Oddly Enough

Big cheese carving celebrates U.S. Independence Day

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A sculpture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence made from a one-tonne block of cheddar cheese glistened on the sidewalk of Times Square in New York on Thursday as an artist’s tribute to the Fourth of July.

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“It’s very patriotic, using the signing of the Declaration of Independence, bringing Americans together for the Fourth,” said Troy Landwehr, who carved the sculpture for cracker company Cheez-It to celebrate U.S. Independence Day.

He worked eight hours a day for a week in a 40-degree cooler carving the block of Wisconsin cheddar.

“The cheddar has been pasteurized and will not melt,” Landwehr said. “What I spray on it is cooking oil and that stops it from drying out and cracking,” he said. “That’s why it looks sweaty. It actually preserves the cheese.”

The replica of an iconic painting by John Trumbull shows John Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin and others standing around a table signing the historic document.

The work is not the first time Landwehr has recreated U.S. history with cheese. Last year he carved a cheese version of Mount Rushmore, which depicts U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln.

This year he took on another version of America’s first “big cheeses” -- Trumbull’s oil painting, which hangs in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol and shows 42 of the 56 signatories of the 1776 Declaration of Independence from Britain.

“I scanned the painting into the computer, drew a 3D mapping of it and basically did lines and grids,” said Landwehr, who has been carving cheese since he was 12 and owns a winery in Wisconsin.

“The hardest part was trying to keep everybody in proportion,” he said.

He said putting the cheese on display in New York and Philadelphia would help it age faster and then it would be taken back to Wisconsin to be donated to food pantries.

Reporting by Claudia Parsons; Editing by Bill Trott