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Ohio Revives a Cheesy Tradition


Ohio holds a special place in America’s heart during the holiday season. Let’s face it – who doesn’t love indulging in the constant TV re-runs of A Christmas Story? Arguably one of the most iconic Christmas-themed movies, this holiday classic is filled with leg-lamp humor, set against the backdrop of snowy Cleveland, Ohio. For many Americans across the country, taking a peak into the life of this dysfunctional yet lovable Midwest family is a favorite Christmas tradition. Just a few hours drive from Cleveland, another Ohio holiday tradition is making quite the scene, particularly among cheese enthusiasts.

Toledo, Ohio, might not be a big city, but that didn’t stop it from taking on a big cheese challenge: 3,200 pounds of cheese, to be exact. This year, the town revived an old tradition by kicking off the holiday season with a monumental cheese slicing ceremony. Toledoans flocked to The Andersons market – a local general store – to witness the slicing of a massive 3,200 lb. cheddar cheese wheel, which stood over five feet tall. This pillar of Wisconsin mild cheddar was wrapped in ribbons and bows, the picture of holiday cheer for cheese lovers.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of The Andersons Store

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of The Andersons Store

The annual cutting of a super-sized cheese wheel was formerly a beloved Toledo tradition, hosted by Tiedtke Department Store in downtown Toledo. However, when the store closed in 1973, the Christmas cheese tradition was also put to rest, leaving generations of Toledoans with nothing more than fond memories of the event. 2014 marks the return of this tradition, and the cheese-slicing revival was an overwhelming success. In just three short days the entire cheese wheel was sold out, with over 1,500 pounds disappearing on the first day.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of toledoblade.com

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of toledoblade.com

John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of Toledo’s local newspaper, The Blade, said in an interview regarding the ceremony, “It’s just tremendous… Some people wonder whether this kind of memory needs to be revived, and what we discovered today is sometimes, what people fondly remember can be seen again.” Many cheese lovers bought several pounds of cheese, with the intention of sending blocks to friends and family who had moved away from the Glass City but still remembered the long-lost Toledo tradition. Young families created new memories by having their child’s picture taken sitting atop the massive cheese tower. With such a cheesy history, it seems as though this unique Ohio Christmas story will be something cheese fans can look forward to for many years to come.

Photo Credit: Featured image courtesy of toledoblade.com

Emily Dangler

Culture Intern Emily Dangler is a creative writer and travel enthusiast, who is always looking for a good story to tell. Originally a West Coast girl, Emily has spent several years migrating across the country and is currently an adopted resident of Boston, where she is enjoying the city's delicious food and rich history.