Parmigiano Reggiano® dates back more than nine centuries and is anything but an ordinary cheese. It shows in its packaging, its taste and its history.
During the 13th century, Benedictine and Cistercian monks built irrigation systems that transformed the pastures of Parma and Reggio Emilia into ideal grazing fields for the dairy cows. The dairy cows loved it and soon, so did the people throughout northern Italy, who savored the cheese made from their rich milk.
Just like wine and people, Parmigiano Reggiano gets better with age. In the centuries before refrigeration, this hard cheese was ideal for storage and transporting over long distances. Parmigiano Reggiano was a favorite on sea voyages, but also beloved by connoisseurs — and presidents. By the 18th century, it found its way on Thomas Jefferson’s table.
In 1954, producers of the area of origin (Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and part of Mantua and Bologna) formed the “Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano” to control the production zone and establish high standards for making the cheese. Then in 1996, Parmigiano Reggiano became one of the first Italian products to earn certification as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product, guaranteeing that the cheese would be made by traditional methods in strictly defined geographical areas.
In 1996, thanks to two Italian astronauts, Parmigiano Reggiano became the first all-natural raw milk cheese to be launched into outer space. Later Parmigiano Reggiano was adopted as an official space food, valued for the bone-strengthening calcium and other nutrients it contributes to astronauts’ diets.
This nutrient-rich delicious cheese continues to gain popularity around the globe while continuing to uphold it's traditional production process and high standards.
In 2008, European courts decreed that Parmigiano Reggiano is the only hard cheese that can legally be called Parmesan. In plain English — they acknowledged that the word “Parmigiano Reggiano “can be traced back to Parma and associated with its area of origin in the region of Italy.
A cheese by any other name just isn’t Parmigiano Reggiano. In fact, in Europe a cheese cannot be called Parmesan unless it conforms to the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) standards for Parmigiano Reggiano. Cheese produced according to the rules contained in the Production Regulation is the only cheese entitled to bear the Parmigiano Reggiano mark.
Others may try, but none will come close — Parmigiano Reggiano is a one and only. Members of the Consorzio ensure it. The Consorzio follows strict production standards and work together to market the cheese and protect Parmigiano Reggiano from imitators. They encourage retailers and consumers to understand the history of Parmesan and to use its correct name —Parmigiano Reggiano.