The “pimento cheese with soul” has lowcountry roots but is loved by customers across the country.
There are few occasions where Southerners would not include pimento cheese on the menu. The delicious cheddar cheese and pimento pepper spread is as appropriate and welcome at a picnic on the beach as at a white tablecloth restaurant or the South’s most famous golf tournament. And like gumbo, collard greens, and pecan pie, this Southern food star is always best homemade. But if you aren’t up for making the versatile spread yourself, or need it on the go, the next best thing is Palmetto Cheese, the pimento cheese company with roots in South Carolina’s lowcountry.
Palmetto Cheese has dubbed themselves “the pimento cheese with soul,” and we couldn’t agree more. The recipe is as close to homemade as you can get—and easy to buy since it’s sold at over 9,000 grocery stores in 40 states across the country.
Like many famous food brands, Palmetto Cheese had humble beginnings. Cofounder Sassy Henry perfected her pimento cheese recipe while living in Atlanta, serving the spread to friends at Braves baseball game tailgates in the mid-1990s. In 2002, she and her husband Henry moved to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to take over control of the historic Sea View Inn.
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They started serving Sassy’s pimento cheese recipe to guests at the inn, and eventually stocked containers of it at a local seafood store to see how it would sell. Thanks to that famous Southern word of mouth, the local seafood shop grew into local Food Lion and Piggly Wiggly locations, and eventually to Publix locations in Greenville, Atlanta, and Charleston. The rest, as they say, is history. Now, the delicious spread is made in three varieties: original, with jalapenos, and with bacon.
Palmetto Cheese stands out with its colorful packaging and relatively simple label. On the top of every Palmetto Cheese package is a sticker with a woman’s photo printed below the logo and product information. The woman is Vertrella Brown, a family friend of the Henrys and the cook at the Sea View Inn who first started mass-producing Sassy’s recipe for guests. While Vertrella isn’t the one making each batch of the pimento cheese now, the label gives the product a familiar feeling, that when you’re buying the product you know it was made with love.