Government Spends Millions Helping Domino's & Taco Bell Serve More Cheese

The NYT has an investigative piece on the $140 million a year organization called “Dairy Management.” It recently teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign, says the Times. Who is this organization? Well, it’s a “marketing creation” of the US Department of Agriculture.

From the NYT (emphasis ours):

Consider the Taco Bell steak quesadilla, with cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella and a creamy sauce. “The item used an average of eight times more cheese than other items on their menu,” the Agriculture Department said in a report, extolling Dairy Management’s work — without mentioning that the quesadilla has more than three-quarters of the daily recommended level of saturated fat and sodium.

The article says that most of the money comes from a fee on dairy industry, and the program’s success is measured by the amount of cheese being consumed.

The article is fascinating, particularly the part about what happens to all the leftover milk fat and whole milk. Most Americans (I am not one of them, I love whole milk.) prefer skim or 2% milk.

“A vast amount of leftover whole milk and extracted milk fat results,” says the Times. The government apparently used to actually store the excess in caves in Missouri. Weird.

You can see the documents here.

While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales [NYT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MitchV says:

    This sounds like a modern day Hansel and Gretel fairytale.

  2. Southern says:

    The NYT has an investigative piece on the $140 million. It recently teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign, says the Times

    Meg, that first paragraph is extremely confusing.

    a) What $140 Million? The way the article refers to it, it presumes that “$140 Million” is referenced somewhere earlier in the headline.

    b) “it recently teamed up with Dominos” – Who did? The New York Times?

    (I realize both of these are answered in the attached article). :-)

    • kagekiri says:

      Yeah, I read that paragraph a few times and it still made no sense. Was “$140 million” a company or project name? Needs more subjects.

    • Southern says:

      Thanks Meg, MUCH more readable.. Sorry to be suck a pick-nitter. :)

  3. Sparty999 says:

    I think it’s great. Great integrated marketing campaign. We all know that some uses for cheese aren’t as healthy as others, but the money is meant to sell cheese, not convince Americans to lose weight!!

  4. sweetgreenthing says:

    They would. Gross. Thankfully, I make my own pizzas at home with the dough recipe, and can regulate my family’s cheese intake.
    The real question is, can I get a tour of this cheese cave?

  5. photoguy622 says:

    Whole milk? Yuck, it’s like drinking cream. I’ll stick with skim, thanks. ;)

    • Dover says:

      Skim? Yuck, it’s like drinking water. I’ll stick with 2%, thanks. ;-)

      • Muddie says:

        2%? Yuck, it’s like watered down cow juice. I’ll stick with almond milk, thanks. ;-)

        • StuffThingsObjects says:

          Almond? Yuck, it’s like watered down nut juice! I’ll stick with my rice milk, thanks.

          • grumblingmumbles says:

            Milk like liquid? Yuck, it’s like watered down cow! I’ll stick with my steak, thanks.

            • Platypi {Redacted} says:

              This is my favorite thread of the day, thanks everyone! My favoritest quote: “Yuck, it’s like watered down nut juice!”

            • photoguy622 says:

              Have you tired sow’s milk? It tastes like bacon! I prefer that one full fat.

      • SimplyStating says:

        Dare I go with the whole “2%? Yuck…..” Nah I will sit on my hands..

      • photoguy622 says:

        Haha, I knew this was coming… I actually grew up drinking 1%, the oddball of milk. Then I tried Skimplus, then skim. I guess I’m just used to it now, doesn’t taste watery anymore, and I get to feel superior for drinking the healthier choice. ;)

        • Kate says:

          When I was a kid, my mother used to make us switch from whole milk in the summer, to skim in the winter and back again.

          Each time, it was water then cream, then water then cream.

          You can get used to anything.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          what is “skimplus” ? is it skimmer than skim or less skim?
          i can’t imagine any milk being less milklike than skim and still being called milk instead of chalky water.

          • photoguy622 says:

            Skim Plus is made by Farmland dairies. It’s Skim but tastes richer than store brand slim. Per Farmland:

            Our Special Request line of products are produced with additional protein and calcium to give fat free and low fat dairy products great creamy taste with less fat. All of our Special Request products are made from 100% real milk sourced from cows that were not treated with rBST hormones or antibiotics. The Plus is in the Taste!


      • nbs2 says:

        Have you tried going to a dairy? We’ve been long time skim drinkers, but when we run out of milk between deliveries, I have to get 1 or 2% – the dairy skim tastes like milk while the megamart skim tastes like stale water.

    • grapedog says:

      Is it odd that I LOVE 1%, but I don’t like 2% at all… i can only use it in cereal.

      Maybe I was a fat baby, I’m not sure, but the doctor told my mother to put me on 1% milk when I was young, so that’s what I still drink today.

      I’m 33, and I still LOVE milk… my last two girlfriends made fun of me for how much I loved/still love milk. They don’t drink it hardly at all… If I got up at like 2am, and wanted milk, and there was none, I’d drive to the grocery store to go get it… because it seems like everywhere but the NorthEast doesn’t sell 1% in the local gas stations anymore, which is annoying, but a digression… i just had to have me some milk sometimes!

