Reality Meets Fantasy On 'Big Block Of Cheese Day'

As a follow-up to the State of the Union address, the Obama administration is making the dreams of West Wing fans everywhere come true — by holding a real-world "Big Block of Cheese Day." White House staffers are making themselves available on social media Wednesday.

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Here's another instance where life imitates art. The old TV drama "The West Wing" presented a fantasy version of the White House and it included an episode where the administration put on an event that staffers could not quite believe.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Because it's Big Block of Cheese Day, John.

MONTAGNE: That was the TV show, but now he staff of the real White House is holding a real-world Big Block of Cheese Day.


Which raises a vital question: Just what is Big Block of Cheese Day? Well, let's have fictional White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry played by the late John Spencer explain the history.


JOHN SPENCER: (As Leo McGarry) Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of his White House, had a big block of cheese. I am making a mental list of those who are snickering. And even as I speak, I am preparing appropriate retribution. The block of cheese was huge, over two tons. And it was there for any and all who might be hungry.

MONTAGNE: Those hungry citizens were allowed to mingle with White House staff and have their voices heard directly, a sort of open house, just a cheesy one. That was a hard sell for Leo, the TV character.


SPENCER: (As Leo McGarry) I assure you that listening to the voices of passion in Americans is beneath no one and surely not the people's servants.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sorry we're late. Is it total crackpot day again?

INSKEEP: Now, in the show they all come around and eventually bring out the big cheese, and this year too "West Wing" cast members are even helping the White House promote their Big Block of Cheese Day, which is a virtual event. Staffers are making themselves available on social media. So just keep track. Andrew Jackson, big cheese, that's true.

"The West Wing," that's fiction. The current Big Block of Cheese Day, that is real, but virtual, on social media. This is NPR News.

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