Druzhba (Дружба), which translates to “friendship,” is a line of cheese spread produced by the Karat manufacturing plant in Moscow.
Druzhba was originally produced in 1965 to provide astronauts with high-nutrient food while in space. However, the cheese proved so popular that the plant soon shifted to mass production to serve the wider public. Druzhba was widely available during Soviet times, and is still loved by many. Spotting the cheese among the imported brands is easy due to its iconic packaging, which hasn’t ever changed.
Druzhba has a thicker consistency than most cheese spreads, and is easily sliced or cut into creamy pieces. It’s a white cheese with a fat content between 50-70 percent and without preservatives or artificial coloring. One of the most popular appetizers of Soviet-era dining was a soup with potatoes, vermicelli, and not-quite-so-melted Druzhba cheese soaked in broth. It is also used many other soups in Russia and beyond.
In 2005, during the Second Moscow Cheese Festival, Karat installed an unusual monument to Druzhba in front of its Moscow headquarters. Two bitter enemies from a fable by the famous 19th century Russian poet Ivan Krylov – a fox and a crow – hold a package of Druzhba (weighing 460 lbs!) with the utmost love and affection. Over the years, an urban myth has developed: if newlyweds take their picture with the fox and the crow, pet the crow’s beak and grab the fox’s tail, they’re sure to live in happiness and harmony for many years to come.
To this day, Karat regularly ships its products – including Druzhba – to the International Space Station. It also supplies the Russian Army, the FSB, EMERCOM, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In addition, it exports its product throughout Eurasia and even to Russian-food specialty stores in the US, so that even Russian emigrants can get their favorite cheese.
An easy-to-follow recipe with delicious, cheesy Druzhba soup:
Druzhba cheese: the greatest thing since sliced bread?