With the Green Bay Packers headed to the Super Bowl (sorry, Chicago, we love you but we’re Wisconsin born and bred), we thought we’d take a moment to celebrate two of Wisconsin’s favorite industries: football and cheese. (Spices are a tad further down the line.) The Green Bay Packers were formed in 1919, and by 1923 were a franchise of the NFL. Today they remain the only team still associated with the small town of its founding. With strong ties to the local community and a rabidly devoted fan base (every home game has been sold out since 1960), the Packers are a publicly owned team. Many Wisconsinites have a share framed and hanging on their walls. (Check our Evanston location for one of these.)
The name “Packers” come from their original sponsors the Indian Packing Company. Despite this initial association with a meat packing company, Packers fans are commonly known as Cheeseheads after the most prominent local industry. European immigrants, largely from Germany and its neighbors, brought dairy farming traditions with them to Wisconsin in the 19th century, and Wisconsin’s first commercial cheese factory started operations in 1841. Today Wisconsin ranks behind only much larger California in milk production, and leads the nation in cheese production (and, I would guess, consumption). With 600 varieties being commercially produced, Wisconsin cheese accounts for about 25% of all domestic cheese. This includes conventional, mass-produced cheeses, but also covers a wide array of artisan cheeses. Wisconsin has the highest number of licensed cheesemakers and is the only state to offer a European-style Master Cheesemaker program. And unlike most US dairy states, Wisconsin has a high proportion of small, grazing-based dairies (as opposed to the more common industrialized types), so the quality of milk and cream for cheese making is high. In short, this is a state that takes its cheese seriously. So it’s an indication of how much we love our football team that we wear cheese on our heads to show our support.
Patty and Tom will be heading to Dallas to cheer on their local team, but for those of us staying here, cheese based snacks are on the menu. Sure, there’s always classic nacho dip cheese and crackers, but how about cheese-filled puff pastry shaped into the Pack’s oval “G”? Or cheese fondue? Or classic Wisconsin cheese soup? There’s only a week of planning before the big game, so get creative, get cheesy, and GO PACKERS!