“Oh wow, I’m sure that is very delicious. *continues eating a string cheese*”
~AFFotD Editor-in-Chief Johnny Roosevelt
Money is a weird thing. People slave for it, they kill for it, they fight wars for it, but as soon as you get it you turn around and you’re that asshole who’s spending $12,000 to have a chef make a pizza topped with caviar and lobster in your house. That dichotomy might be why we here at AFFotD are so perversely fascinated at the kinds of people who spend ungodly sums of money for particular items. Sure, we’ve covered expensive yachts, which are inherently a waste of money, but it’s also incredible how much people have wasted on vodka, hamburgers, hell, even beer.
Normally (with the exception of our beer article) these products are expensive for pointless “look how big my dick is” reasons. Anything can be expensive if you fill it with diamonds or cover it in shaved gold, that’s just pretentious and obnoxious. However, sometimes, people spend more money than they should on items because they actually believe it to be top quality. We’ve seen this, for example, in our discussion of expensive whiskeys—while there are some bottle gimmicks at play, these six figure bottles of alcohol at least represent some of the best whiskey in the world.
With that in mind, we’ve put our focus towards a food that we love but that can also manage to be expensive for a variety of fairly unpretentious reasons—cheese. Cheese is wonderful in general, but there are huge swings in qualities between varieties. You can have cheap American cheese for a few nickels per slice, or you can fancy decadent cheeses that’ll set you back twenty dollars for a small wedge, and you’ll be fully aware of the difference. A lot of cheese comes down to preference, but there isn’t a lot of pretension here. So that’s why we decided to look into the most expensive cheeses in the world, to look at something that’s expensive due to its quality and scarcity, and not because some asshole decided to toss gold and truffles in there.
Okay, well, two assholes on the list did that, but the rest are legit.
The Six Most Expensive Cheeses in the World
As with most of our “most expensive” articles, we find ourselves needing to establish an arbitrary price to aim for so we don’t include the numerous “very expensive but not quite expensive enough” options out there. Yes, $45 a pound is a lot to spend on cheese, no, it’s not that rare, and hell no, we’re not going to research on every one that meets that criteria. That’s why we set our lower limit, much like we did in our hot dogs article, at an even hundred bucks. Because when you’re spending $100 for a single pound of cheese, you’re going to have a real hard time justifying it no matter how good that cheese might be.
Now before we get this underway, and we’re normally not this blunt, but we’re going to at least admit the possibility of some of these figures being not entirely right. The problem with any list about expensive items is that no one really double checks prices, which is why you have sites like therichest.com telling you that Caciocavallo Podolico is a decadent Italian cheese that costs $650 per pound, while Amazon.com offers that very same world famous cheese for $189 (which, shit, is still a lot to spend on cheese) for 4.15 pounds of it, which comes out to the very-expensive-but-not-expensive-enough-to-make-this-list amount of $45 per pound. But everyone tries to trot out that figure, and that’s just blatantly wrong. So sometimes, with the hive mind of the internet the way it is, some similarly misrepresented cheese prices might slip their way past our research staff.
Or other times, the prices will be different from other sites because we’re using the 2015 conversion rate for a bunch of cheeses whose prices were listed as British Squiggly Money Signs or Euros per Kilogram, and we had to do the math ourselves (read as: punch stuff into google and then into a calculator). But enough with the disclaimers, let’s get into some cheeses.
16-Year-Old Bitto Storico: ~$125 Per Pound
Bitto is an Italian cheese made from whole cow’s milk with some goat’s milk added to allow for aging. It’s produced near the Valtellina valley during the summer months, when the cows eat high alpine meadows which imparts a specific flavor. Typically, there isn’t a set price—the cheeses aged after 10 years are the most valuable, but the cheese itself is very volatile—due to various factors, each wheel’s aging must be determined by the dairyman.
As a result, back in 2012, a wheel of Bitto Storico was sold in Hong Kong to a food import that aimed to distribute the cheese through Chinese retailers which, according to this poorly Google-translated news article, was being hawked for about 245 Euro per kilogram, which in real life money is about $125 a pound. That’s a lot for cheese! This particular wheel was produced in 1997, having been aged for 15 years, which means we probably aren’t likely to see this another Bitto wheel cost nearly that much again. Which is fine—China can take their fancy Italian cheeses, we’ll be in the office’s kitchen putting cheap Kraft shredded cheddar on top of a tortilla and microwaving it for a sad lunch.
Wyke Farms Vintage Cheddar (Truffle and Gold Leaf Laced): ~$170 Per Pound
Okay, the only place we’ve found that can confirm this price is the Daily Mail, so if there were one item on this list most likely to be bullshit, it’s this one. But still, $170 a pound for some truffle and gold leaf infused cheddar is not outside the realm of possibility, which is depressing in a kind of way we’d rather not focus on. This cheese was produced limitedly, which is a polite way of saying “bullshit publicity stunt” and was featured on the “world’s most expensive cheese board” that cost about $3,000 for someone looking to host the douchiest soiree in the history of douchey soirees.
