The Legend Behind the Best Cheese Pimento Sandwich
There are few foods as Southern as pimento cheese. It can be found right next to the fried chicken and sweet tea on brunch tables and
While the spread is a fairly simple mixture of cheese, mayonnaise and pimentos (a variety of sweet red pepper), Augusta National Golf Club’s famed pimento cheese is shrouded in mystery since the recipe has been a closely guarded secret for years.
For over 40 years, Nick Rangos, a local caterer from Aiken, South Carolina, was the man responsible for making the pimento cheese that the patrons at the Masters devoured year after year. But after the tournament switched contracts in 1998, a local Augusta chain restaurant called Wife Saver took over the pimento cheese making.
Godfrey eventually cracked the formula after tasting a batch that a tournament employee had frozen from the previous year. (He also contacted
Pimento sandwiches for sale at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Over the next 15 years, Godfrey’s pimento cheese continued to be a crowd
And just like Rangos—who took the original recipe to the grave when he died in 2015—Godfrey refused to give up his methods. "I cannot tell you what the secret is," Godfrey told ESPN. "But there's a secret there."
This time around, people noticed the difference. The new sandwich just wasn't as good.
Wright Thompson of ESPN investigated “PimentoGate”—as he called it—and found that the new recipe was made with more spice and mayo, ruining the classic that people enjoyed everywhere from the concession
“The consistency has changed, sometimes leaving soggy bread gummed up around a big blob of the spread,” he wrote. “From the outside, it seems like a combination of legal liability issues and stubborn pride has left the Masters concessions staff trying—and failing, in a rare moment of fallibility—to re-create the same recipe that generations of golf fans have enjoyed.”
However, it seems like Augusta National Golf Club has finally found a combination of ingredients that
So what’s the secret ingredient? While people over the years have tried to crack the recipe—Southern Living says that the Junior League of Augusta’s recipe in Par 3 Tea-Time at the Masters is about as close as you can get to the original recipe—here’s what’s actually in the legendary sandwich.
According to the wrapper, the sandwich is made with extra sharp cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, mayonnaise, cream cheese, pimentos, onions, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (plus a scant amount of potassium sorbate as a preservative).
While I wouldn't dare argue that the Masters’ pimento cheese is better than your grandmother’s recipe, I can say that this was best pimento cheese I’ve ever tasted and it has a lot to do with where I ate it because there's nothing better than tearing open that green plastic wrapper and biting into soft white bread stuffed full of cheese and peppers while looking out over the immaculate greens and pine trees at Amen Corner on the back nine of Augusta National Golf Club.