I was fortunate to travel to Chicago to visit Cracker Barrel last week as a brand ambassador and to learn as much as possible about what goes into making one of my favorite foods – cheese!

Cracker Barrel Cheese | addapinch.com

We spent time learning the history of cheese, cheese making, cheese pairings with wines, beers, chocolates, herbs, and so, so much more.


we learned the art behind cheese judging…


we tasted…


and tasted some more…


we took tons of photos…


we tried our hand at pairings and plating…


and we learned there is so much more to great cheese than meets the eye!


I was fascinated to learn the United States is the largest cheese-producing country in the world with 40% of its milk production being used to make cheese. Even more fascinating is the fact that it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheddar! It makes sense really though, since cheese is a wonderful way of preserving fresh ingredients. I just know I’ll never look at a block of cheese the same! So much care and attention goes into every package!


Founded in 1954, Cracker Barrel is named for the fixture found in country stores where people gathered to chat and socialize. At Cracker Barrel, they are guided by their love of quality cheese and their cheese making heritage. They hold true to their heritage by still using the same proprietary heirloom starter cultures as when Cracker Barrel was founded in 1954. But, as they say, when you have a great thing, why change it! Cracker Barrel has a long history of crafting award winning cheeses. Just over the past two decades, Cracker Barrel has been honored with international, national, state, and local awards at cheese competitions. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest® in Green Bay, Wisconsin awarded Cracker Barrel’s sharp cheddar as Best in Class in the medium cheddar category and second runner up in the entire competition this year. The awards are really too numerous to list! But for an idea, you really just have to take a minute to notice all of the award stamps on each of their cheese packages. It is absolutely impressive!

Spring Cheese Pairings

The chefs working with us created beautiful, mouthwatering seasonal cheese pairings that are perfect for entertaining. I know those they created for spring would be wonderful for an Easter brunch or dinner. Since cheese, fruit and crackers are always something I have on hand, these quick pairings are easy to pull together for guests in no time.

Balsamic Strawberry Cheese Tray | addapinch.com

Prepare a board of cracked black pepper crackers, sliced strawberries sprinkled with bits of basil, slices of Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve Cheddar, pieces of white chocolate, and a small container of balsamic glaze and allow guests to serve themselves. Otherwise, you can create individual appetizers by layering the ingredients onto a cracked black pepper cracker for passing.

Honey Pecan Nectarine Cheddar Appetizers | addapinch.com

Create a simple appetizer of butter crackers, Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheese, a toasted pecan half, a slice of nectarine or peach, and a drizzle of honey. The chef’s original creation used a blueberry instead of the nectarine and tasted wonderful. I decided to recreate this great appetizer with a juicy nectarine I found at the market.



Place a slice of Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve onto a chocolate wafer topped with sliced almonds and dried cherries for a pairing that tastes like a delicious bite of cheesecake! If you have chocolate lovers in your midst (and who doesn’t) this will certainly appeal to them!

Disclosure: I have been selected by BlogHer and Kraft Foods to be an ambassador for Cracker Barrel cheese. While I have been compensated for my time, my opinions are my own. Photo Credits: Unless otherwise watermarked, photos are provided by Todd Rosenberg / Cracker Barrel.

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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  1. Oh, this looks like it was a wonderful time! I love getting insight to things like this, really makes you more appreciative of your favorite snacks.

    1. I miss you too, Karly!!! It was great hanging out and devouring Chicago with you! 🙂

  2. Please please please!!! Get rid of those insidious pop up adds !!!!! They ruin your blog!!! You are my favorite and I love reading your site every day!!! But those pop up ads that won’t delete are so annoying I am about to stop trying to read you!!!! Please!!

    1. Hi Barbara,
      Thank you so much for letting me know there was an issue with pop ups! I can’t stand those things either! I’ve gone back into my advertising settings and double check that I’ve not authorized take-over type ads. There are some ads that if you hover over them for about 3 seconds or longer, they will pop up, but those are really user driven. Please let me know if you see any more and where they are located on my site so I can zap those things!!! 🙂

      In the meantime, if you just want to make sure none ever come back to bug ya, you may want to look at the pop up blocker for your toolbar.


      Again, I really, really appreciate your letting me know, Barbara and just know I want to make sure when you visit it is absolutely enjoyable and easy to read!



    1. It truly was a fabulous few days. The folks from Cracker Barrel feel like family now – the family you really, really want to be around! 🙂