British Cheese Board to sniff out Cheddar anthem

Britain's most popular cheese will soon have its own anthem, after the BCB launched a competition looking for lyrics.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 14 Jan 2014

The cheese evangelists are looking for people to come up with original lyrics that can be set to the tune of the great British classics, God Save the Queen (hopefully not the Sex Pistols’ version), Land of Hope and Glory, or Jerusalem. More than half of all the cheese bought in the UK each year is Cheddar, and the BCB’s secretary said it was important to find ‘a fitting anthem to this national treasure’. Without an original tune though, it looks like contestants will be simply reinventing the wheel. Of cheese. Geddit?

It’s hoped that choirs and musicians across the country will take part, posting their submissions in either video or audio form before 15 June. A panel of judges from BCB will make a shortlist of five versions, and the final winner will be decided by public vote. Former Blur bassist Alex James, who became a champion of British cheese after the band’s heyday, said the competition combined ‘two of the best things in life – music and cheese’. Hopefully not cheesy music.

The launch of the competition is the second act of recognition for a type of British cheese in as many months. Last month the town of Stilton in Cambridgeshire had a plaque added to the village sign designating it the home of Stilton cheese. The mouldy blue stuff has been the subject of debate for many years because of questions about its origin. Back in 1996, the Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association convinced the big cheeses at the EU to give Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status to stop Stilton being called Stilton across the EU if it is not made in specifically designated areas in the UK. 

The UK’s dairy industry has curdled in recent months; Robert Wiseman Dairies was sold to Germany’s Muller for £280m back in January, and just a few weeks ago Dairy Crest announced the bad-smelling news that it was closing two production facilities, threatening more than 500 jobs. It is notoriously hard to make any money out of liquid milk, so any surviving UK dairies are keener to chalk up bigger margins from a wheel of Wensleydale or a few pots of yoghurt. 

The winner of the anthem-writing competition will receive a year’s supply of British Cheddars as well as two weekend trips to Alex James’s food and music festival, which kicks off in September 2012. A mature, but pretty cheesy involvement from this former Britpop rock star…

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