Hi. Winnie Griggs here. I subscribe to one of those “This Day In History” Calendars. Not only do I enjoy reading the interesting little tidbits to be found there, but it’s also a great idea sparker for future stories.
When I checked out the entry for today, this is the note I found:
Mar 26, 1804: On this day in 1804, President Thomas Jefferson attends a public party at the Senate and leads a diverse crowd in consuming an enormous loaf of bread dubbed the “mammoth loaf.”
Intrigued, I had to do some follow-up research and came across an even more intriguing tidbit - that the loaf was baked to go with a mammoth cheese that had been given to the president two years earlier. And for the record, I’m using the word mammoth deliberately, because that’s how these items were described at the time. I found a footnote that stated Americans of this period were enamored with the term due to fascination with the discovery of a giant woolly mammoth skeleton in
in 1801. New York
But I digress. This massive wheel of cheese was the brain child of John Leland, the Elder of a Baptist congregation made up of the staunchly Republican citizens of a farming community located in the Berkshire Hills of western
. The goal was to recognize and commemorate Massachusetts Jefferson’s long-standing devotion to religious freedoms.
It was reported that the milk from 900 cows went into the making of the cheese and that it was formed in a cider press that measured six feet in diameter. The final product, once cured, measured more than 4 feet in diameter, 13 feet in circumference, 17 inches high and weighed 1235 pounds.
Transporting this huge cheese wheel from
John Leland presented it to