The Secret To The $1.50 Masters Pimiento Cheese Sandwich

Augusta primes for world-class golf every year, and there is a culinary draw that defines the experience for many. When you think of pimiento cheese, surely you're thinking of golf, too?

The Masters Pimento Cheese
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Augusta's Culinary Draw

As any golf fan can tell you, April 7, 2022 marks the start of the 86th Masters Tournament. Thousands of lucky ticket holders make their pilgrimage every spring to the effusively floral fairways to get a glimpse of golf's greatest players. Nearly as famous as the course itself is Augusta National's concession stand, where the low prices make for the best culinary bargain in sports. The beloved pimiento cheese sandwich is still only $1.50. Few will ever play well enough to put on the green blazer given to Masters champions, but anyone can shell out a buck fifty and peel back the green wrapper on one of those sandwiches.

A couple of years ago, a change in vendors resulted in a change in the pimiento cheese. You'd have thought they'd mowed down every azalea along the course. Masters faithful don't like it when you mess it with their pimiento cheese.

A Southern Tradition

The two ingredients of cream cheese were brought together in 1908 in a Good Housekeeping recipe for cream cheese, mustard, chives, and minced pimientos. The combination of cream cheese and pimento was such a hit it started to be mass-produced, primarily in the South. Georgia farmers tried to grow red peppers domestically, roasting them, canning them, and sending out as many as 10 million cans of pimentos a year, spreading the gospel of pimento cheese around the country.

And what about the spelling? The editors at Southern Living have chosen "pimiento" as the official spelling, but truly "pimento" is interchangeable. We're sticking with our choice, but acknowledge that the concessionaires at August don't agree (see above image). Essentially what matters is the taste and the carrying on of tradition, and this cheese spread is undeniably beloved.

What Is The Secret?

So what's in the signature recipe? That's between the pimiento cheese and its maker, and they're not saying. Allegedly authentic recipes have been published in various publications, including Par 3 Tea-Time at the Masters by the Junior League of Augusta. Some people say it is a hole in one (shall we say), while others cast doubts and aspersions. Some recreations seem plausible, while some are ludicrous. Who in the world could ever think that pimiento cheese should contain chopped boiled eggs?

A Sandwich Made For Augusta

Perhaps the issue isn't so much what's on the sandwich as where it's eaten. Just as seafood never tastes as it does at the waters' edge and French food is best when eaten within sight of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps the secret ingredient in the Masters Pimiento cheese is the Masters itself. Any sandwich eaten beyond the perimeter of Augusta National will simply never measure up.

This suggests that those in attendance should fish six quarters from their pockets and bask in a full-fledged moment of Masters tradition. The rest of us will watch from our sofas and eat our own favorite pimiento cheese. It's par for our course.

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