If you ever find yourself in Wisconsin, there are a couple of things that become immediately obvious. The first is that the locals have an unhealthy obsession with their football team. Let slip the merest mention of “Lombardi” and you’ll be swamped by chatty Packers fans more eager to talk about the 60s than a group of elderly hippies.
The second is that this is a state that loves cheese. Not love in the way that you or I might love “Game of Thrones” or beers on a Friday, but love in the way that a parent loves their child or Donald Trump loves Twitter. They seem to have a visceral need for it that goes beyond rhyme or reason and can actually stop them from concentrating on anything else. If France is the spiritual home of cheese, Wisconsin is the resort where it owns a timeshare.
For many residents, this obsession manifests itself in the noble art of cheese making. All across the state, artisans are hard at work making everything from cheddar, to gouda, to Swiss in colossal quantities. In fact, every year Wisconsin cheesemakers manage to produce an astonishing three billion pounds of dairy product for export around the world. To say the state runs on wheels of cheese would be an understatement.
It should come as little surprise to learn, therefore, that Wisconsin has an above average interest in cheese records. Not only does it consistently lead the nation in cheese production, but residents have also been involved in setting a number of solo achievements. In 2011, for instance, local citizen Sarah Kaufmann (also known as “The Cheese Lady”) set the world record for largest cheese sculpture when she carved a two-month aged block of cheddar into a rollercoaster at the Wisconsin State Fair. Now, in 2018, Wisconsinites are at it again.
Unveiled this week in Madison, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin group have completed the monumental task of putting together the world’s largest cheeseboard. This gargantuan crop of curds weighs in at a whopping 4,437 pounds, smashing the previous record by more than 1,000 pounds of cheese. For context, the Wisconsin board weighs roughly the same as the average American car, or an adult white rhinoceros. That’s a lot of cheese, by anyone’s standard.
Containing an array of specialty cheeses from across the state, the 35-foot-long board caused quite a stir when it was unveiled in the capital. According to “Food and Wine”, the ceremony attracted around 45,000 people, of whom 2,000 were able to sample some of the cheese for themselves. The rest were given an opportunity to win whole wheels by entering a raffle - the proceeds of which went to support the Great American Milk Drive as well as the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.
According to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin VP Suzanne Fanning, this challenge was about more than stacking cheese together. In a statement, Fanning said that, “We wanted to showcase the amazing breadth of the award winning cheeses in Wisconsin and we thought, what better way to do that than to create the world’s largest cheeseboard." Given the size and scale of what they’ve put together, it seems fair to say “mission accomplished”.