    • TasteyCat says:

      I tried drinking skim once. I thought it went bad. Maybe it did. Don’t know.

      I’m a 1%.

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    What an awesome return on investment. They spend 12 million to promote this pizza, and think of the taxes they reap from the sale/production of said pizza, from income tax, to tariffs, to fuel taxes, to sales tax, etc…

    For once the government did something smart and spent a little to help make a lot for everyone, including themselves.

    • huadpe says:

      Wait, tariffs? What is imported that goes into a dominos pizza?

    • gparlett says:

      I tend to agree…. I thought I was going to get pissed about the government spending $140 mil to prop up one industry, but the article shows that the vast majority of that comes from fees paid by dairy farmers.

  7. areaman says:
  8. SkokieGuy says:

    Unless you read the whole NYT article, you might not realize that the same USDA is also spending millions to promote reducing saturated fat in our diets.

    A single serving (and who eats just that) of the new Domino’s cheesier pizzas contains about 2/3rds of the RDA of saturated fat.

    Gee, what else could the USDA do with 12 million bucks, besides helping to promote more profits for private industry. Maybe feed some of the 1 in 4 children that live in poverty?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      But helping people is SOCIALISM! Glenn Beck said so!

    • vastrightwing says:

      You realize, that the government is nothing but a 3rd party between consumers and producers. They add no value to anything: they collect taxes and spend. That is about it.
      People will argue the government builds roads, schools and other necessities, but it’s not true. There are no construction workers who work in government (maybe a hand full). Most of the work is contracted out to private companies.

      The question should be, is the government spending OUR money wisely? In MOST cases, it’s no: there is a lot of fraud, theft and unaccountable spending. I’ll take a wild guess and say that less than 1/2 our tax dollars are spent on projects which benefit our society. The rest is wasted on good intentions gone bad, fraud, waste and theft.

      I say the cheese program is a combination of waste, mis-guided ideas, theft and a dash of good intention.

  9. ludwigk says:

    I knew it! There’s sooo much cheese blowing up in fast foods these days, I thought to myself “there’s got to be an industry surplus of cheese that a number of industries are consolidating efforts to go through.”

    I also thought of cheese as sort of the “new” french fries. It’s this pile of delicious fat that’s super cheap, but adds a lot of value and appeal to foods. Restaurants just pile it on everything, and everyone is happy.

    Damn, *8 times* more cheese? They’re trying to kill me and my poor lactose tolerance…

  10. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Compared to other countries, we already put cheese on nearly every food item. Why do we need more? It’s not like the stuff is healthy.

  11. evnmorlo says:

    Obviously the government should require that excess milk fat be added to gasoline.

  12. quijote says:

    The article is very interesting, especially the part at the end about Dairy Management basically creating junk science to claim that consuming dairy can help you lose weight, while suppressing all the science that contradicts that.

    In the documentary ‘the World According to Monsanto,’ it was revealed that during the 80’s, I think, the FDA was suppressing studies that showed the dangers of Bovine Growth Hormone because of the profits that were involved. Nice to hear things haven’t changed.

  13. lymer says:

    Look, just as long as that cheesy pizza doesn’t come with a happy meal toy, then I can sleep at night.

  14. Murbob says:

    I don’t think I like my tax dollars being spent so the government can promote anything. It is not the governments place to act like a sales department.

    Complete and total waste of my tax dollars.

    • Buckus says:

      So, promoting new home sales with a tax credit, new car sales with an incentive program, giving away $300 to every taxpayer…that doesn’t do any selling? Face it, the government has its hands on almost any item that is for sale.

  15. Buckus says:

    Yay for cheese….

  16. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    It’s a $12 million campaign to promote cheese not, as the article and headlines imply, a $12 million campaign to promote Domino’s. The dairy industry is heavily regulated AND PROTECTED by government with guaranteed prices and sales levels. We are already paying for this excess cheese so we may as well eat it.

  17. banndndc says:

    while i agree with the sentiment that it is absurd that our government is both spending money to encourage us to drink lowfat milk and eat more full fat cheese there is some care mongering going on in this article.

    Of course a quesadilla has more cheese than a taco. Cheese is its main ingredient. The very nature of the dish accounts for the higher amount of cheese. That’s like comparing a grilled cheese to a cheeseburger and being shocked that there is a lot more cheese in one than the other.

    • Bill610 says:

      Fair point, but I’m not sure it can be called scare mongering, since it’s actually the government patting itself on the back for moving all that cheese. At best it’s scare-boldfacing.

  18. StuffThingsObjects says:

    I assume laxatives are a complimentary good?

  19. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    I am not surprised at all. America’s food pyramid was set by a government group. If you look at food subsidies, most go into the bovine industry. That’s why hamburger meat is cheap but veggies aren’t. The whole cheese thing promotes more cow-use.

    • MrEvil says:

      Yet meat is one of the smallest items on the Food pyramid. How does that work?

