The idea of a room full of college students thoughtfully nibbling on Kraft Singles might seem absurd, but for prospective members of the Binghamton University Cheese Club, this activity served as an introduction to the new group’s unique philosophies.
“We made this club so that other people with average knowledge of cheese who like cheese as much as we do can come, and we can all learn together about cheeses,” said Erin Livingston, club president and a junior majoring in art history.
The Cheese Club gives members the opportunity to expand their palates by tasting and discussing different types of cheese. The organization held their first general interest meeting on Friday, Jan. 19.
Livingston was inspired to bring a cheese club to campus while visiting a friend at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After learning that her friend goes to weekly meetings during which she samples and discusses cheese, Livingston decided she wanted to start a similar club at Binghamton University. She shared the idea with a few of her friends, and what started out as a joke became a genuine endeavor.
Luke Hoffmann, secretary of the club and a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said that the club’s founding members had little previous experience with cheese beyond eating it.
“We all appreciated cheese, but none of us really knew anything about tasting cheese or how it’s made, so we’re growing with the club,” Hoffmann said.
The club’s first meeting was publicized through word of mouth and social media, and the premise proved intriguing enough to draw a crowd of around 50 people. Cheese enthusiasts and curious students intrigued by the club’s novelty tasted two varieties of American cheese and gave them number ratings based on appearance, aroma, flavor, texture and finish. After tasting the samples, attendees shared their opinions with the group and viewed slides that outlined the history of American cheese.
Each subsequent meeting of the club will be structured similarly to the general interest meeting; members will sample one or two types of cheese and score them. In addition to weekly meetings, the executive board plans to host events like “Hack Your Easy Mac,” a mac and cheese potluck and a “Faux Cheese Fiesta.”
The club is still going through the process of obtaining a charter from the Student Association, so until it is able to get funding, it will rely on donations given through Venmo and a collection jar at meetings to fund cheese samples. The e-board also plans to design and sell Cheese Club apparel as a fundraising strategy.
Livingston said that as she learns more about cheese, she has grown to appreciate it as a versatile ingredient.
“I like that cheese can be incorporated into all types of dishes,” she said. “It can change the way you try that dish, and it can make or break it.”
The Cheese Club will host its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 31 in University Union Room 120 at 6 p.m., and subsequent meetings will take place every other Wednesday in the same location at 6 p.m.