Courtesy of M.Besnier

A private collection of labels are being featured in an exhibit at French Cheese Board.

Elisabeth Sherman
September 06, 2017

Good cheese is a work of culinary art—sharp or gooey, with a funky aftertaste or a creamier feel, it’s one of the most beloved foods on the planet for a reason. While you’ve probably spent a lot of time examining the look of your favorite cheese from its texture to its rind, you may have never considered that its packaging can be just as aesthetically pleasing as what comes inside. Combination art gallery and gourmet cheese shop French Cheese Board 41 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 hopes to help people appreciate French cheese’s wrappings with a new exhibit called “Etiquettes.”

Courtesy of M.Besnier

Courtesy of M.Besnier

The exhibit is all about tyrosemiophilia—the hobby of collecting vintage cheese labels—otherwise known as etiquettes in French. According to the French Cheese Board, the largest collection in the world contains around 227,703 of these labels, many of which were designed in the 19th century as some of the first full-color labels that were meant to be discarded immediately after opening the cheese. The labels on display all come from the private collection of the Besnier family, the owners of the largest cheese production company in the world, Lactalis.

Courtesy of M.Besnier

Courtesy of M.Besnier

The labels, which are hanging at the cheese shop in poster size, are a colorful ode to the cheese producers, who started creating them as their products began to be sold in stores. They come in a rainbow of vibrant colors, from bright blues, reds, and yellows, to soft pink, magenta, and even lime green. Many of them are printed with idyllic farm scenes, milkmaids, farmers, cows, and even a bishop on one and a Viking on another.

Courtesy of M.Besnier

The French Cheese Board will host two opening parties for the exhibit, on September 8 and 9, which will, of course, include cheese tastings, at their location on Spring Street in New York City. The labels will be on display for the next six months.