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Supermarket Showdown: Who’s “The Big Cheese”?


Here at culture: the word on cheese, it can be easy to glamorize the cheese world. From 20-year aged cheddar to merlot-infused Italian-style beauties, our offices are a hotbed for some of the best cheeses in the world. However, there are times when we who work at a magazine about cheese must check our cheese privilege. Our experiences are not the same as the average American cheese consumer. While we might run to the communal fridge for lunch and pick out a cheese from our last tasting, Susie Homemaker is more likely snacking on a round of Babybel that she got on sale at Star Market last week.

It is our job as the nation’s premier authority on cheese to be just that: an authority on cheese. And this doesn’t mean just knowing the hoighty-toighty stuff that comes encrusted with diamonds. Oh no—this reaches all the way down to the individually wrapped neon squares of “cheddar” that fill the lunch bags of thousands of children across the United States. Because they’re cheese people too, damn it, and they deserve some recognition.

So where do I come in? Each week I will head to my neighborhood Stop and Shop and pick up four different brands of the same cheese. The list includes

  • sharp cheddar
  • string cheese
  • ricotta
  • mozzarella
  • spray cheese
  • boxed macaroni and cheese
  • cream cheese
  • and finally goat cheese

My mission: to find out which brands have the best products available in the market today for each specific category of cheese. Who has the best ricotta? The best shredded mix? What about string cheese? Does a higher priced cheese really taste better? And what the hell does the Laughing Cow think is so funny?

By the end of my blog series, I hope I will have given voice to the run-of-the-mill American cheese lover who can’t necessarily spend double-digits at a specialty shop to get a good hunk of gouda. I hope to shed a light on the best products available for the average consumer, letting them know which cheeses have been deemed culture worthy and which cheeses are better left on the shelf. But most importantly, I plan on determining which product deserves the esteemed title of The Big Cheese—the best taste at the best price.

So tune in next week for my first official post on sharp cheddar and get ready for a SUPERMARKET SHOWDOWN.

Feature Photo Credit: Sentavio | Shutterstock

Julian Plovnick

Julian is a die-hard dairy lover from the Boston area, working for culture this summer as an editorial intern. When not studying English at Vassar College, Julian can be found binge-watching Top Chef (quiz him on any season and he’ll know the elimination order, no joke), refilling his coffee IV, or researching new ways to incorporate ricotta into his life.