When it comes to The Masters golf tournament, there’s one food that’s undeniably iconic at Augusta National Golf Club: the pimento cheese sandwich. Many of you know pimento cheese dip as that orangey, gooey cheese dip that’s big in the South. Turns out, there are quite a few little-known facts about this famous—or infamous—cheese.
Here’s our top 4.
1. The name comes from the Spanish pimiento pepper
You may notice there’s an “i” in there. Yep, the pepper in this dip is actually a Spanish pimiento pepper. Yeah, with an “i” in it. What are pimiento peppers, you might ask? They’re those red things inside the green martini olives. In 1912, a Georgia farmer named George Riegel somehow obtained pimiento pepper seeds from the American consul in Spain, which led to a boom in the industry in the US. Somewhere along the way, we dropped the “i” and now we call them pimentos. Who knew?
2. The dip originated in New York—not The South
It may shock some that this southern favorite does not come from the South. In fact, it was actually created in the 1870s in New York, where farmers started making a soft, unripened cheese that became what we now know as cream cheese. Combine this with the peppers, and voilà! The dip was born. The original ingredients may surprise you.
3. It was a popular ration for WWI troops
Thanks to the food-matchmaking practitioners of Domestic Science (also known as Home Economics), cream cheese and pimiento peppers were wed, and they debuted in a 1908 Good Housekeeping recipe for the original pimento cheese dip. This recipe became commercialized in 1910, with grocers offering jars of it for around 20 cents. And with the onset of World War I, it became even more popular as MRE for US troops.
4. There’s a mysterious secret ingredient
The pimento cheese sandwich at The Masters is regarded as the best in the South. But its recipe has been a closely guarded secret for decades. For over 40 years, it belonged to a local caterer named Nick Rangos. But after he lost his catering contract with Augusta National in 1998, he took his recipe to the grave. To this day, all that is known about the mysterious recipe is that there’s a confirmed secret ingredient. What could it be? Talk about intrigue.
Now that we’ve piqued your interest on this intriguing history, check out our Two-Minute Drill video featuring pimento cheese expert and historian, Daina Falk.
So there you have it! Craving pimento cheese now? Us too.