"Think of it as branding," says Mike McNabb. "Or maybe art," chimes in brother Joe. The brothers, one a veteran of the high tech rat race (Mike) and the other a former mortgage broker (Joe) have started a company called Cheese Tattoos, LLC with an idea they admit is a little crazy - but they're confident will take off.
The McNabbs insist that the idea has merit beyond the shock and awe factor. For example, in a world bereft with food frauds, how do you know a cheese really comes from a particular maker? "If the logo is imprinted directly into the rind, that's an assurance of quality," says Mike. "In the old days, cheesemakers would brand their cheeses with the company logo. We're just taking an old idea and running with it in the new millennium." In addition to logos, the brothers envision customized cheeses for parties (add your favorite photo or slogan), for corporate retreats or for weddings. Cheesemakers could even add art to their cheeses. "Cheesemakers already express themselves through the cheeses they make," says Joe. "With this technology, they can take that impulse to the next level by adding their own custom art, maybe photos of their favorite goat or cow. The possibilities are really endless."
Using a proprietary food grade soy ink and an adapted dot matrix printer, the brothers essentially spray the color in micro-bursts onto the cheese. "It's the same technology that bakeries use to do photos in frosting on cakes - completely safe," adds Joe. "And it doesn't harm the cheese in any way." Results have been surprisingly good, and the McNabbs are planning on courting some of the bigger names in the cheese world at the upcoming Fancy Food Show in New York in June.