Monroe NY Cheese Festival
This post was originally published for the 2012 Cheese Festival, but has been updated to provide historical information about the town of Monroe NY.
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 new 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.
Every year, the town of Monroe celebrates its cheese history with a day-long celebration at Crane Park in the center of Monroe.
The event is typically held on a weekend in September, and is held rain or shine. The day features music, entertainment, many vendors, demonstrations, food, and real estate and other local information.
For more information on the history of Monroe’s cheese manufacturing, and details about the annual cheese event including diections, see the Monroe Historical Society website.