Blowing the Blue Cheese Whistle

I don’t know if it’s just me, but blue cheese seems to be popping up in places it shouldn’t. At first it was the occasional seasonal dish at the higher-end restaurants. But I wasn’t too worried because we all know those chefs experiment until some other new shiny ingredient pops up to distract them. Plus, let’s be honest. I don’t eat at very many high-end restaurants, so I could eat and let eat. But then blue cheese infiltrated that most hallowed of pedestrian eating places, my workplace cafeteria. There is a pre-made sandwich station and for years there was a decent rotation of the tried and true with interesting variations—tuna salad, chicken salad, Caesar salad wraps mixed in with cranberry, almond chicken salad on brioche or the roasted vegetable and feta wrap. Then there was the occasional diet-wrecking walk on the wild side, an Italian sub with hot peppers.

But something happened on the way to the sandwich station. Suddenly blue cheese started showing up in everything, nearly every day. Roast beef and blue cheese, vegetables and bleu cheese, and the final straw, a BLT with blue cheese—for the love of meat, just leave the bacon alone! Did I mention this cafeteria is in a hospital? I mean can’t blue cheese give pregnant women Listeria or some other kind of infection? And who the hell actually likes blue cheese? Cheddar, that king of inoffensive cheeses, makes sense to include on occasion, but blue cheese? Oh sure, you get that little cup of it next to your Buffalo wings, but more often than not, it’s been stripped of actual blue cheese chunks and there is no mold to be found anywhere. And why? Because most people don’t actually like blue cheese.

Clearly the blue cheese had escaped its Buffalo wings side dip status and infiltrated the cafeteria. I noticed people started hovering longer at the sandwich station. They were looking in vain for an old standby, but failing that, they were trying to land a sandwich that didn’t feature blue cheese. Most left empty-handed and beat a path to the salad bar, which thankfully kept its blue cheese safely imprisoned in the dressing bottle like “I Dream of Jeannie.”

I began to wonder. Did the cafeteria get a new chef who was fired from a restaurant for making too many blue cheese dishes? Did the manager go to a cafeteria sandwich convention? Or is food like the fashion chain described in “The Devil Wears Prada” where the decisions about colors and designs for the season get made on the runways of New York and Paris and those get filtered down to the less-than-couture-clothes you get at discount department store chains? Perhaps there was some haute blue cheese buzz in Paris, and now I was paying the price.

I decided to get to the bottom of this nefarious development and do some research. What I found was too disturbing for me to keep quiet, so I’m revealing it, damn the consequences to my writing career. At the end of 2014, a major food distributor, Gordon Food Service, blogged about using blue cheese as part of offering fancy grilled cheese on restaurant menus. Encouraged  it, even. Then, in January, another food-related blog consulted an expert known only as The Cheese Lady to discern what’s hot in the world of wine and cheese for 2015. The Cheese Lady owns stores in five major Michigan cities—she clearly has control of the food opinions of the entire state. The blog featured a picture of a slice of blue cheese on a sweet cracker with honey and real butter. The cheese was served at—you guessed it, one of the stores. The blogger claimed it was delicious, obviously compromised by this taste making Don. This blue cheese ring was getting bigger by the minute.

This seemed quite serious, but I tried not to panic—I couldn’t stop the big players from pushing their cheese, but surely once the cafeteria chef realized they had piles of leftover blue cheese  sandwiches every day, they’d chalk up the experiment and move on. But it only got worse. Next to the blue cheese sandwiches appeared ones with beet spread.  I’m sure beets could harm people too. They seem like a shifty vegetable. I have no doubt they’d be listed as the hot vegetable trend for 2015. Was there no end to this corruption?

For months the insidious blue cheese sandwiches kept appearing. Then just last week my coworker gave me the bad news: Wendy’s was introducing a bacon and blue cheese burger. There it was in black on white on that pinnacle of food websites,

“Honing in on one of the hottest food trends of 2015, Wendy’s goes blue-cheese bold to satisfy customers’ cravings with its latest premium offering, the new Bacon and Blue on Brioche. The limited-time hamburger is packed with robust, artisan blue cheese – delivering a bluetiful meal option crafted with tantalizing tastes and ingredients.”

Dear god, what was happening? I only had one hope: the words, “limited-time.” The announcement came out in late January, so maybe the burger has already come and gone. I don’t know because I’m going to have to lay low after blowing this blue cheese whistle. It’s only a matter of time before the Blue Cheese Association finds me, or worse, the dreaded Dairy Foods Association. I have a lactose intolerant friend who still can’t talk about her run-in with those folks.

My only consolation is that I did what I had to do to stop this blue cheese madness. Whatever else happens, know that I did it for you all. And I did it for me, because I really do hate blue cheese.

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  1. Clearly you’ve not a drop of Finnish blood in you! They love their blue cheese – on pizza. With peaches on pizza! And in soup with smoked reindeer. Stay away, Sandy. stay far away!

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