Shoppers gather around what remains of the giant cheese wheel Sunday at The Andersons. Portions also were distributed to The Andersons Maumee and Sylvania stores.
Going, going, almost gone.
Such is the status of the 3,200-pound cheddar cheese wheel, sliced and sold at The Andersons on Talmadge Road beginning Saturday afternoon.
The cheese, crafted and aged for 90 days by a Wisconsin dairy, revives a holiday tradition that melted away when Tiedtke’s department store closed in 1972.
Because of its overwhelming popularity with cheese-buying customers, the giant chunk of cheddar — resembling an oversized barrel standing more than 5 feet tall when unveiled Saturday — was reduced to two wheels each measuring 3 inches deep by Sunday afternoon, said John Kowalski, manager of The Andersons Talmadge Road store.
Mr. Kowalski said the remaining cheese wheels would be sliced and diced into smaller chunks. The cheese was selling for $4.99 a pound.
Small allotments of the product were to be distributed to The Andersons Maumee and Sylvania stores.
“That’s all they’re going to get,” Mr. Kowalski said. “It’s a Toledo tradition.”
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Earlier this year, John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, suggested that The Andersons should order a giant wheel of cheese to bring back the treasured cheese tradition, long savored and long remembered, by area residents who shopped or worked at the Tiedtke’s department store in downtown Toledo.
With the cheese tradition brought back into fruition and nearly the entire wheel sliced and sold, many people were eager to take part in the revival.
Ahead of the ceremonial slicing on Saturday afternoon, store officials could not predict with precision exactly how the big cheese would be accepted by many shoppers who had little connection with the former department store.
But the response was overwhelming.
The public, Mr. Kowalski said, has “been extremely supportive of this and were thanking us and recognizing the tradition.”
Some comments included requests to repeat the event next season, he said.
“You always like it when something like that works out,” said Jeremy Givens, the store’s on-duty manager.
Theresa Piotrowski of Toledo picks up a sixth portion of the giant cheese wheel while shopping for family and friends at The Andersons on Talmadge Sunday.
Sunday’s sales at approximately 1,500 pounds outpaced Saturday, when about 1,000 pounds went out the door, Mr. Givens said.
By closing time at 7 p.m. Sunday, only “a couple hundred pounds were left,” Mr. Givens said.
Sales could cut back a bit today when the store reopens, but all bets were off whether any of the holiday cheese would be available for purchase for sale later in the week.
“If it made it until Tuesday, I’d be mildly surprised,” he said.
Former Toledoans who have an affinity to Tiedtke’s could receive surprise gifts in the coming weeks, judging by the number of customers who loaded their carts with the cheese to send out of town to friends and relatives.
“I ran into a lady who had 10 blocks of cheese in her cart who said she was sending it to people who were from Toledo,” Mr. Givens said.
The weekend success prompted some questions: Would The Andersons do this again next year, and would it order a larger amount?
“It’s a slam dunk,” Mr. Kowalski said. “I can’t imagine not doing it again next year.”
That decision will wait until after the busy holiday shopping season is wrapped up, Mr. Kowalski said.
“We’re going to kick it around. We want it to become a tradition,” he said.
Contact: Jim Sielicki at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.
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