Ode to ‘Big Block of Cheese Day’

The White House has announced plans for its version of the second annual “Big Block of Cheese Day” later this month, a poor substitute for the actual format President Andrew Jackson used in 1837 when he had a 1,400-pound block of cheese hauled into the main foyer of the White House for an open house. While citizens mingled with the White House staff, they could discuss the issues of the day.

The current administration version will use the arm’s-length format of online questions-and-answers about the president’s State of the Union speech, which rather defeats the whole point.

No matter. The greatest contribution to the nation has already been made. To promote its promotion, the White House has reassembled the surviving cast of the West Wing, which once counted Big Block of Cheese Day (known as “The Crackpots and These Women“, the 5th episode of season 1)as one of its most popular episodes.

We’re guessing Aaron Sorkin didn’t write it.

In the original West Wing version, the workers at the White House met crackpots…

… and they found that while they were, in fact, crackpots, there was value in listening to what they had to say.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Hey, NewsCut, how did President Jackson get a two-ton block of cheese?”

Mental Floss has the answer:

This cheese was actually the crown jewel of a larger collection of ten cheeses that appeared at an 1835 patriotic celebration in Oswego, NY. After the locals all got a good look at the cheese and felt themselves well up with national pride, the wheel was loaded onto a schooner and set sail for its new home on Pennsylvania Avenue. Meacham sent off two other 750-pound wheels in the same shipment, one to Vice President Martin Van Buren and one to New York Governor William L. Marcy.

At some point, we’ve all received a thoughtful, touching, impractical gift and wondered, “What the hell am I going to do with this?” Jackson apparently had the same reaction when the cheese finally arrived at the White House. According to 19th-century biographer James Parton’s Life of Andrew Jackson, the old general gave giant chunks of the cheese to his friends, but he was still left with an absurdly outsized block. Jackson could conquer the Bank of the United States, but he was helpless against such a massive wheel of cheese.

It took 10,000 visitors only two hours to eat two tons of cheese.

Alright, what’s next?

(h/t: Vince Tuss)