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Government Cheese

Why do we all know what this is? Somehow, those big five pound blocks of yellow cheese with the five year shelf life made it into our refrigerators at some time in our lives. I saw it occasionally as a kid when mom used it to make grilled cheese sandwiches. It was pretty good too, almost as good as that other delicacy Velveeta. I just have no idea where it came from. There was a red rind on it, if memory serves, and it looked like a rectangular log. My parents never went to food banks. Dad was a cop and maybe someone bribed him with a block of Government Cheese?

I again came upon Government Cheese when I had my own children. Being a more sophisticated cook than my own mother, I made nachos out of it. I know I used it but I have no idea how I got it. I never went to a food bank. Where did this stuff come from and why is it called “Government Cheese?”

I have asked several friends about this and they all agree that they know exactly what it is and they have had it too. But none of us have any idea where it came from and how we ended up with it. I’m sure that Safeway never had a brand named “Government Cheese.” All I can figure is that someone must have given it to us.

When I asked my own adult children about it, they both responded “oh yeah, Government Cheese! We loved that!” Now I know for damned sure I never called it “Government Cheese” in front of my children. They would have run to school and announced loudly “Mom made nachos with Guv’Ment Cheese again!” We may have eaten it, but I didn’t want it talked about! 

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