If Wisconsin Were a Country, We’d Rank 4th in Total Cheese Production, & Other Cheesy Facts, Recipes From ‘America’s Dairyland’

By Christina Lorey, Cherita Booker

November 1, 2022

Impress your family, friends, and fellow cheese lovers with some Dairy State trivia (& dishes!) this Thanksgiving.

Let’s be honest: this time of year is all about food. And when you think Wisconsin, you think cheese.

The official “Wisconsin Cheese” website has compiled a list of five must-try Thanksgiving recipes, which– of course– all use Wisconsin cheese. 

From the perfect cheese to put on your charcuterie board to a savory Bacon-Beer-Cheddar Stuffing that everyone will love, click here for the editors’ picks!

Here are a few cheesy facts to also bring to your Thanksgiving gathering:

  • Wisconsin produces 600 different varieties of cheese– more than double the amount runner-up state, California, makes.

  • Brick and Colby were first created in Wisconsin.
  • Limburger, the world’s single stinkiest cheese, is only made in Monroe.

  • 90% of Wisconsin milk is made into cheese– enough for 11 pounds per person in the US.

  • There are more than 1,000,000 cows in Wisconsin–one for every 5 people!

  • Wisconsin is home to more than 13 festivals dedicated specifically to cheese.
  • Outside of Switzerland, Wisconsin has the only master cheesemaker program in the world.

  • Wisconsin is also the only place outside of Europe that requires a license to make cheese.
  • Wisconsin produces one-quarter of all cheese in America (3.2 billion lbs./year!) and half of all specialty cheese.

  • “America’s Dairyland” earned its title with more national and international cheese awards that anywhere else in the world.

  • The nation’s first dairy school was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • If it were a country, Wisconsin would rank 4th in the world in cheese production, behind the rest of the US, Germany, and France.
  • Cheese curds are the freshest form of cheddar. In the cheese-making process, the curds separate from the whey and, once the whey is drained, the cheese curds are what remain.

  • The Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin is the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in Pierce County, 50 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

  • Fresh cheese curds squeak because the elastic protein strands in the cheese rub against the enamel of your teeth.

  • The earliest commercial dairy producers started making cheese because it kept longer than milk or butter at a time when storage and transportation was limited.
  • By the end of the Civil War, there were 30 cheese factories in Wisconsin. By 1870, there were 54 in three main counties: Sheboygan, Green, and Jefferson. Today, there are 1,290 licensed cheese producers in the state.

Authors

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

  • Cherita Booker

    Milwaukee native Cherita Booker attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has worked in various roles as a multimedia journalist since 2017. She enjoys photography, dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

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