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I got a cheese sculpture of my dog—and it was as weird as I'd hoped

Whisps' 3D holiday portraits cost a lot of cheddar. Should you fork it over?

A collage of a Chihuahua and its cheese carving iteration by snack company Whisps. Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby / Kevin Cortez

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Lots of people who love their pets want to memorialize Spot and Fluffy in ways that are long-lasting and timeless, like an oil painting or professional photograph. I, on the other hand, decided to celebrate this holiday season by capturing my pup in a more ephemeral and delicious medium. That’s how I found myself this week taking delivery of three pounds of packaged cheddar cheese carved into the shape of my Chihuahua, Cash.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking two thoughts here: First, what on Earth? And, second, how can I get in on this? For a short period of time, Whisps, a brand known for packaged cheese crisps, now offers pet, human, and object "portraits"—what the rest of us would call "sculptures"—carved out of a block of neon-orange cheese. Because we believe in testing out the best for our pets, we wanted to see how it worked.

And now that it’s been delivered, we can see how life imitates cheese (or, really, the other way around). Did Whisps’ carver accurately capture Cash’s tiny squinty face and his indifference toward others? Could I bring myself to eat something molded in the likeness of my best four-legged friend?

What’s this about Whisps’ cheese carvings?

An illustration showing a squinty Chihuahua named Cash sitting next to his cheddar cheese-made clone.
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby / Kevin Cortez

Whisps' limited-edition pet cheese carvings are a fun novelty gift.

As part of a holiday promotion, the company is offering custom cheddar cheese portraits through December 6, or "while supplies last." (Because apparently, a company that makes crackers from cheese might run out of their primary ingredient before year's end otherwise?) Turophiles—cheese connoisseurs, to the uninitiated—can upload a single photo of a pet, item, or human and shell out $200 to receive a carved 3D portrait measuring approximately 6¾ inches by 2 inches by 2½ inches and weighing between 3 and 4 pounds. Expedited shipping is required so that it won’t melt in transit, at the cost of an additional $60.

For those who don’t want a custom portrait but are still in the market for a cheese carving, Whisps also has three slightly smaller objects available for sale: a stack of dollar bills, a cheese grater, and a flip phone, weighing in at about 2 pounds for about $50 apiece. In any case, each carving, crafted by self-proclaimed "cheese lady" Sarah Kaufmann, will be delivered in two weeks’ time, while the cheddar cheese stays fresh for just as long after arrival.

How did my custom cheese pet portrait turn out?

A hand grabbing a cheddar cheese dog carving purchased by Whisps, that same cheese carving lying on a plate outdoors.
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Cash's orange-tinted twin is three pounds of cheddar cheese.

This sounds bad, but I promise it’s good: Cheese Cash looks not unlike—graphic content warning—an embryo or a fetal pig. Or may be like I shrank my Chihuahua’s image down by 20% and I forgot to select “scale proportionally” before hitting OK. The all-around effect is slightly terrifying, with his smushed nose, excessive wrinkles, and deep eyelids.

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But I love him.

My cheese pal has a charm that I can’t get over, and it wholly stems from its unusualness along with my awful photography skills that got him this appearance in the first place. Customers can only upload a single photo for Kaufmann to use as inspiration for her portrait. Before placing my order, I ran out to my driveway with Cash and made him sit down for a dozen photos. The best photo I took is the result you see here in cheese form: Cash, sitting down in my driveway, ears peeled back in submission but also confusion because he didn’t understand why I was making him stay still for so long.

This is to say that actual Cash looks nothing like Cheese Cash, but everything like the photo I provided of him sitting in my driveway. They’re both squinting in the sunshine, right ears pointed backward, and sitting sorta lopsided to the left. They’re both crying for some sort of stimulation or reward after being told to sit still for less than 60 seconds. The photo I provided was, admittedly, a bad one. But that poor shadowing and posture resulted in this pudgy mess that I’m deeply satisfied with, all because of its odd magnetism. This is a novelty gift, made for my girlfriend and I, based on a terrible photo I took of our dog. And it’s made out of cheddar cheese.

True to its gimmicky nature, its freshness wore off in a few hours. From the second Cheese Cash was unwrapped from his plastic and foil packaging to the final minute of uploading photos to social media, it was a blast parading this three-pound piece of fromage around the house. But after three hours of laughing and periodically washing our hands to rid them of that cloying, fermented dairy odor, my girlfriend and I were stumped as to what else to do with him.

So, what does one do next with a three-pound cheese cheddar portrait of their favorite pet? Eat it, of course. That same night, we sliced pieces of Cheese Cash’s torso to try a nibble of his body. And it tastes fine—as unassuming as orange cheddar usually is. We plan to grate Cheese Cash into our scrambled eggs for breakfast and take more chunks off his body for crackers and snacks. This will be an ongoing process over the next couple weeks, until the inevitable day that we use the rest of his crumbling build to melt into a grilled cheese sandwich and finally say farewell to our cheesy totem.

Is the Whisps’ custom cheese pet portrait worth it?

A Chihuahua named Cash sitting next to his cheese sculpture.
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Cash sitting next to his replica cheese sculpture, matching its squinty eyes.

For me, the answer to is a $200 cheddar cheese portrait worth it? is simple: No, it’s not. I had the luxury of my employer covering the bill for this pricey portrait, but if I didn’t, I personally wouldn’t spend $260 for anything so frivolous. My cap is $100 on novelty gifts and I’m far from the biggest cheddar fan. (Gouda? That’s a different story...)

But, if you’re interested in a novelty gift for the holidays that’ll be as talked about as, say, a highly priced video from Cameo, I’d say this program is worth a shot, as long as you’ve got a giftee in mind who loves cheese, and maybe a group of people who can help split the cost. It’s a fun idea for your turophile friends and family, or better yet, to use as a centerpiece for a holiday meal or an all-out charcuterie display. Just don’t leave it too close to the candlelight or it might turn that beautifully bizarre carving into fondue.

Get a Custom-Made Cheese Carving Pet Portrait from Whisps for $200

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