Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Stilton wars

"A row over the ownership of the name of Stilton cheese could end in court," reports BBC News.
As the website goes on to explain, Stilton is made in a handful of dairies in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. And since 1996 the cheese has enjoyed Protected Designation of Origin from the European Union,  so it cannot be made anywhere else.

Which is odd, because the village of Stilton is in none of those counties. It was originally in Huntingdonshire and is now in Cambridgeshire as the smaller county has been abolished.

The conventional wisdom is that the cheese became famous and gained its name in the 18th century because it was sold at the inn in Stilton, which was on the Great North Road (now the A1).

But, says the BBC report, campaigners in Stilton say there is a long history of cheese making in the village, so they should be entitled to use the name too.

You can find more about this on page 8 of the October 2009 Stilton Community Association Newsletter.

It is interesting that they have turned up a reference to the 'famous' Stilton cheese being made in the village. But in those days cheese was being made in every village in England. Whether what was produced in Stilton in the 18th century had much to do with what we know as Stilton today must be doubtful.

And if Stilton did used to come from Stilton, how did the name come to be attached to cheese made 30 miles away?

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