Secrets of Cheese Signage
What inspires you to pick up a cheese and take it home for the night?
I’m asking because this question has been keeping me up at night. It’s the subject of a talk I agreed to give at PASA’s Farming for the Future Conference on February 7 — a talk called “Describing Products for Market: How to Write for Readers and Customers.” Eeep! Writing for readers is one thing, but I don’t think of you as a “customer,” and yet you are. If you read this blog, you probably take risks on cheeses when you shop.
So, what makes you step out of your comfort zone and buy something other than the old familiars…mozzarella, jack, havarti, cheddar?
Are you inspired by…
- clever signage (remember Jeff Gordinier’s NYT article on ripe prose)?
- a conversation with a cheesemonger who offers you a taste?
- creative labeling or savvy packaging?
- pairing suggestions?
- context — like seeing a picture of the farm where the cheese is made? or happy cows?
- social media imagery from particular vendors?
I’d like to share your feedback with Pennsylvania cheesemakers — picture Amish beards, farmers’ market vendors, future cheesemakers, old creaky cheesmakers, people without marketing degrees or brand managers. If you could offer a tip from your experience as a buyer (or as a cheesemonger who works with buyers), drop me a comment.
This is a conversation I’ve wanted to have for a long time. After all, I buy an indecent amount of cheese, and I witness a lot of studious lurkers around the counter. I see them scratch their chins and hear them hem and haw. Buying cheese strikes me as a very different kind of purchasing decision than, say, picking out craft beer — which is cheese’s soul mate.
Lovers of the rind, what should cheesemakers communicate to you as eaters?
Look for more on this topic in coming weeks. Together with my new interns (whee!), we’re delving into something beyond my usual scope of nibbling, tippling, and trekking out to farms. In 2015, we’re looking to explore the connection between curds and communication — not for personal gain but to deepen our own civic commitment to small-batch cheesemakers.
For upcoming appearances at PASA and at the Philly Chef Conference, shimmy over to Events.