Wedginald is a round of cheddar cheese made famous in 2007 when its producers broadcast its maturation process on the internet on the cheddarvision.tv website. The 20 kg cheese, from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England was produced by Westcountry Farmhouse Cheesemakers. In the nine months it took for the cheese to mature, more than 1.5 million people logged on to watch it. The website, initially only an internet phenomenon of limited scope, received attention from major media outlets such as the BBC, The Independent and newspapers as far away as Norway. Similarly, Wedginald drew attention in both the American media, with regular updates on The Tony Kornheiser Radio Show in the spring of 2007, and in discussions during Middlesex and Surrey County cricket broadcasts on BBC London radio and internet broadcasts. A time-lapse video on YouTube has attracted several hundred thousand page views. The live feed can be installed as an application on Facebook, and the cheese has over 1,300 friends on MySpace.
On 19 September 2007 a pivotal stage in the cheese’s development was reached, when Tom Calver, its creator, took a nine-month sample to determine the quality at that point. Experts say that this is a vital phase in the maturation process, and determines whether the cheese will be fit for consumption or not. According to Calver, the cheese at this point had "a caramel nose, a sweet twiggy greenness and a creamy good length of flavour...lemony, with a certain 'spritziness'".
Calver claims the company never expected this level of attention about the project. However, they did have a serious intent with this seemingly frivolous gimmick: to educate the population on the art of cheese making. In an age where consumers are getting more and more detached from the products they are consuming, the intention was to show just how much work and effort goes into the production of gourmet food.
The name "Wedginald" was arrived at after a naming contest on the site, and is intended as a humorous portmanteau of "wedge" (as in a wedge of cheese) and the given name Reginald. The cheese sold at auction on eBay, ending on 19 November 2007, at the sale price of £1,145 with the proceeds going to the BBC charity Children in Need. With a total of 36 bids, nearly 200 people watched Wedginald as the auction closed. The winner is a former Somerset resident from Chew Magna, who emigrated to New Zealand as an architect and subsequently became involved in the wine industry.
Wedginald remained online for viewing on the official website until 19 December 2007. After landing in New Zealand on Saturday 22 December 2007, a competition was launched to find where Wedginald is taking his holiday on www.whereswedginald.tv. The link is now non-operational.
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