The Masters has plenty of quirks. From banning electronic devices (which results in long Iines at pay-phones), to ultra cheap eats ($1.50 for a pimento sandwich to be exact), golf’s biggest game is richly embedded in tradition. One such tradition is the offering of pimento cheese sandwiches. Just what is pimento cheese and why try it at the Masters?
If you’re not a Southerner, you may not be familiar with the pimento cheese sandwich. Pimento cheese is typically a spread of blended cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, spices, and yes, pimentos. Never heard of a pimento? These are small, very mild red peppers offering little to no spice - you may recognize them as the little red peppers often found in green olives. Slap the blend on two slices of white bread and you’ve got a pimento cheese sandwich.
Patrons of the Masters get serious about their pimento. In fact, there have been several controversies over the years related to vendor changes and ultimately the club bringing pimento sandwich production in-house.
According to GolfDigest, caterer Nick Rangos of Aiken, South Carolina held the title of pimento provider to the tournament for the first 45 years, until 1998. The club then switched contracts and began sourcing the cheese spread from company Wife Saver. After much trial and error, testing 33 different recipes, Wife Saver was able to recreate the taste of the original sandwich. Finally, in 2013, the golf club took over pimento production internally. Even ESPN noticed stating “it’s different. There’s definitely more spice, and some think there’s more mayo”. Initial receipt of the new recipe among fans was less than stellar.
Given the rich history of this $1.50 sandwich at the Masters, it’s safe to say that it’s OK to attend just for the pimento.