By Gina Cherelus
(Reuters) - The White House attracted pungent waggery on Wednesday after using the arcane theme of a big block of cheese to lure people into a post-State of the Union online conversation with administration officials.
The social media event was inspired by President Andrew Jackson's 1837 open house featuring a 1,400-pound block of cheese, with a meta allusion to fictional White House chief of staff, Leo McGarry, who told his staffers about the cheese draw in an early episode of "The West Wing" TV series.
Following President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, the administration invited Cabinet officials, members of Congress and Senior White House officials to answer questions submitted by the public on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, with the hashtag #BigBlockOfCheeseDay.
It was the third year the White House has staged the event and it was among the top trending hashtags on Twitter on Wednesday as people asked questions on topics ranging from climate change to the economy.
Others jumped in to deliver a gouda deal of cheese puns.
Margarey Gach (@mgachby) tweeted: "Seeing the White House accounts inundated w/ cheesy puns is really grate. They feta keep this up all day #BigBlockOfCheeseDay."
"#BigBlockofCheeseDay you cheddar believe it," wrote Darren Bown (Dazzb84).
"Pure bliss with a slice of swiss #BigBlockOfCheeseDay," tweeted Carol Layne (@keddle01).
Chuck Badger (@CharlesBadger) tweeted: "I think you have to be a "West Wing" fan to truly appreciate the glory that is #BigBlockOfCheeseDay today."
Big Block of Cheese Day was intended as a nod both to President Jackson and "The West Wing," and to make the administration more accessible, the White House said in its blog. The event drew serious responses from administration officials such as Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
Asked about plans for the minimum wage, Perez (@LaborSec) tweeted: "Americans shouldn't have to win the geographic lottery for fair paycheck. Need to #RaiseTheWage #BigBlockOfCheeseDay."
Other officials such as first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough were also expected to take part.
Twitter users were invited to use the hashtag #AskTheWH along with #BigBlockOfCheeseDay to get their questions answered.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Dan Burns and Frances Kerry)