TULSA - A restaurant called The Italian Inn closed in 1992 after 50 years in business in Tulsa.
Later, the restaurant's owner, Betty Funston Collins, revealed her secret cheese dip recipe in a cookbook. It could also be found in an article in the Tulsa World. After that article, LaDonna Cullinan, the owner of LaDonna's Fancy Foods, started getting a lot of requests to sell the type of cheese that makes up the basis of the dip.
This special cheese is Wisconsin cold pack cheddar cheese.
"The one thing everyone missed was their cheese dip," Cullinan said.
Cullinan primarily sells imported cheeses (thus, "fancy" foods), so she didn't like the idea of offering a processed Wisconsin cheese. However, she was willing to make the recipe and package it to sell, so she did that instead.
Today, the not-so-fancy cheese is one of her biggest sellers. "We sell tons of it, everybody wants it," Cullinan said.
If you want to enjoy the cheesy goodness Tulsans have enjoyed for more than 70 years, you can pick some up at LaDonna's or you can make it yourself.
Here is the cheese dip recipe:
24 oz. Wisconsin cold pack cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise (LaDonna uses mayo; the original recipe calls for Miracle Whip)
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Let cheese soften and mix until smooth. Serves 8 to 10.