The following was originally posted in 2011 and is being reposted with some minor changes in time for the 2016 Monroe NY Cheese Festival which starts at 10am on Saturday September 10, 2016.
Thanks to Julius Wettstein!!!
In 1873, Julius started a cheese factory in Monroe, NY. The factory produced German, French and Swiss cheeses and Julius was very successful. However, his wife became ill and he packed up the family and sold his factory, training the new owners before he joined his family in Germany.
The new owners, Messrs. Gross & Co., purchased the rights to the cheese, which was known at that time as “Fromage de Brie.” These owners operated the company and then sold it a mere 6 years later in 1884. The new owners, Adolphe Tode and Ferninand Wolfe received, in addition to the buildings and previous trademark, the new trademarks which also included “neuchatel” and “d’Isigny”.
In 1888, a cheesemaker named Emil Frey came to work for Tode and Wolfe. He was challenged by the owners to make a domestic Bismarck cheese to address problems with damage during importing they were experiencing with the existing cheese. Frey worked on the project for two years and developed a cheese which was officially named “Liederkanz”, which became an extremely popular cheese. In a two-day period in 1915, over 1000 boxes of the cheese were shipped.
Years later, Emil Frey was experimenting with cheese processes at home and he developed a new cheese. His experimentation resulted in what we now know as Velveeta. The Velveeta Cheese Company was established in 1923 as a separate company. Eventually, the cheese was sold in almost every American hotel and restaurant as well as in parts of Europe. When the Monroe Cheese factory moved production of Liederkanz out of Monroe in 1926, Velveeta remained behind. The Velveeta company was subsequently sold to Kraft in 1927 and the Monroe plant was closed in 1929.
Note: This is a very abbreviated version of the historical information that can be found on Monroe’s official website for the Cheese Festival.
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Every year, the town of Monroe celebrates its cheese history with a celebration at Crane Park in the center of Monroe from 10am to 5pm.
This year the event will be held on Saturday, September 10th. This event will feature DJ music, entertainment including a line dancing, mechanical bull, kids tent, video game trailer, a photo booth, Monroe Historical tours and food.
More information on the history of Monroe’s cheese manufacturing, and details about the event including directions can be found here.