Do you love cheese balls? More important, do you make cheese balls? If you answered both questions with a resounding yes, The Pitch has a special holiday contest for you. Want to know more? Read on.
My mother didn't think the winter holidays officially started until someone put out the first cheese ball of the season. She had her own recipe for a distinctive creation that involved using food coloring to tint cream cheese red and green, which she then layered, rolled into a ball and finally coated with chopped peanuts. If that sounds horrible — well, it was. Still, it added a colorful note to her limited repertoire of holiday snacks. (You know, like pigs in a blanket and celery spears topped with Kraft pimento cheese spread).
I tried to do some serious research to find when the cheese ball — the kind served on party trays with crackers and fruit — was invented, but I came up empty-handed. Angela Wiggins, in the corporate affairs office at Kraft headquarters, tells Fat City that Kraft introduced a recipe for a "cheese roll" in 1942. (The ingredients included Philadelphia cream cheese and Roka Blue cheese.) Wiggins says the earliest printed Kraft recipe for a "party cheese-ball" was dated 1955. That recipe's ingredients included Philadelphia cream cheese and Cracker Barrel cheddar cheese, shredded.
And the recipes have hardly changed since.
Pitch editor Scott Wilson still has the cheese-ball recipe that his late grandmother, Alta Foster, carefully saved for decades. It's likely a Kraft recipe, too, because the ingredients include those little glass jars of Kraft Roka Blue and Old English cheese. Fat City has discovered that re-creating this particular recipe isn't so easy because Kraft produces the Roka Blue cheese only as a seasonal offering, and not every supermarket in the metro carries it. (For the record, all the local Hen House markets have the cheese — for the holidays — in the refrigerated cheese section; a number of area Price Chopper stores carry it as well.)
In celebration of cheese-ball season, The Pitch is hosting its first cheese-ball contest. The top three winners will receive gift certificates from Pryde's Old Westport (115 Westport Road). The first-place winner will receive a $50 certificate, the second-place winner will receive a $30 certificate and the third-place winner will receive a $20 certificate. Each of the three winners also gets a bag of Parisi Artisan Coffee.
The rules? The Pitch is asking readers to submit their favorite festive cheese-ball recipe — one entry per household, please — by linking to this Facebook page. The recipe shouldn't be too complicated or fancy (one doesn't need to add a costly ingredient like Oregon Rogue River blue cheese, currently sold at the Better Cheddar for $42.99 a pound), and the ingredients must include, of course, at least one kind of cheese. All recipes must be submitted online no later than Friday, December 16. Those who send in the top five recipes — chosen for creativity and ease of preparation — will be invited to prepare their signature ball and bring it to The Pitch offices at 1701 Main on Tuesday, December 20, where a panel of judges will choose the top three based on taste, creativity and visual presentation. The winners will be notified by phone that day.
This contest is not open to Pitch employees and their families, and no recipes should be taken from published cookbooks or copyrighted material. No substitute prizes will be awarded.