Wyke Farm itself is one of the bestselling Cheddar farms operating in England, and has been making Cheddar since 1861, but their cheese is much more moderately priced than you’d think from this entry. Normally they don’t go particular fancy, they make 15 month aged cheddar that sells for about $18 a pound, and they’re long since out of this particular variety. We don’t have much to add about this cheese because it’s honestly not that interesting—there’s no story behind it outside of a company trying to get their name out there by putting a bunch of expensive things in a perfectly decent cheese. That’s why we’d rather just move on to…
Hook’s Cheese Company 20-Year-Old Wisconsin Cheddar: $209 Per Pound
We’re glad to finally get America on this list, though a bit saddened that this is the only expensive cheese that was created within the good old U S of A. Naturally, it’s from Wisconsin. Hook’s Cheese this year decided to release a Cheddar that had been aged for 20 years. The asking price? $209 a pound. While you might look at that price and say, “Yeah, that sounds reasonab…oh hahahah I can’t even say it, I’m sorry, I’m sure it’s good but it’s two hundred bucks for fucking cheese” you’d be either bemused or terrified to know that all of the 450-pound supply has sold out. In fact, by the time they released the cheese to market, only twenty pounds even remained.
We’re not sure if this is a testament to the quality of the cheese, a nod towards the level of commitment it takes to tend for a cheese for twenty years, or if Wisconsinites just like cheese that much, but either way we’re guessing no one’s going to be putting this on a Triscuit and popping it in their toaster oven any time soon.
White Stilton Gold: ~$420 Per Pound
Stilton cheese is an English cow cheese that can only be produced in the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire counties of the nation. There’s White Stilton, which, uh, exists, but no one really eats much of (it’s pretty flavor-neutral, so it’s generally mixed with fruits to make dessert cheeses) and Blue Stilton, which is relatively famous for people who pay attention to cheeses of the world. It’s, well, it’s a blue cheese, you know what to expect—people put mold inside cheese to make it very strong and smelly and about 70% of people were totally on board with it, while the rest of us kind of take a step back and say, “No, we’re good, we’ll just have this brie instead, because we live in a civilized society.”
Blue Stilton has been around since the early 18th century, and gets its distinctive blue veins by piercing the crust of the cheese with stainless steel needles, which allows air as well as the Penicillium roqueforti fungus to get deep into the cheese.
That’s all well and good, but what happens when we take the White Stilton, you know, the one you rarely encounter, and just, smother it with gold flakes? It was being sold in 2011 for about sixty English squiggles for a small slice, or about six pounds for enough to top a cracker, and really, this is just a whole mess of pointlessness. Our editor-in-chief doesn’t like blue cheese and even he thinks it’s stupid to use the white, bland, neutrally flavored white version of Stilton to fill up with odorless, tasteless gold. At least Blue Stilton tastes like something, and the blue and gold could have played off together well, probably.
Notice, this is the second time England’s been on the list, and it’s the second time it’s been for a bullshit cheese. You should be ashamed, England. And you call yourselves a cheese nation.
Moose Cheese: $455 Per Pound
Yes, you can get cheese that was made from a moose’s tit, and yes it’s extremely expensive. Moose cheese is exactly what it sounds like—cheese made out of moose milk, only made in Sweden at the Elk House farm in Bjurholm by Christer and Ulla Johansson. Since we’re dealing with just one farm, and there aren’t that many domesticated moose out there, a large reason behind this hefty price tag is that only 600 pounds of it are made all year. Granted, if they sell all their cheese, that means they’re still walking away with a cool three hundred grand, but still, scarcity counts for something. We’re not sure if it’s good, but we know we’d try it.
Moose cheese comes in three styles—a rind-style, a blue cheese, and a feta-like cheese, which gives you plenty of options for your weird animal cheese that’s not even the weirdest animal cheese on this list, considering people pay over $500 a pound for…
Pule: ~$500 Per Pound
When you summarize Pule in one sentence, it sounds like something you’d spend next to nothing for—for such an expensive item, it basically sounds like poor person food. Pule is Serbian cheese made out of donkey milk. This sounds like some refugee camp “making the most with what you have” shit right there, but no, it’s apparently a delicacy, because if you’re going to charge almost half a grand for a pound of something you better describe it in some way to make it seem like not a complete waste of money.
Like moose cheese, pule gets much of its price tag from its scarcity—only one farm makes it, and they only have 140 donkeys which they milk, all of whom must be hand-milked three times a day. A liter of donkey milk from this farm costs $45, and it takes twenty five liters of milk to make one kilogram of the cheese. The cheese is also smoked, because flavor is important even when you’re selling Serbian donkey cheese for a king’s ransom.
Now, there are other aspects to the cheese that people focus on—donkey milk apparently is similar to human milk (which is kind of unsettling honestly) and as such has low fat as well as some anti-allergen properties, but by far our favorite story about this cheese comes from the fact that in 2013 the entire year’s supply was bought up by tennis star Novak Djokovic because he was starting up a series of Serbian restaurants and, we guess, wanted to have something authentic on the menu a bit more appetizing than long blank stares and the sound of distant gunfire.
The important thing to take away from this is that the most expensive cheese in the entire world…is made from Serbian donkeys, and it was so good a tennis superstar wanted it all for himself. If there’s not some sort of Ugly Duckling “you can do anything if you believe” moral to that, then you probably won’t like the children’s book we’re writing, “Novak and his little suckling donkey.” What? The title needs work? God, you sound just like our agent.