The Secret Cheese of Stingy St. Louisans

Mannino’s Turkey Sandwich, originally uploaded by nealdstewart.

When I visited St. Louis a couple weeks ago, my good friend, John Darren Allen took me out for a Turkey Sandwich. He chose a little, small-town grocery store in Cottleville called Mannino’s.

Mannino’s is one of those 4 or 5 aisle grocery stores with a butcher shop in back with a hard of hearing old man taking the meat orders. It was a typical Saturday when we went in to order our sandwiches and the place was packed. But big props to Mannino’s: they are a Boar’s Head Deli.

This may look like a simple hoagie-style Turkey Sandwich – but don’t be fooled. It has Provel Cheese on it. “Pro-what?” you might say. It’s Provel Cheese. If you’re from the St. Louis area, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, you probably have no clue. That’s because St. Louisans are stingy people by nature and don’t allow it to be sold outside of the STL metro area.

A little information on Provel: it’s a blend of Provelone, Cheddar and Swiss. It was invented in 1947 and although Wikipedia says that Kraft owns the company that owns the brand, I’ve heard rumors that Imo’s Pizza of St. Louis has their hands in the fact that it is not sold elsewhere. Imo’s uses Provel on their pizza and like I said, those St. Louisans are stingy people.

The sandwich; Wheat hoagie roll, Boar’s Head Maple-glazed Turkey, lettuce, onion, Provel Cheese. Nothing special, but mighty tasty. If you get a chance to smuggle some Provel Cheese out of St. Louis, do it. Just don’t tell anyone you’re doing it. Those St. Louisans will get all weird and shit.


One thought on “The Secret Cheese of Stingy St. Louisans

  1. Provel is indeed a StL secret, but if you ask a local, they don’t know that it is. The reason why it’s a secret is because it’s most commonly used on StL pizza, which is terrible. Provel is processed cheese, akin to a “white velveeta”. If you think about it in those terms, you’d never put it on a pizza.

    Even when you talk to locals about it, they will say, “You don’t like provel? But it gets all shiny, destroys the roof of your mouth, and has a funny aftertaste!” If you try to explain that those are negatives, they are confused.

    I have actually seen provel available in grocery stores here in Omaha.

    Interesting to hear that it might be good on a good sandwich.

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