In this photo, TCCA management, cheesemakers, and lab technicians sample the Antarctica cheese in 1958.
Even explorers need some comforts of home when they are on a great expedition. While packing for one of his expeditions to Little America on Antarctica in the 1940s, Admiral Richard Byrd tossed in some cheese, Tillamook Cheese to be exact. The history I found doesn’t tell why the cheese went on the trip. Maybe it was just for noshing, or perhaps it was to be used in a scientific study about how dairy products react in extreme environments. (I made that last part up.) Regardless of the reason, this particular wheel of Tillamook Cheese made quite a trip.
After the expedition, the cheese and other surplus goods were left behind. They were discovered in 1957 during an International Geophysical Year expedition. The Navy shipped all of the goods, including the cheese, to Rhode Island and then, eventually, to Chicago, where it was discovered by Alfred Rishoi, quartermaster, Food & Container Institute for the Armed Forces. It was Rishoi who thought about sending the cheese back to Tillamook.
After nearly 15 years, the chunk of cheddar returned home. According to those who sampled the cheese, it was still edible and not too sharp tasting. The cheese was made in either 1943 or 1944, but the freezing environment of the camp and shipping containers slowed the aging process.