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''For the Love of Cheese'' explains what is corny

Lance Crapo’s book puts cheesiness under a microscope

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Cheese is finally coming out of the pantry. Not that cheese — the stuff foisted upon us by dairy boards. No, this is a more nebulous brand — the sort that occurs when one is musing about Tina Yothers’ whereabouts, feeling ”powder fresh,” or putting lip marks on correspondence. Tacky, corny, cheesy goings-on.

If you’re still, heaven help you, in doubt about what constitutes cheese, it might behoove you to consult the ambitious, yet far from definitive taxonomy For the Love of Cheese. ”Toasting” the phenomenon in all of its forms, this is a merciless list of fromage-ridden things, people, and acts compiled by the editors of Might magazine after a similarly themed issue sold out.

”For a long time,” explains coeditor Lance Crapo, ”cheese in this country has been the crazy aunt in the basement no one’s wanted to talk about. But we’re bringing her out, putting a baton in her hand, and letting her lead the parade!”

An aptly chosen conceit. For as any connoisseur knows, baton twirling is right up there in the triple-creme cheese ranks, along with fanny packs, Julie Andrews, and laughing at the ”agony of defeat” skier on Wide World of Sports.

Are Crapo and his cohorts being a mite condescending? ”No. No, no, no, no. No. No,” he protests. ”We’re not arbiters of taste. We’re not saying ‘Acid-washed jeans are cheesy.’ We’re saying humming the theme of Rocky is cheesy.” To elaborate: Watching the Olympics isn’t cheesy. Commenting on a swimmer’s abs while doing so is. Gymnasts aren’t cheesy. Dating a gymnast is. ”See the subtleties?” Crapo asks. Sure, we guess. So, is cheese on the rise? ”Cheese is an enduring quality,” he insists. ”It’s just never been looked at under the microscope.”