Log in Newsletter

‘Diced pimentos? Really?’- The Journey of Danny B's Pimento Cheese


Danny Barnes was busy cutting steaks and chops during a long career at Food Lion – and sharing his talents with others – when a customer approached him. Could Barnes point him in the direction of the diced pimentos?

“I said, ‘Diced pimentos? Really?’ ” Barnes said.

Until then, Barnes’ experience with pimento cheese had been limited to a sandwich or two at a golf tournament. “I wasn’t impressed,” he said.

But that customer’s inquiry led to the creation of Danny B’s pimento cheese and to a booming popularity among those who love his particular way with shredded cheese, mayonnaise and, of course, pimento. Well, we think there’s mayonnaise in there. Barnes isn’t saying exactly what ingredients he uses.

“He gave me a basic recipe, and I tweaked it,” Barnes said of the customer he helped with locating the little jars usually located next to the pickles and olives. “Every time I made it, people wanted me to bring it to Super Bowl parties and that kind of thing. They said, hey, you could sell this.”

He eventually tried his hand at bringing some samples to The Organic Butcher Shop in Dunn, where he knew the owner. Danny B’s has been a hit ever since and can now also be found in a growing number of stores, including The Downtown Market of Fayetteville, Carroll’s IGA in Stedman, Gavin’s IGA in Eastover, Gillis Hill Road Produce, Home Food Market and Rockfish Pharmacy in Raeford.

“We love it, and he has a huge following,” said Dorothy Adkins, owner of The Organic Butcher Shop. “We’re going to have his pimento cheeseburger at our food truck this weekend.”

Barnes, a graduate of South View High School, eventually left Food Lion on such good terms that they stock his pimento cheese at several of their stores. These days, he and his mother, Marsha LaFontaine, churn out batches of his recipe in a commercial kitchen in Fayetteville. Wife Jessica pitches in whenever she can as well.

Barnes prefers his pimento cheese in basic fashion – dolloped atop Ritz crackers. But he said it also goes well as a topping on a variety of favorites, including burgers, baked potatoes, grits, hot dogs and chicken biscuits. Though he isn’t divulging his recipe, Barnes said the secret to his pimento cheese is the process.

“I strive for perfection every time,” he said. “I won’t let anything be different. Every single batch is the same or else I’ll toss it.”

According to the AP Stylebook, which journalists follow for such things, the word for the mild red pepper of European origins has an “i” in it: pimiento. But Danny B goes with pimento. “The American spelling,” he said.

And who are we to argue with the man who sells containers of the stuff in multiples? Danny B’s pimento cheese keeps has a shelf-life of 45 days in the refrigerator, but that’s actually been difficult to prove.

“If you open,” he said, “you’re going to eat it all.”