WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Hy-Vee  is kicking off the holiday sales season on Friday with a coordinated Parmigiano-Reggiano promotion dubbed “The Crack Heard Round the Midwest.”
At precisely 11:11 a.m. on November 11, 135 Hy-Vee stores in eight states will crack a giant wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The event may not rival the historic Shot Heard Round the World, but according to Hy-Vee officials, it certainly will be history-making.
They pointed out it's the first time, the company has tried to coordinate an event — right down to the minute — among so many stores.
"We figured with all the elevens, nobody could forget, or get mixed up, about what time to do this. It’s 11:11 on 11/11," Ruth Comer, Hy-Vee's assistant vice president, media relations, told SN.
All 200-plus Hy-Vee stores will be featuring the imported Parmigiano-Reggiano at a special price, but only the 135 highest volume stores ordered a whole wheel, Comer explained. But, all Hy-Vee's supermarkets — even though they won't all be cracking a wheel — will be displaying the special cheese and sampling it, most of them in their delis.
The 85-pound wheels, hand-crafted in a particular region of northern Italy, are allowed to age for an average of two years to achieve their characteristic flavor and granular texture. To preserve the internal crystalline structure that gives the cheese its distinctive salty crunch, wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano are "cracked" rather than cut.
The process involves the use of a rectangular spatula to split the wheel along its natural fault lines.
"Everything about this cheese is exceptional – from its history, to the way it's made, to its taste and nutritional value. This is going to be a very special experience for customers who love great cheese,” said Tom Hobt, Hy-Vee’s vice president of perishables, in a statement released to the press.
Comer pointed out that the event is well-timed as people begin thinking about entertaining and gift-giving during the holidays.
Today also is national Veteran's Day, and Hy-Vee stores are commemorating it by offering breakfast free to veterans .