A HISTORY OF CHEESE CHALET
The year 2006 was our 30th-anniversary year, and we thought it fitting to give a short history for those who might be interested. While much could be said, we restrict ourselves to those events most directly related:
About 13,800,000,000 B.C. -- A cataclysmic BIG BANG produces all the matter in the known universe. This probably can be considered the single most important event leading to the creation of CHEESE.
About 5,000,000,000 B.C. -- Our solar system is formed from a swirling cloud of gas.
About 3,500,000,000 B.C. -- Life begins on planet Earth. Still a long way to go for cheese, but getting closer.
About 190,000,000 B.C. -- Small mammals appear. The fact that the milk of the larger ones that will come later is essential to production of cheese makes it only infinitesimally probable that any other advanced civilization on another planet in another solar system can enjoy cheese (though it is inconceivable that any civilization could call itself advanced and yet be ignorant of Stilton).
About 65,000,000 B.C. -- Dinosaurs, largest creatures ever to inhabit the land surface, are extinguished, probably because some large object collided with Earth. Continued existence of these behemoths, especially the carnivorous varieties, would have impeded development of cows, goats, sheep, yaks, and other milk-giving mammals, and by extension, the invention of cheese.
About 300,000 B.C. -- The species Homo Sapiens comes into existence. Now we are really getting somewhere, as this clever creature, with its expanded brain capacity, eventually discovers how to make tools and dairy products.
More than 12,000 B.C. -- Humans first travel to North America.
More than 2000 B.C. -- CHEESE is first made, probably initially by accident, through the habit of carrying milk in pouches made from animal stomachs, which contained an enzyme which caused the milk to curdle.
16th Century, A.D. -- Europeans settle in North America, bringing with them the art of making cheese.
Late 1780's -- Mozart composes his greatest masterpieces, including the final symphonies, thereby providing future cheese connoisseurs with delightful music to enjoy while indulging in a fine piece of Gorgonzola or Cheddar.
Mid Twentieth Century -- Edna and Henry Huffman, of Lancaster, PA, are the proud parents of a baby boy, whom they name Henry, Jr.
A few years later -- Janet and Charles Carpenter, of Wilmington, DE, are equally proud to be the parents of their first child, Carol.
Late 1960's -- Henry, attending graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin, pays virtually no attention to the fact that Wisconsin is one of the great cheese-producing states in the nation. This oversight is no doubt due to the fact that at this point he has no inkling of his future involvement with cheese.
Fall, 1972 -- Henry and Carol, by now somewhat matured (sentence structure ambiguous as to whether this adjective refers to both, or to Carol only), first meet at the University of Delaware, where he teaches Spanish.
June 16, 1974 -- They are married in Newark.
January, 1976 -- The cheese shop in the Mini Mall on Main Street in Newark goes out of business. The Huffmans lament this fact and joke about starting up one of their own.
May, 1976 -- Tired of joking, and seeing the likelihood that the 1976-77 academic year will be the final one to provide family income, the Huffmans incorporate and choose the 896 Shops in Newark to locate Cheese Chalet.
August 1, 1976 -- Cheese Chalet opens for business, selling cheeses and other specialty foods. The first customer buys a package of fondue mix.
December 10, 1980 -- Son Brendan is born, weighing a little more than a large wheel of Brie.
March 1, 1984 -- Daughter Annika first sees the light of day. Both she and her brother will be future Cheese Chalet workers.
Early 1988-- The Huffmans feel that they can only reach full Cheese Chalet potential by opening a second store with a kitchen, in order to provide take-out catering and business lunches. They find a location for this in the Shops at Limestone Hills, under construction.
August 1, 1988 -- Twelve years to the day after opening Cheese Chalet, the Huffmans open Cheese Chalet II. Their plan is to maintain two locations, become wealthy, and retire at a fairly early age.
July 15, 1989 -- After nearly a year trying to run two stores in a hands-on, personal way, the Huffmans, exhausted and nearly loony, close the original Cheese Chalet in order to devote themselves to the newer store. The final customer buys one of the now-empty coffee barrels as a souvenir.
Circa 1992 -- Corporate lunch catering begins to take off and becomes the mainstay of the business.
March, 2004 -- A display freezer is acquired in order to provide a steadier supply of some of the more popular entrées and soups.
August 1, 2006 -- Cheese Chalet celebrates 30 years in business.
February, 2007 -- Cheese Chalet joins the 21st Century by inaugurating this website.
May 31, 2008 -- Son Brendan (see entry for December 10, 1980), now weighing closer to a wheel of Swiss Emmenthaler than a wheel of Brie, marries Bridget Schroth of Mullica Hill, New Jersey, in a ceremony taking place in Christ Church, in Philadelphia, with the spirit of Benjamin Franklin in attendance.
September 10, 2009 -- Granddaughter Sadie Pepper Huffman is born in Philadelphia. Fortuitously, she shares a birth date with her grandmother Carol. By the age of 4-3/4 Sadie will be able to read whatever is put in front of her, and by age 7-1/2 she will have read all seven Harry Potter books.
February 13, 2012 -- Grandson Miles Henry Huffman is born, also in Philadelphia. Quite a whiz at video games he will become by age 5.
September 18, 2016 -- Grandson Andrew Martell Huffman appears, also in Philadelphia. His future remarkable traits are still pending.
October 27, 2017 -- Daughter Annika (see March 1, 1984), now of Conshohocken, PA, marries Mark Petroski, also of Conshohocken, in a lovely ceremony at The Farmhouse, just off Kirkwood Highway, not that far from Cheese Chalet. They are already proud parents of two dogs, Teddy and Lilly.
January, 2020 -- Covid 19, otherwise Cornavirus, reaches the United States. This insidious bug, which no one can see, will prove to be the undoing of countless businesses.
March 28, 2020 -- 8 of Cheese Chalet's 9 employees have told the owners that they don't feel that they can continue working safely, and the owners cannot blame them. Operations are halted on this day, with the idea that when things would improve in about three months, there would be a re-opening, maybe on July 7th.
As everyone knows, things only got worse, not better. Trying to keep this a-political, we will only say that a decision was made, on or about July 9th, to give up and close forever, after a pretty good run of 44 years, or 13.800,000,044 years, depending on how you look at it.
To finally change from rather neutral 3rd person to very heartfelt first person, we must say that we terribly miss all our customers, especially the regular ones that we have come to know quite well, and have enjoyed immensely chatting with, lately involving politics (sorry, couldn't help myself), but also a gamut of other topics. In the hopes that we will casually run into you here or there (assuming we can recognize each other beneath the masks), we sign off with best wishes for everyone to thrive and stay safe.
Henry and Carol Huffman, erstwhile of Cheese Chalet