Fall Asleep Quicker
Many people have heard of the idea of drinking a cup of warm milk before bed in order to help themselves fall asleep faster. Well, it turns out that having a slice or two of cheese might help get you dreaming sweet dreams quickly as well! And no, it's not simply because of the dairy. Since cheese has a relatively high amount of tryptophan, the same amino acid found in turkey, it'll actually help you fall asleep a little bit faster. So, next time you're looking for a bedtime snack, perhaps consider reaching for a few bites of cheese and crackers.
7 The Most Expensive Cheese In The World Is Made From Donkey Milk
When it comes to cheese, there's a huge range of prices. There are the varieties that are mass produced in factories and sold in the chain grocery stores, and then, there are the kinds carefully crafted by cheesemakers and sold in artisanal cheese shops. Well, if you've ever wondered what the most expensive type of cheese is, it turns out it's a cheese called "pule" that's crafted from donkey milk. The milk comes from a select few donkeys—about 100 in total—and after being crafted, the cheese is then smoked to add even more flavor. Pule goes for $600 a pound or more—that's a pretty hefty price!
6 It Takes 10 Liters Of Milk To Make 1 Kilo Of Hard Cheese
Just like it takes pounds and pounds of greenery to feed the animals that eventually become the protein on your plate, it takes a ton of milk to create cheese. To be specific, it takes an average of 10 liters of milk in order to create 1 kg of hard cheese. That's a lot of dairy! No wonder so many cheesemakers end up forging bonds with individuals who produce dairy! There are obviously differences based on the type of cheese you're making and even the type of milk you're using, but still—it just goes to show that making cheese certainly isn't an easy process.
5 Cheese Was Apparently Created Accidentally
Cheese isn't one of those ingredients that you can simply dig up in a garden—it requires a bit of a process to create. So, who on earth was the first person who decided to transform milk into delicious cheese? Well, legend has it that it was a bit of an accident. Apparently, milk was stored in a container that was lined with an animal's stomach, and the milk ended up reacting with the enzyme in the stomach. The milk separated into its two components —whey and curd. "Curd" is simply another word for "cheese"—so, someone decided to give the solids that were created from the milk a try, and the rest is history.
4 Cheeses Named After Cities Are Capitalized; Cheeses That Aren't Are Lower Case
If you've ever wondered why on earth some cheese are capitalized while others aren't, well, we've got the answer for you. The rule is actually quite simple. Cheeses that are named after a city are capitalized—so, cheese like Parmesan, Asiago, Brie, Camembert, and Gouda have their first letter capitalized. You may not know right away that they're named after cities, but a quick search will yield the answer. Other cheeses that aren't linked to particular cities—like feta, provolone, and cheddar—are simply referred to in the lower case. So, in your quest to accurately name cheeses, you just may find yourself getting a bit of a geography lesson!
3 Lactose Intolerant Cheeses
Chances are, if you're lactose intolerant, you just assumed you can't eat any cheese. After all, cheese is made from dairy, so it only makes sense that you'd be intolerant to it as well, right? Well, it's not quite as simple as that. It turns out, cheese with less sugar in them automatically have less lactose since lactose is just a type of sugar. So, while lactose intolerant individuals will likely be intolerant to quite a few varieties of cheese, there are some aged options that they may have a much easier time digesting, such as the delectable Parmigiano-Reggiano. Who knew?
2 Cheese Is The Number One Most Shoplifted Food In The World
If you had to guess what the most shoplifted item in the world was, you likely would've thought of something luxurious, like jewelry. And while that may be the case for consumer goods, when it comes to food, it's not ritzy black truffles that come in at the top for the most shoplifted edible items—it's cheese. Apparently, around 4% of the world's cheese ends up getting stolen. We're not sure if it's just because it's easy to sell or perhaps because certain shoplifters have expensive tastes and appreciate a good artisanal cheese, but still—pretty crazy! Who would've thought cheese would be such a hot commodity?
1 A Cheese Lover Is Called A "Turophile"
If you've ever waxed poetic about just how obsessed with cheese you are, we've got a new word for you—turophile. It turns out, a turophile is someone who really, really loves cheese. It's not a word that most people are familiar with, but it's certainly a fun fact to break out around the cheese board. There are many of us who would consider ourselves oenophiles and turophiles—wine and cheese lovers. After all, it's basically a perfect pairing, and the varieties are absolutely endless. Who doesn't love to sample a new cheese from time to time? There are so many options on the market!