Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses in the entire world, used in everything from baking bread to making cheeseburgers. It originated in Somerset, with early records putting the time period somewhere around the end of the 12th Century.
The Cheddar namesake comes from Gorge, which are caves in the town of Cheddar that were used to store cheese in order to increase its shelf life. This was something like an early refrigerator. The caves would have had ideal temperatures, and consistent humidity to help mature the cheese.
Cheddaring also became a verb, referring to the process of making cheese, thanks to the town of Cheddar. This specific process is designed to help curd whey, stretching it to create a harder cheese with a firm body. This is why cheddar is consistently firmer than other cheeses like Brie.
Cheddar cheese was the greatest cheese in Britain, officially, as of 1170. King Henry II had purchased over 10,000 pounds of the stuff at a price of one farthing per pound. His son James, who ruled after his death until 1216, seems to have shared his father’s affinity for the stuff. Cheddar had grown so popular by the time Charles I took the throne in 1625 that cheese was purchased before it was even made. Perhaps one of the world’s earliest concepts of pre-ordering.
Cheddar is available worldwide, and it’s one of the most common cheeses available. It’s used heavily in sandwich making, sharp variants accompany wines and cheddar tasting is a popular pastime in some social circles.