It's Big Block Of Cheese Day!

You feta believe that the White House will hold its third annual Big Block of Cheese Day on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the quirky tradition doesn't involve any actual dairy products, though it was inspired by an historic block of cheese. So what is Big Block of Cheese Day, exactly? The event was conceived of for an episode of The West Wing, in which fictional president Jed Bartlet's Chief of Staff Leo McGarry told his cohorts of how Andrew Jackson once put a huge block of cheese in the White House foyer as a way of inviting Americans inside. "It is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson that I, from time to time, ask senior staff to have face-to-face meetings with those people representing organizations who have a difficult time getting our attention," McGarry explains.

That story about President Jackson is true. He did indeed put a 1,400-pound block of cheese in the White House foyer during an 1837 open house. The giant wheel of cheese was a gift from a dairy farmer, and he decided to share it at his last public reception because, well, that's a lot of cheese for one person to consume. Although it wasn't necessarily planned as a method of opening up communication between the executive branch and the American public, it went down in history as just that. The Obama administration began Big Block of Cheese Day in honor of The West Wing and President Jackson.

It's now much simpler for Americans to talk to staffers in Washington than it was in Jackson's or The West Wing's day, so Big Block of Cheese Day now involves sending questions via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. All day Wednesday, White House officials will answer people's questions, and you can send your own by using the hashtag #BigBlockOfCheeseDay on any social media site.

Different staffers will be engaged at different times of the day, chatting about the State of the Union, the economy, education, immigration, the climate, science, foreign policy, health care, and social justice. First Lady Michelle Obama, Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and Vice President Joe Biden will also participate throughout the day.


The White House's blog post about the event was full of hilarious cheese puns, including "It's That Time of Gruyère," "Excited? So are brie," and "We feta see you there." The only thing that would make Big Block of Cheese Day more exciting is a real wheel of cheddar in the White House, in true 1837 fashion. However, lots and lots of cheese jokes somewhat make up for the lack of free White House snacks. Guess it's BYOC.