Teddington Cheese inspired by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss
As the Conservative Party’s leadership contest enters its final stage, a cheese shop in Richmond has a selection inspired by the contenders' race to number 10.
John Marks, manager of Teddington Cheese in Richmond Hill, has named a number of his cheeses after Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
And, recently the street has become the "talk of the town" because of Marks’ political cheese blackboard.
With Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak going head-to-head to persuade Conservative Party members to vote for them to become the UK’s next prime minister, Teddington Cheese has used the contest as inspiration for its own advertising.
When asked how the different candidates would be similar cheese-wise, Marks replied: “I mean, they would both be blue of course.”
But as is clear on the blackboard outside, Marks highlighted that they “look different, have got different names, but taste exactly the same.”
Customers can ask for “cheese Sunak” or “cheese Truss” but Marks emphasises that all the blue cheeses he has made for the contest are “simply fictional cheeses” and are designed to attract greater interest in the shop.
Marks says customers enjoy his bringing Westminster to Richmond’s only specialist cheese shop.
He explained: “The shop’s first ever political advertisement stated that Donald Trump was banning sliced cheese because he wanted to Make America Great Again.”
The cheese shop has also previously teased Richmond Park’s former MP and now the government’s Minister of State for the Pacific and International Environment Zac Goldsmith.
In December 2019, in response to Goldsmith losing his seat to Richmond Park’s incumbent MP Sarah Olney, Mark said: “We picked on poor old Zac Goldsmith a bit when he lost, so we offered him a job and put that on the board.
“We wrote that we were looking for a Saturday boy next to his name.”
Mark added: “We’ve done a few advertisements like that and since then they’ve just carried on.
“People do take pictures of them.
“The number of people who stop and take a photo of the sign is phenomenal.
"And then sometimes it encourages them to come into the shop.”
Marks clarified that the political names he attributed to the cheeses were “made-up and don’t actually exist".
“I was told off once for not being even-handed," he said.
"When Jeremy Corbyn was around, I advertised Corbyn’s Red Islington which obviously didn’t exist.”
Promoting cheese through funny and satirical political advertisements is very popular with the shop’s customers, as Marks revealed that he regularly has customers calling on him to “put a funny blackboard out.”
Beyond the entertainment the political signs provide, Marks said the idea “had been good for business”, as those taking pictures regularly pop in to sample the cheese.
Despite Richmond Park constituency’s history of electing MPs from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, Marks said the shop’s greatest political hit with customers was “Corbyn’s Red Islington.”
“Customers kept coming in and asking for this cheese”, Marks added.
The cheese shop has been a hallmark of Richmond Hill for sixteen years, and Marks spoke of how the shop continued to go from strength-to-strength during the pandemic.
Marks said: “We were open throughout lockdown being a food shop and actually, not that you want to make a profit out of a bad situation, but it was very good for us.
“If you remember when the original lockdown took place, it was very difficult to go to the supermarket unless you wanted to buy a whole weekly shop because of the very big queues.
“A lot of customers visited who we had never had before, whereas before they simply went to the supermarket.
“They would often buy odds and sods of cheese just to get them through the day and for their lunch.
“To the best of my knowledge, it is the only specialist cheese shop in Richmond.”
The shop supplies over 130 British and continental farm cheeses, alongside the following: biscuits, chutneys, pickles, wines, ports and ciders.
Teddington Cheese also has another shop in Teddington and customers can order cheese to their door via the shop’s online website.