It’s after Thanksgiving, and you probably still have a whole lot of food in your fridge. You may have lost your appetite for it all, weak and doughy from days of an all-beige diet of turkey, stuffing, and flour dusted dinner rolls. Or maybe you’re not. But one thing is certain—after all the effort you put into making that food, you want to make sure that as much of it is eaten as possible. After all, if you’re thrifty, or just anti-waste, throwing out food is close to sacrilege. It’s with this in mind that we address Andrew Jackson’s massive block of cheddar cheese and his solution to the question of what to do with it all.
In 1835, dairy farmer Colonel Thomas S. Meacham of Sandy Creek, NY wanted to pay tribute to the cheese-loving seventh president of the United States. Meacham had the ability to make a gigantic cheese wheel, and he did. The wheel toted a belt lined with patriotic inscriptions; it was four feet in diameter and two feet thick, and weighed a whopping 1400 pounds. This cheese block and nine others were set on display at a celebratory patriotic event in Oswego, NY, but Jackson’s was the largest, and it was sent to the White House soon after. Two other (still totally massive) 750 pound wheels were sent with it, one to Vice President Martin Van Buren and one to New York Governor William L. Marcy.
Now, a 1400-pound block of cheese is a great gift and all, but it’s also sort of impractical, and two years passed before Jackson addressed the situation. Even though he’d given away massive chunks of the wheel, most of it was still left over. On his way out of office, unwilling to lug the whole thing with him, he implemented a strategy that many college students use when confronted with dorm-booze they can’t bring home—he threw a party.
The reception, held at the White House, entertained 10,000 visitors, who were hungry enough to decimate the massive cheese block in just two hours. The smell of cheese that permeated the building, however, was left behind for incoming president Martin Van Buren. Jackson allegedly also left another 700-pound wheel, courtesy of Meacham (who really liked making giant presidential cheese wheels).Van Buren’s presidency was off to a very cheesy start.
So there you have it. If you need to get rid of those last scraps of food, invite some friends over to finish the job. Just be sure to throw an extra box of baking soda in the fridge to clear out the odor.