Monroe - Cheese making in Monroe was started in 1873 by Julius Wettstein and during its early years it adopted the name Monroe Cheese Company. And in 1891 Jacob Weisl, a New York city wholesale grocer, acquired the company. The Weisl family would successfully guide the company for the next 38 years until they sold it to Borden’s in 1929. The Monroe Cheese Company made a number of different cheeses including Swiss, Cheddar, Fromage de Brie, Neufchatel and d’Isigny. A young Swiss cheese maker by the name of Emil Frey came to the Monroe Cheese Company in 1888. It would be here in the 1890s’ in Monroe that he created a cheese that would be later named Liederkranz. Liederkranz is a soft ripened cheese with a pungent aroma. To give you an idea of its popularity when it was made in Monroe, the local newspaper, the Monroe Gazette, reported on May 15, 1915, that more than 1,000 boxes of Liederkranz was shipped from the factory in a two-day period. As each box weighed five pounds and the shipment amounted to two and half tons for those two days. The Gazette further reported that the average consignment has averaged more than a ton each day. Because of the dwindling milk supply in Monroe, the Monroe Cheese Company built a new plant in Van Wert, Ohio, which was opened in 1926. The Monroe plant continued to make Velveeta, until that was sold in 1927 to Kraft. Liederkranz continued to be made in Van Wert until 1981 when the Borden Company went out of the natural cheese business. In 1982 the Fisher Cheese Co. would produce Liederkranz until 1985 when all production ceased because of problems at the plant. Now for the first time in 25 years Liederkranz is again being produced for the DCI Cheese Company of Richfield, Wisconsin. The cheese is being made at the Chalet Cheese Co-op in Monroe - that is Monroe, Wisconsin. The DCI Cheese company will be present at the Monroe Cheese Festival this year (Saturday, Sept. 11) with samples of Liederkranz and other fine cheeses that they produce or represent. You may view the making of Liederkranz under the title “Liederkranz is Back.” And you may now purchase Liederkranz at your local ShopRite supermarkets.
Walking in history’s footsteps The Monroe Historical Society will conduct tours to the former Monroe Cheese Company at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the Monroe Cheese Festival on Saturday, Sept. 11. You may join the tour at our historical display on Lake Street in front of the John DeAngelis Hall.