We not only wear cheese on our head, but we eat a lot of it too.
Whether you have lived in Wisconsin your entire life, recently moved here, or are just visiting, you have to partake in some of our state’s signature foods and combinations—yes, even the things that might be a little out of your comfort zone. The good news is that this sample of items doesn’t include any bugs or slimy creatures, a la Andrew Zimmern.
But, fair warning, it does get extra cheesy. They call us America’s Dairyland for a reason.
Chocolate Cheese Fudge
Wisconsin is famous for its cheese, including colby and several varieties of cheddar. However, you might not have seen or tried chocolate cheese, sometimes called chocolate cheese fudge. Chocolate cheese is made with white cheddar cheese. Cheesemakers add cream, butter, sugar, and cocoa to pasteurized white cheddar. For the full fudge effect, some places add walnuts.
Chocolate cheese can be tricky to find. You typically will not find it at your local grocery store, even at the “fancy” cheese counter. But, you can find it in specialty shops and cheese factories throughout the state, like Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet in DeForest or Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha.
Limburger is a washed-rind cheese that is cured in a saltwater brine. Washing the cheese periodically keeps the rind moist and accepting to bacteria. The same bacteria responsible for foot odor, Brevibacterium linens, is what grows on limburger cheese. Yum! Although limburger smells funky, it has a robust flavor that actually isn’t as strong as bleu cheese or aged cheddar.
Limburger cheese comes from the Limburg territory, now located in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Swiss immigrants in Green County first made limburger in 1867. Today, Germans make the most limburger cheese; only one American producer of limburger remains: Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe.
If you buy limburger cheese, know that the longer it sits in your fridge, the stronger it smells and tastes. After about three months, it will smell like a locker room full of sweaty gym socks and have a rich flavor. If you want a milder dose, eat it soon after buying. Most put it on rye bread with some red onion and brown or hot mustard.
Also, it goes best with beer; the Wisconsin Cheese Man recommends a bock.
Beer Cheese Soup
Wisconsin is famous for all kinds of tasty beers: Leinenkugel’s, Spotted Cow, and PBR, to name only a few. So of course it shouldn’t be surprising that we found a way to put beer and cheese together in some way. If you aren’t from Wisconsin, this combo might sound gross, but we assure you—it’s fabulous.
Like chili, jambalaya, mac and cheese, and other popular comfort foods in the US, Wisconsin households, restaurants, and taverns have their own tried and true recipes for beer cheese soup. The exact taste highly depends on the kind of beer and cheese one uses.
Beer cheese soup first came to Wisconsin with—yep, you guessed it—German immigrants. It was a popular dish in medieval Europe. Today’s versions typically start with a roux (melted butter and flour), chicken broth, and some beer. Some recipes include various veggies, such as onions, carrots, and celery, and of course, you need to add cheese. Cheddar and colby are favorite choices, but you can use almost any kind of cheese.
Once the alcohol cooks out and everything comes together, most throw some crumbled bacon on top to serve. However, popcorn and croutons are other popular toppings. If you don’t want to make your own batch, look for beer cheese soup on the menu of many restaurants and pubs throughout the state.
Secret Stadium Sauce
Throughout your travels across Wisconsin, you’ll find amazing bratwurst and other sausages no matter where you go. So anytime you get the chance to try an unfamiliar kind, we recommend just doing it. Then there’s the added adventure that comes with what you put on your brat or hot dog, especially at American Family Field in Milwaukee (formerly Miller Park). Its “secret stadium sauce” is so popular it can be found at many grocery stores in the Milwaukee area.
Sportservice, the vendor for the old County Stadium, developed Secret Stadium Sauce in the 1970s. The sauce became so popular with Brewers fans that they bottled it and started selling it at the Brewers FanZone and local grocery stores.
The actual recipe for Secret Stadium Sauce is locked away in a vault. However, the label on their bottle shows that the main ingredients are water, tomato paste, vinegar, corn syrup and various spices, such as salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
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