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Cougar Gold Turned Senator John Fetterman Into a ‘Canned Cheese’ Convert

“Viva cheese in a can!” the Pennsylvania senator told Eater Seattle

Senator John Fetterman gives a thumb’s up while seated at a table that has crackers, Cougar Gold canned cheese, and a beer on it.
Cougar Gold (front) and John Fetterman
John Fetterman
Harry Cheadle is the editor of Eater Seattle.

John Fetterman is many things: progressive hero, freshman U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, stroke survivor, a person with depression, all-time hoodie guy — and now he’s a Cougar Gold fan.

Last week, the senator’s official Twitter account posted a photo of the goateed politico giving a thumb’s up while seated in front of a spread that included Wheat Thins, a can of Miller Lite (the less politically charged alternative to Bud Light), and, most importantly, a can of Cougar Gold.

You know about Cougar Gold if you live in Washington State and particularly if you went to Washington State University, where the famed canned cheddar originates. It’s been produced at WSU since the 1940s, when U.S. government-funded research into ways to better store cheese resulted in scientists inventing a bacteria that would keep cheese stable in a can — and as a side benefit, the resulting cheese was rich, nutty, silky, and delicious. (It’s named after professor N.S. Golding, the lead researcher on the project.)

Outside of the Evergreen State’s environs Cougar Gold doesn’t get much love, and the phrase “cheese in a can” may have some stigma attached to it. But Senator Patty Murray, a WSU alum, is apparently something of a Coug evangelist. Her office is next door to Fetterman’s, and in a show of collegiality, she and her staff offered her fellow Democratic senator some snacks. “I wanted to welcome them with some goodies from Washington State,” she told Eater Seattle through a spokesperson, “and as a proud WSU grad, I know that Cougar Gold is some of the best Washington has to offer!”

Fetterman and his team were “skeptical” of the cheese at first, the Pennsylvania senator told Eater Seattle in a statement — East Coast bias? — but were won over, as most people are.

“I was expecting it to be soft spreadable cheese, but this was much better than that. My team and I crushed the whole tin of Cougar Gold in one sitting yesterday and everyone agreed that it was killer,” Fetterman said. “Viva cheese in a can!”

In addition to the cheese, Murray gave Fetterman Cosmic Crisp apples, Seattle Chocolates, and Rachel’s Ginger Beer.