Best pimento cheese

A popular recipe from a local market now has some pretty big bragging rights when it comes to who has the best sandwich in all of North Carolina.
Musten & Crutchfield on North Main Street has been selected as one of two Piedmont Triad family-owned grocery markets to offer the best pimento cheese sandwich in the state, according to a recent edition of Food & Wine magazine.
If that’s not impressive enough, the subtitle to the article, “The Best Sandwich in Every State,” is “Legends only.”
The magazine notes of the North Carolina fare, “Pimento cheese belongs to all of us now, but before word ever properly got out, it belonged to the South, and North Carolina most of all. It’s said that the most pimento cheese-consumingest population in the country is found in the Charlotte region, where a great deal of the ambrosial stuff is made. And where does one procure the finest cheddar cheese, pimento pepper, and mayonnaise salad/spread in the land? We’re partial to two magnificent classics, both vintage markets serving their respective communities for generations — Conrad & Hinkle, established 100 years ago in Lexington, because sometimes you have to eat vegetarian, even in one of the country’s eminent barbecue capitals, and Musten & Crutchfield in Kernersville, at it since the 1930s.”
Musten & Crutchfield’s pimento cheese recipe is nothing if not legendary, that’s for sure. The southern staple that calls Kernersville home has been written about far and wide and remains a favorite among customers.
According to family member John Crutchfield, Musten & Crutchfield was opened in Kernersville on April 11, 1938 by John Musten and his son-in-law, Dace Crutchfield.
“We started serving Kernersville in 1938. We are still serving Kernersville and the surrounding area 82 years later,” said Crutchfield, who runs the family business today.
Crutchfield shared that the original recipe was made by Elva Musten, wife of John Musten.
“I personally don’t know how or when she created the recipe. I do know that she created it using a few ingredients that she had available at the time. It was a quick and easy lunch option for her family. When her husband and son-in-law opened the store, it was added as an offering,” Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield said they always knew their pimento cheese would be legendary.
“I think we always knew it was a winner. What we didn’t know is how popular it would be with our customers 82 years later. We started selling our pimento cheese wholesale in the late 90s. We started with small independent stores and even some convenience stores. Eventually, we were able to secure supermarket accounts and the popularity continues to grow. I think the product speaks for itself,” Crutchfield said.
He continued.
“We haven’t changed anything in the process of making it other than using larger equipment. Word of mouth has been our marketing strategy. We find that it is the best and most powerful way to gain new customers. Even today, we have long time customers bringing their family and friends into our store to try our pimento cheese and of course they see all the other great items we have as well. As far as being legendary, all the credit for that has to go to Elva. The only thing we have done is follow her instructions and look for more places to sell her pimento cheese.”
Crutchfield credited one thing in making Elva Musten’s pimento cheese the success that it is today.
“In a word, consistency. I don’t think we would be where we are today if we were not consistent with our product,” Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield said he was surprised about the article in Food & Wine magazine.
“I was very surprised. I received a phone call from a relative. He said that he was working from home and got a notice about an article from Food & Wine,” Crutchfield said. “The article was telling about the best sandwiches in America by state. When he said that, I knew that pimento cheese had to be the best for North Carolina. He confirmed my suspicion and then told me that we were specifically listed as being one that they (Food & Wine) were partial to. The next day, I got more phone calls about it.”
Obviously, Musten & Crutchfield has garnered much acclaim through the market’s pimento cheese recipe. What else does Crutchfield want people to know about what is one of Kernersville’s oldest family-owned establishments?
“So many things. Probably the most important is that we are still here and will be celebrating our 83rd anniversary in April,” Crutchfield noted. “We are more than just a place to get great pimento cheese. We make over 40 items in house and if you include all the flavors of fudge, that number jumps over 300. We get to know our customers and love seeing each and every one.”
He added.
“All of our employees – past, present and future – have had a hand in making the pimento cheese in some manner. Some make it, some package, some simply unload the raw ingredients. It has taken each and every one of our dedicated employees to stay in business this long and to produce the World’s Best Pimento Cheese!”

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