While it’s hard to imagine anyone appreciating the heavenly combination of shredded cheese, mayo, and diced red pimentos as much as Southerners, the delicious spread actually got its start up North—in New York. At the time it was made of cream cheese and pimentos.
Everyone had fairly easy access to packaged cream cheese, but the pimento peppers were expensive to import. An industrious Georgia farmer saw an opportunity and started growing and distributing them in the U.S. Some say this is what brought the dish to the South.
The two ingredients were finally brought together in 1908, in a Good Housekeeping recipe that called for cream cheese, mustard, chives, and minced pimentos. The combination of cream cheese and pimento was such a hit, it started to be mass-produced, primarily in the South.
After World War II, home cooks started making their own pimento cheese, swapping cream cheese for something called “hoop cheese” and then cheddar, and using a good dollop of mayonnaise to bind it all together. From there it has become a staple of church picnics and school potlucks and even shows up at some of the South’s finest restaurants.
“Master”ful pimento cheese sandwich
There are many traditions at The Masters in Augusta including pristine greens, azaleas and dogwoods, and golf history that comes alive on almost every hole. You can add pimento cheese to that list. Sandwiches fly out of the concession stands for only $1.50 each. What a deal!
If you aren’t headed to Augusta National, you can make a pimento cheese sandwich at home using the original recipe from Tee Time at the Masters, Par 3 cookbook.
3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (4-oz) jar sliced pimentos, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbs Dijon mustard
1 loaf of white bread
Combine cheeses, pimentos, mayo, and mustard in a food processor and process until smooth. Cover and chill. Spread on bread slices.
Add a bag of chips and some Arnold Palmer iced tea and you are all set.
Recipe for Arnold Palmer Iced Tea
Combine 1/2 iced tea and 1/2 lemonade in a pitcher and fill with ice. Serve and enjoy!