      And where the fuck are you finding ground beef that’s cheaper than Veggies? Or do you only buy from the farmer’s market or Whole Paycheck foods?

      I go to HEB (Grocery chain in Central Texas) and most fresh fruit and veggies are half the price of a pound of ground beef…even the ultra fatty stuff. The only exception is the stuff that’s out of season or specialty items. I can buy Broccoli, green beans, peppers, onions, Tomatoes, Potatoes all less /lb than Ground Beef.

      • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

        Dairy comes from cows.
        And it is cheaper to eat more hamburger meat than veggies.

        Also, I am familiar with HEB prices and they are pretty amazing. And I will contend that food prices in Texas are MUCH friendlier than the two areas I have lived- Southeast and Upstate NY. I have no idea why.

  20. Siegeman says:

    I’m curious where the “get government out of our lives” commentators are on this article. Typically, I disagree with that stance, but I’m simply flabbergasted that the feds are spending time marketing cheese. Wouldn’t those bureaucrats be better off spending their time trying to figure out how to say, fix the education system or lower obesity rates, rather than how to produce and manage these “marketing creations”? I’m sure the nation’s cheese producers can come up with a way to market themselves, and are probably just as good at coming up with their own bunk science!

    Our government shouldn’t be in the marketing business, especially when what they’re selling directly contradicts the long-term benefit of our people. I say drop the levy on dairy farmers, get rid of Dairy Management and let the Department of Agriculture do what it is should be doing: fighting obesity.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Check out Murbob’s comment above. They’re fracking everywhere.

  21. Absinthe says:

    Praise Cheeses

  22. EverCynicalTHX says:

    Jeez….to hear some people talk – you’d think the USDA was a government funded agency with taxpayers picking up their awesome salary and benefit plans.

    That would be just plain wrong cause they obviously don’t work for us….sigh..

  23. Domino's Pizza says:

    Phil from Domino’s Pizza here. Wanted to clear up one thing: 100% of these dollars come from America’s Dairy Farmers and our partnership with Dairy Management, Inc. — not the U.S. government or taxpayer money. This is U.S. Dairy Farmers using their money and resources to partner with us in promoting cheese…something we have in common through this partnership we are very proud of!

    • tooluser says:

      I loathe Domino’s pizza. But I loathe spokeholes even more.

    • dvdchris says:

      Thanks for trying to make us even fatter. We need to figure out ways to LOWER fat and calories in foods that already have a ridiculous amount, not RAISE them.

      • dgm says:

        The people producing the food aren’t the idiots; It’s the ones eating too much of it.

        Domino’s is obviously filling a market demand, or they would fail.

  24. loquaciousmusic says:

    Meg, I have to agree with you: I read the article on Sunday morning, and I was thinking about caves in Missouri filled with $4 billion worth of cheese all day. Sometimes, our country is really quite fascinating.

  25. tooluser says:

    Anybody who’s surprised by this simply hasn’t been paying attention for the last 224 years.

    There are also US governmental organizations dedicated to *increasing* the number of people on welfare. And there are many, many governmental organizations dedicated to decreasing Liberty — i.e., actively working against the primary cultural value of the USA.

    Government is too big, and is demonstrably unmanageable. Perhaps we could place most of the power and responsibility into the hands of the 50 states? Where have I heard that before?

    • JJ! says:

      That leaves Missouri in complete control of a 4 billion dollar cheese mine. I cannot, in good conscience, get behind giving Missouri that sort of power.

    • vastrightwing says:

      The problem with adding to the welfare roles is it is unsustainable. The reason corporations want more people on welfare, is the same reason we have farm subsidies (See Food Inc.). Farmers can’t make money selling their crops at market rates, so the government subsidizes farmers. Private industry then takes this subsidy by charging the farmers. It would be more efficient if government simply gave the big corporation the money directly, but politicians know people would not stand for this. In other words, it’s easy to support farmers and poor people, not big corporations.

  26. lucky13 says:

    Yummm…40% more cheese…brilliant!

  27. Wirehead says:

    And this is where I realize how glad I am that I live an otherwise healthy lifestyle and can fully enjoy whole milk and pizza with tons of cheese on it.

    Doubly so since I discovered that I need to increase the sodium in my diet.

  28. Emily says:

    Cheese cave? I want to go to there.

  29. Draw2much says:

    Hm, but I LIKE CHEESE. So….. >_>

  30. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    …so diary gurus store the excess in caves in Missouri. They stack this up for decades, then human civilization ends, and humans vanish from the Earth. The caves are discovered millions of years later by the creatures that replace us, and they stumble across an exposed layer of milk fats oozing from the ground. How do their scientists explain that?

  31. LisaLisa says:

    read “the china study”. that’s all i have to say. there’s a whole explanation about the dairy’s control (via grants, contracts, etc) over parts of government agencies

  32. Russ says:

    140 million to do what with? Help Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc. make lousy pizza? Help Taco Bell sell more junk food? One out of seven people in this country live in poverty…how will this help them?

  33. jcargill says:

    The US gov’t gives showers big business with subsidies all the time. This is just a drop in the bucket.