The Biggest Cheeses in the World!
The 'Belle of Wisconsin'
In the late 1980's, California's milk production was closing the gap on Wisconsin's longtime claim to fame. Wisconsin responded with dropping a record-breaking, 40,000 pound cheddar on the 1988 International Dairy and Deli Association convention goers in Los Angeles. As well as taking the cheese on a 15 month victory lap around the United States as a 20 ton reminder of Wisconsin's dairy prowess!
The Belle was made by Simon's Specialty Cheese of Little Chute, a family owned cheese plant. Back in the 80's, Simon's regularly made mammoth sized blocks of cheese weighing 300 to 1,000 pounds or more. The team worked for more than 24 consecutive hours to turn 400,000 pounds of milk -- two days' work from 3,500 cows on 60 dairy farms -- into curds that would make the mammoth sized cheddar! It took 12 hours to press whey out of the curds and 3 weeks for the 40,000 pound cheese to cool. The world record-breaking cheddar was formed on March 14, 1988.
Loaded into a semi-truck trailer, known as the 'cheesemobile', the Belle was ready for it's big debut in the world! Double pane glass windows on the back of the truck provided a view of the cheese at fairs, grocery stores, and other stops during its journey.
The record-breaking cheese finished its tour and was cut into 1-pound blocks, wrapped in commemorative packaging and sold in stores across Wisconsin.
The 'Golden Giant'
Steve Suidizinksi, the owner of Steve's Cheese Co, was no stranger to making big chunks of cheese. He once made a 15,085 pound block of cheese four years before taking on the mission of making a record-breaking hunk of cheddar!
Steve and his staff of 25 other cheesemakers worked 8 hour shifts around the clock to make the cheese in January 1964. To form the 34,591 pound cheese it took more than 25 batches of milk processed in the plant's four stainless steel vats!
A film crew captured enough footage while steering clear of the cheesemakers to produce the documentary "The Golden Giant" that premiered June 10, 1964 at the Denmark Highschool.
The finished block of cheese measured 14.5 feet long, 6.5 feet wide, and 5 feet 8 inches tall! It was reported that 13 million fair goers visited the 'Golden Giant'.
Almost The Biggest Cheese In The World!
A 12,000 pound cheese made in Appleton captured national attention and impressed President Taft at the 1911 National Dairy Show in Chicago.
Nicholas Simon headed up the cheese making process that was reported to be the "biggest cheese ever made in the world." However, a month after the National Dairy Show, news articles reported that a Canadian cheesemaker had produced a 22,000 pound cheese for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
Despite it's record-breaking status, making the cheese required a HUGE amount of coordination, and not just among the 40 cheesemakers and experienced helpers!
Reports vary in the number of cows involved, ranging from 6,500 to more than 8,000 Holsetin and Guernseys with 1,200 farmers lending their hands. 32 dairy factories within 15 miles of Appleton produced the curds. Farmers were instructed when to milk the cows and the cooling method and handling of the milk. Meantime, cheesemakers were given curd specifications to ensure size and uniformity. Curds were brought from factories in cans by wagons and automobiles.
Overall, there was an enormous amount of coordination and participation on all ends!
Nicholas was greeted by President Taft on the big cheese's debut at the National Dairy Show on October 26 and was pleasantly complimented on the delicious taste of it!