How Wisconsin is Your Holiday Feast? You’re Definitely a Native if You Dine on These 9 Foods.

By Christina Lorey

November 16, 2022

The holidays are here: Thanksgiving turkey. Christmas cookies. Hannukah donuts. New Year’s champagne. But true Wisconsin tables include a few staples you won’t find everywhere else!

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rounded up 9 of the most “Wisconsin” holiday foods:

Raw Beef and Onion Sandwiches
AKA The Cannibal Sandwich. Freshly-ground raw beef and raw onions between two slices of rye, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Fun Fact: Ray’s Butcher Shoppe in Milwaukee sells 1,000 pounds of raw beef specifically for these sandwiches on Christmas Eve.

Unlike its often-hated cousin, the fruitcake, this holiday treat has fewer nuts and dried fruit, but just as much seasonal spice. Various recipes include a combinations of cherries, pineapple, raisins, and/or rum… plus a generous coating of powdered sugar on top!

Named Wisconsin’s official state pastry in 2013, this ringed pastry filled with nut paste or fruit is popular for dessert or breakfast! 
Fun Fact: Racine Kringle amps up its production during the holidays, averaging 10,000/day this time of year!

Pickled Herring
It’s hard to believe the lovely people that brought us the Kringle also delivered pickled herring, but it’s true. True Danes enjoy this pickled fish with an extra stiff drink of 80-proof akvavit.

Norway’s version of the tortilla, it’s traditionally made with potatoes and smothered in butter, cinnamon and sugar, and/or lingonberry jam.  
Tip: Seve with lutefisk (dried white fish) for an authentic Scandinavian treat!

A typical Christmas Eve meal in Hispanic households, tamales are Mexico’s answer to the dumpling: meat (or vegetable)-filled dough wrapped in corn husk.

Venison Sausage and Hot Sticks
It’s best not to ask for details on how the hunting aficionados in your family got these on your table, but they sure are delicious… and about as local as you can get!
Tip: Stir your blood Mary with a venison stick and call it a “Double Sconnie”!

Cheese Balls
There’s no state law requiring cheese balls be served at your holiday gathering… YET. Extra-festive families sometimes make theirs in the shape of a wreath!
Fun Fact: Kaukauna Cheese sells 7 million cheese balls a year– half during the month of December.

Cocktail Weenies
These tiny sausages simmering in some kind of sugary condiment (either grape jelly or barbecue sauce) are simple, inexpensive, and oh-so-addicting!


  • 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.

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