For many nations, food is one of the most fundamental elements of their identity. Thus, making Armenian food accessible and known in the United States contributes in a modest way toward preserving an aspect of Armenian culture.
Monica Whitcomb and the Sun-Ni Cheese Company do contribute in that process. The company is one of the leading producers of Armenian string cheese in the United States, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator reports.
The company was founded by Kosrof Der Ohanessian, an Armenian who emigrated from the Ottoman Empire. He was able to open a delicatessen with a friend in the 1960s. Even before he and a friend would make string cheese in his kitchen for compatriots. However, as his granddaughter Monica Whitcomb claims, he began to experiment and tried to Americanize its taste. It was too salty and unpleasant to Americans. He made his cheese from whole milk, and included black nigella seeds and the spice mahleb for flavor.