Feb. 9 2024 09:46 AM

No matter if your team wins or loses, cheese is a winning addition to any social event.

I’d venture to guess the last thing on a dairy farmer’s mind when milking their cows is how that milk will become a Super Bowl Sunday appetizer.

But what else is there to think about this time of year, really?

Forget the Grammy’s or the Oscar’s or the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day. It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday! What witty Super Bowl commercial will Dorito’s air this year, and will Usher perform “DJ Got us Falllin’ In Love” at his halftime show? Most importantly, what will the in-laws be serving at their annual watch party (and is their request you bring a side dish a requirement or a suggestion)?

The Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin estimates that Americans will consume 88 million pounds of cheese this year on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s a lot of cheese.

Even dairy-sensitive-stomached persons such as I find it difficult to resist a bite of provolone atop a prosciutto-donned cracker on a normal day, let alone on a day of celebration like the Super Bowl. Well, celebration if your team wins, of course. Bemoaning if your team loses. (Both of which, by the way, pair splendidly with one of the 12.5 million pizzas that are sold on Super Bowl Sunday.)

But isn’t it more than that? Is not the Super Bowl a time of coming together, of belonging, of remembering what it is to be human in this increasingly technological world? Does it not mirror the sentiments of Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July, embracing the same food attunement and interpersonal revitalization? What is football, after all, if not an excuse to share in rage or jubilee or both, paying tribute to one of our most fundamental evolutionary instincts: competition?

Your team gets a touchdown? Take a grilled cheese shooter. They miss a field goal? Pop a cheese curd. Fumble? Nacho dip. Cameras pan to Taylor Swift? Cheese board. There is no gametime event that does not elicit indulgence. Add to that the energizing experience of being surrounded by people you love (or hate, depending on their team alliance), and you’ve got a recipe for optimal game-day enjoyment.

The fact that dairy contributes so heavily to this event (if enough people call-off from work the day after, is it a holiday?) is no happy coincidence. Dairy has long been associated with celebrations and gatherings around the globe. From afternoon chai in India to dessert cheeses in France, many cultures have specific uses for the product, making it not only an ingredient bringing all of America together, but the world, too.

In my household, Kansas-natives that we are, it’ll be vibrant red-and-gold all-around this Sunday. (Not to be confused with the gold of the 1849 gold rush; am I the only one who had no idea that’s where name “49ers” came from?) Whomever you cheer for, whatever your spread looks like, odds are a bit of dairy will make its way to your bones. Just think — somewhere, a farmer and their humble cows made that happen. How cool is that?

Kathryn E. Childs

The author is a freelance writer from Rockford, Illinois.