Experience Columbia SC, the capital city’s downtown tourist information center, has a new campaign to lure visitors to the Midlands by stirring up that iconic southern staple: pimento cheese.

On April 9, National Pimento Cheese Day, the campaign introduced the official Pimento Cheese Passport. The passport features a list of 15 restaurants that sell pimento cheese dishes in Columbia, West Columbia and Lexington. Participants of the campaign will receive a stamp if they purchase a pimento cheese dish at the restaurants. Once at least ten stamps are collected, the participant can enter a raffle and win prizes.

“Columbia does pimento cheese in so many awesome ways. Almost every restaurant that you go into, they have a different way of serving pimento cheese. So we thought it might be a great way to partner with some of our restaurants,” said Charlene Slaughter, director of communications for Experience Columbia SC.

Slaughter and her team wanted to get locals and visitors excited about how the Midlands serve pimento cheese and its history.

A record from 1912 shows the earliest printed recipe for pimento cheese made in Columbia. Written by Janie DuBose, the recipe was printed in “A Friend in Need,” and includes grated cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and the option of sour pickle. Currently, it is the earliest recorded recipe of pimento cheese that has been found.

“We are the birthplace of the pimento cheeseburger and where someone actually decided to put pimento cheese on a burger. You’re welcome world,” Slaughter said. “They say pimento cheese is actually from the north because of the cream cheese aspect of it. But we all know the South perfected it.”

To Slaughter, no one does pimento cheese better than Columbia, and the workers at Diprato’s Delicatessen feel the same way.

Winston-Salem native Harper Winicov started working at Diprato’s in January after hearing from her friend that the food was amazing, especially the pimento cheese. It was the first restaurant she heard about before moving to Columbia for her college education. She knows how many people travel to Columbia just to try the restaurant’s #1 item.

“We sell over 500 pounds of pimento cheese a week. We’ve had people from all over come just to have the pimento cheese,” Winicov said. “I served someone last week from Charlotte who just drove down for her Sunday brunch to have the pimento cheese. We obviously have other delicious items, but that’s what we’re known for.”

The main goal of the campaign is that Experience Columbia SC wants people to steadily go into these restaurants and for the restaurants to take ownership of serving pimento cheese.

“We are promoting them. We’re trying to get publicity for them from not only local or people visiting restaurants, but from local media, and also on a regional and national scale as well,” Slaughter said.

Charlene Slaughter, director of communications for Experience Columbia SC, and her team wanted to get locals and visitors excited about how the Midlands serve pimento cheese and its history which dates back to 1912.

The earliest recorded pimento cheese recipe was written in Columbia by Janie Dubose in 1912. The city is also known as the home of the pimento cheese sandwich.

Diprato’s Delicatessen on Pickens Street is one of the 15 featured restaurants in the passport and sells over 500 pounds of pimento cheese every week.

Locals and visitors can collect stamps from various restaurants in the passport to be eligible to enter raffle and win a prize from Experience Columbia SC.