KEY POINTS

  • National Cheese Lover's Day falls on Jan. 20 each year
  • Cheese was discovered by accident thousands of years ago
  • One research showed that blue cheese may have anti-inflammatory properties that protect against many diseases

National Cheese Lover's Day is here! Cheese goes way back to ancient times but is more popular than ever today. And every Jan. 20, people across the country who enjoy this dairy product can celebrate cheese in their own way.

To commemorate National Cheese Lover's Day this Wednesday, here are 12 facts about the universally loved dairy food that may surprise you.

1. Mice don't love cheese

Despite popular belief, mice don't actually like cheese as much as cartoons and movies may lead people to believe and would even snub it, according to studies. Sure, the little critters would eat it if it's the only thing around, but they prefer sweets and carbs over cheese.

2. Cheese was discovered by accident

If it weren't for a serendipitous moment, cheese would never have been discovered thousands of years ago. Legend says that it was created when milk was stored in a container lined with an animal's stomach. An enzyme from the animal's stomach caused the milk to separate into liquid (whey) and solids (curd). The curd is the cheese that people know and love today.

3. Eating Roquefort blue cheese will make you live longer, scientists believe

Some studies suggest that eating cheese improves health, with moldy Roquefort cheese believed to hold a key to longevity. Researchers at Lycotech, a biotech company in Cambridge, England, found that Roquefort has anti-inflammatory properties that may be extracted to create drugs that fight cardiovascular disease, The Telegraph reported.

4. It takes about 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese

No wonder cheese is valued so much! The best way to ensure that the milk turns into cheese is to provide dairy cows a healthy, nutritious diet.

5. Some cheeses are illegal

In the U.S., certain types of cheese are illegal due to safety concerns related to bacteria levels, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The list includes cheeses made with raw milk and aged under 60 days, such as Brie de Meaux, Reblochon, Valencay, Epoisses, Roquefort and Camembert de Normandie.

6. Lactose-intolerant people can still eat cheese

Those who are lactose-intolerant don't need to completely cut cheese off from their diets. They just need to choose the right kind of cheese. Aged cheeses have less lactose than fresh ones. These include Brie, Camembert, cheddar, Gouda, Muenster, Parmesan, provolone and Swiss.

Free Cheesecake Get your free cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory by ordering from DoorDash Wednesday. Students enjoy the new peanut butter cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory presents American Idol Lee DeWyze to kick off Feeding America's Hunger Action Month at James Hotel on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Getty Images/Tasos Katopodis

7. Cheese helps make people sleep better

A study back in 2005 revealed that eating cheese at least 30 minutes before going to bed can help a person get a good night's sleep. This is due to an amino acid called tryptophan, which is said to have the ability to reduce stress and help induce sleep.

8. There are caves full of cheese

Cheese caves have been around for a long time, with cheesemakers using them to age the product properly. The caves' cool and humid environment enabled cheese to impart another level of flavor.

9. A lot of cheese varieties

Cheese.com has a database of about 1,833 varieties of cheese that anyone can browse by name and country of origin. Check it out and take your pick.

10. A cheesy gift

Queen Victoria was given a giant wheel of cheddar cheese on her wedding day. The gift weighed over 1,000 pounds.

11. The Swiss cheese mystery has a theory

A study in 2015 suggested that the holes one can find in Swiss cheese are caused by hay dust that falls into milk buckets. Another theory said the holes are caused by bacteria.

12. There's a reason for circular cheeses

European cheesemakers back in the day would roll their wares around instead of trying to carry them.