It’s not every Friday night that you eat the record-breaking grilled cheese sandwich.
But on Friday at precisely 9:50 p.m., one day before the wrap-up of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, Gina Consumano of Rockville ordered and ate the 10,000th grilled cheese sandwich made at The Big Cheese. That sandwich put the fair past the 10,000 sandwich goal set by The Big Cheese’s operator Ed Hogan. In all, 11,772 gooey, toasted sandwiches were sold this year.
For Consumano, 25, the $3.50 sandwich lived up to its hype.
“Grilled cheese is just the all-American food. I wouldn’t say I am a connoisseur but when I ate it I thought it was good,” she said, adding that this was her first trip to the Montgomery fair. “It made for an interesting Friday night.”
She and her friend Ryan Hickox of Arlington, Va. hadn’t planned on grilled cheese Friday night but headed to the Big Cheese after hearing about the impending goal-breaking grill.
“We were finishing our evening and heard the announcement about them having the grilled cheese record, we decided we really wanted some knowing it was going to be soon,” she said.
Moments later she was getting her picture taken with the sandwich and winning a T-shirt for her lucky spot in line.
The five customers behind her in line also got a consolation prize— either a free funnel cake or ice cream from Timmon’s Concessions.
Hogan said he had a good feeling about his chances of meeting his goal this year and the weather helped him do that.
“Without the weather we might not have made it. I thought the record would fall on Saturday but the crowd on Friday was hungry and eager,” he said. This year’s fair crowd of 220,000 bested last year’s crowed by 10 percent, according to Marty Svrcek, executive director for the fair.
In fact, The Big Cheese ran out of the Wisconsin sharp cheddar that makes their sandwich so good. Hogan said the fair used up all six of the 500-pound wheels. Customers for the final fair day could order some of the other cheese concoctions offered like the Maryland white cheddar from Chappel’s Creamery in Easton or goat cheese.
“We will probably increase the amount of the sharp cheddar by 50 percent next year,” Hogan said. Next year The Big Cheese stand will turn 61.
While Hogan isn’t sure about a goal for next year’s stand, he said it may have more to do with a pretzel and nacho cheese combo than the traditional grilled cheese sandwich.
In the meantime, Hogan said he’ll continue to eat a grilled cheese sandwich once a week, as he prepares for next year’s fair challenge.