Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Cheese Than People

Magnet # 254: Wisconsin Milk Bottle

Material: Porcelain

Purchased By: Dad

It was on this day in 1848 that Wisconsin became the 30th state to be admitted into the Union. The French are believed to be the first European nation to reach the area in the 1630s, when their explorer Jean Nicolet was traveling the Great Lakes by canoe. While the French didn't do much but establish some fur trading posts in the area before they lost it to the British after the French and Indian War, they still continued trading there, eventually settling the region. The United States took control from the British after the American Revolution, but failed to do much with it until the War of 1812 had been settled. It was then that the area changed its focus to mining lead. Settlers pored into the area, many of them digging holes for shelter and leading to the nickname of the "Badger State." By 1836, the Wisconsin Territory had been established and in just over a decade, it gained statehood. For a time, the new state dabbled in one industry after another, producing some of the most wheat in the country, and becoming so overwhelmed by the lumber industry that most of the trees in the state were stripped away. Finally, in 1890s, the state began to find its true calling - dairy farming. Immigrants to the area began crafting cheeses based on traditions from their respective homelands and exporting them all around the nation. Before long, Wisconsin had been established as "America's Dairyland." And although other industries would continue to spring up, the state would hold firm to this title. It still produces more cheese than any state in the country, and only California is able to beat Wisconsin in overall dairy production. There are also other food related industries in the state, such as meat products and beer. It's a pretty good chance we all enjoy the exports of the Badger State on a regular basis. I, for one, am a pretty big fan of Wisconsin Cheddar - it certainly blows American Cheese out of the water!

I've only been to Wisconsin once in my life, when I traveled there with my family that was living in Chicago to buy some fireworks. It was around July 4, and we were getting ready to celebrate. I don't remember much of the rural area we were in that day. But there is plenty to be seen in the state. One tourist destination I'd really like to experience for myself is House on the Rock near Spring Green. I've been told by a friend that visited it that when he comes across someone else who's been there, it's never a mild-mannered conversation - they usually exclaim their mutual amazement of this site, which is supposed to be like no place else in the world. House on the Rock sprang from the mind of Alex Jordan, Jr., who was infuriated after his hero, Frank Lloyd Wright, said he wouldn't hire Jordan to build anything - even a chicken coop. To show Lloyd Wright up, he created a home filled with all sorts of unusual rooms and elaborate collections - it even has what is said to be the world's largest carousel. The most striking feature of the home may very well be its Infinity Room, an unsupported room filled with windows that stretches out 218 feet. Though Jordan first discouraged onlookers at House on the Rock, he soon realized he could charge them for admission, and the crowds have only increased with time, making this unusual home one of the tourist attractions in the region. And Lloyd Wright's own summer home, Taliesin, is nearby, so it's possible to compare the two architects. Wisconsin Dells, with its host of waterparks, and Circus World in Baraboo are also very popular tourist destinations in the state. And, yes, I have seen adorable Wisconsin magnets on the web that read "Wisconsin - We've Got More Cheese Than People" - I wouldn't mind getting one of those. But this one is still pretty great, and nothing like the rest of my collection - I'm glad my Dad picked it up. Sure, Wisconsin may be famous for its dairy output, but there is plenty more to be seen in this exciting state.


  1. I have to agree the cheese from Wisconsin is great!

  2. I'm glad that I'm not alone in my adoration!