Cheese is one of the most beloved and consumed foods around the world, and it's no wonder why, considering it's delicious, nutritious, and can be incorporated into almost every meal.
But while it's one of our favourite things, it's also a mysterious little scamp. Here are eight tantalising facts that will get you wanting to tuck in after work.
It's just so... gouda.
1. Mice don't actually like cheese
We don't mean to be dramatic, but forget everything you've ever known.
A 2006 study found mice prefer sweet and sugary foods over the more savoury snack that is cheese, and they’ll even actively shy away from certain types.
"Clearly the supposition of mice liking cheese is a popular premise," said Dr David Holmes, an animal behaviourist from Manchester Metropolitan University.
"They respond to the smell, texture and taste of food and cheese is something that would not be available to them in their natural environment and therefore not something that they would respond to."
2. Cheese doesn't cause nightmares
An old wives' tale claims you shouldn’t eat cheese before bedtime because, apparently, it will give you nightmares.
How wrong they are, as cheese contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which promotes sound sleep, and nightmares tend to occur when your sleep is disturbed.
While you might still have suffered bad dreams after eating cheese, it's probably because of the loads of other food you've eaten along with it. Go figure.
3. There is an Italian bank that takes parmesan cheese as collateral on loans
Known locally as Credem, the regional bank Credito Emiliano, accepts somewhat unusual collateral for small-business loans, ie gigantic wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Its curious methods has been the subject of Harvard Business School's case study, “Credem: Banking on Cheese.” The case goes on to explain how Credem replaces an expensive part of the operations process for dairy farmers in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy.
As well as holding the cheese as insurance, Credem stores, and therefore ages, the wheels in vaults for the duration of the loan. The farmers save on operating costs, and the bank gains some expertise about a risky industry. Win win.
4. Cheese is the number one most shoplifted item in the world
In a survey of the most stolen foods worldwide, cheese comes in at the very top, with an astonishing 4% of the world’s cheese ending up stolen. This is apparently due to its high demand and easy disposability by thieves.
5. Cheese day is alive and well
January 20th is international cheese lover’s day. And the correct term for those of you who consider yourselves ‘cheese lovers’ is ‘turophile’.
Every day's a school day.
6. Cheese is older than the potato
Here's the proof!