Of course a cheese’s personality is largely dependent on the taste, texture, aroma, and ingredients that go into it, but there are other parts of a cheese’s story that contribute to its character. In this blog series, Natalie investigates the distinct personality traits of some of the most unique cheeses out there.
Wallace and Gromit are the silly and charming stars of a series of British claymation films that began in 1989. In each Wallace and Gromit animation, you can expect that the slightly dopey inventor Wallace will get into some kind of far-fetched trouble, and his very tolerant dog Gromit will help get him out of it. But what nobody expected is that Wallace and Gromit would bring a cheese back to life with their shenanigans.
If you’ve ever seen any of the Wallace and Gromit animations, you probably know how passionate Wallace is about cheese. In fact, in the first film, they build a rocket and fly to the moon just because they’ve run out of cheese (everybody knows the moon is made out of it, so what better place is there to get some?).
Around the time that the Wallace and Gromit films started coming out, a cheese by the name of Wensleydale had been experiencing a worrying decrease in sales. The makers of the cheese thought they might have to cease production—but then Wallace proclaimed his love for Wensleydale and turned it all around.
Wensleydale doesn’t take a central role in the films—it’s mentioned in passing. In their shortA Close Shave, for example, Wallace invites a woman he has a crush on in for some cheese and crackers. When she admits she’s allergic to cheese and says she’ll pass, Wallace is taken aback. “Not even Wensleydale?” he asks. Needless to say, that was the end of that relationship.
The decision to mention Wensleydale as Wallace’s favorite cheese was fairly arbitrary. The makers of the films simply chose to use it because of the sound of the name, which would be interesting to animate coming from Wallace’s mouth. But the image of Wallace and his beloved Wensleydale ended up making quite the mark on viewers.
Wensleydale was originally named after the region in England in which it was made. The cheese has a distinct flavor due to the limestone-based pastures that the cows in this region graze on. In the ’90s,Wensleydale Creamery had to leave Wensleydale, which changed the character of the cheese and further hurt the already struggling brand (Wensleydale had been trying to get back on the map since milk rationing during WWII stunted the British cheese industry). Wallace and Gromit unintentionally revived the cheese’s reputation just in time. After the release of their 2005 feature film,Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Wensleydale sales had increased by 23%.
Wensleydale is a cheese that’s crumbly but moist and mild but tangy, with hints of honey. In England, it’s traditionally eaten with apple pie or fruitcake. It’s often laced with cranberries, or made in a blue style.
Now, over 20 years after Wallace and Gromit’s debut, the lovable duo is still associated with the brand. Wensleydale Creamery now produces several products branded with Wallace and Gromit, including a cheese gift box called “Crackers about Cheese.”
Now that Wallace and Gromit are a part of Wensleydale’s story, it’s not going anywhere. And hopefully, they aren’t either, because they really changed this cheese’s personality.
Featured image by Wikimedia Commons