In 1835 New York dairy farmer Thomas Meacham sent President Andrew Jackson a 1,400-pound wheel of cheese as a gift. It aged in the Entrance Hall of the White House for two years. On January 29, 1837 the President, as was the custom, invited the public to a reception in the East Room and offered a choice refreshment: Cheese. Hungry citizens finished the entire cheese in two hours, but its fragrance lingered in Entrance Hall for some time.
At 9:00 PM on January 29, 2014, the day after he delivers the State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama has invited the public to a virtual Big Block of Cheese Day. There’s no free cheese, but White House officials will respond to questions in real time via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Google+ Hangout (hashtag #AsktheWH). Whether this is a good idea or not remains to be seen, but it sure seems like White House staffers learned about Andy Jackson’s big cheese from the West Wing TV show: