A Brief Word About Swiss Army Cheese

An army marches on its stomach, Napoleon Boneparte once said, although he said it in French. The Swiss have taken this sentiment very much to heart, to such an extent that every member of the Swiss army is provided with a wedge of cheese as part of their basic kit.   It is their responsibility to keep their cheese clean and properly maintained at all times, and woe betide any soldier who allows their cheese to become scuffed or sweaty.

Originally Gruyere was the Swiss army's cheese of choice, chosen for its high calcium and vitamin content, as well as its ability to withstand extremes of temperature.  However, Gruyere has always been prone to explode at high altitude, and the unacceptable numbers of troops returning from Alpine training missions with cheese wounds prompted the Swiss military to seek an alternative.

And so, in 1921, Swiss dairy technicians set about creating the ultimate combat cheese.  What they ultimately came up with was Appenzeller - a more stable, high tensile cheese which had the added advantage that it could be sharpened to a point and used with deadly effect in hand-to-hand skirmishes.  It quickly became a favourite with Swiss infantrymen, who found that they were able to hollow out compartments in the cheese in order to conceal useful tools such as knives, scissors, files, corkscrews, screwdrivers, nail clippers, magnifying glasses, compasses and things for getting stones out of horses' hooves...

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