As near as cheese historians can make out, the practice originated many years ago in England. Milk contains varying amounts of beta-carotene, the yellow-orange stuff found in carrots and other vegetables. Milk from pasture-fed cows has higher beta-carotene levels in the spring and summer, when the cows are munching on fresh grass, and lower levels during the fall and winter, when they're eating hay. Thus the natural color of the cheese varies over the course of a year. So cheese makers began adding coloring agents. Nowadays the most common of these is annatto, a yellow-red dye made from the seeds of a tree of the same name. Dyeing the cheese eliminated seasonal color fluctuations and also played to the fact (or anyway the belief) that spring/summer milk had a higher butterfat content than the fall/winter kind and thus produced more flavorful cheese.Pretty cool, huh? I'd say my favorite orange cheese is probably Double Gloucester. It's great for snacking and is fantastic when melted on an open faced sandwich. Orange cheeses also add great color and contrast to a cheese plate, though I don't think entirely necessary to make a beautiful plate.
Oh, and some of those washed rind cheeses have a delightful orange crust from the b. linens and we're happy to extend the deal to those as well.