There are few things that will make you homesick quicker than remembering all the things you ate and drank at home but no longer have access to now that you moved away. Folks that live elsewhere but come back to visit usually have a list of places they stop and things they eat or take home with them when they go – I myself used to mandate a stop at Kopps on the way home from the airport when I’d come back on college breaks. Food is so fundamentally tied to our memories and to specific places that being able to find a true Usingers bratwurst when you like hundreds of miles away is akin to finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Some things just plain taste like home – or just taste so much better here that it’s not even worth trying to match it anywhere else. Here are 15 Wisconsin foods that every Wisconsinites misses dearly and craves ravenously when they move away:
Other folks may be happy to just have hot dogs from the grill, but we Wisconsinites know a good brat is far superior. There's just something about the smell of a beer-soaked brat smoking on the grill that puts you smack dab in Wisconsin. It's one of our most iconic foods and the one I missed the most when I was gone.
2. Fresh cheese curds
More and more you can find fried cheese curds on menus outside of the Dairy State, but these fresh, squeaky bits of delicioiusness are pretty much only found within our borders. Sure, we love them at least as much for their novelty as anything else, but they're a treat and they're so symbolic of life in Wisconsin.
3. Fish Fry
Every state has a seafood tradition around the Lenten season, but no one loves a fish fry like Wisconsin loves a fish fry. Heck, we don't care if it's Spring or not, we serve them year round. Piping hot, accompanied by potato pancakes and darn near sacred on Friday nights, a fish fry is one of those Wisconsin traditions we don't even realize we take for granted until we don't have them.
4. Frozen Custard
Everyone has an opinion on custard, but for those who grew up on it in the southeastern part of the state, nothing is sadder than settling for froyo or ice cream when you're really craving the silky goodness of frozen custard. I still maintain that Kopps cookies n' cream would be my dessert of choice if I had one meal left on this Earth.
5. State Fair Cream Puff
I don't necessarily find myself craving them year round, but frankly my summer isn't complete until I've shared a State Fair Cream Puff. The specific smell of the puffs as they bake and the ice cold fluffy whipped cream are just a quintessential part of many Wisconsinites' summers.
6. Butter Burger
Thank goodness Culver's has stretched into more states, right? The delicious, melty butter burger is a Wisconsin staple and other other burgers just seem to pale in comparison.
Someone once told me that kringle is like potato chips - you can't eat just one slice. Every time you pass the table it's on, you just steal another piece and suddenly you find you've eaten half the ring. This Danish specialty is pretty unique to Wisconsin and it's one you don't know how much you'll miss it until you don't have it anymore.
8. New Glarus Beer
Spotted Cow gets all the love, but frankly New Glarus makes a ton of beer that's way more tasty than Spotted Cow. Their lambic fruit beers are some of the most interesting beers on the market and I find myself longing for one when I've been away for too long.
9. Fried Cheese Curds
Yes, these are a totally separate category than fresh curds. Because they can be frozen, you can find them more places, but I still find myself longing for the fresh battered ones at places like the Old Fashioned or Lakefront Brewery. That melty, cheesy goodness is so much a part of home.
10. Door County Fish Boil
The fish boil is so intrinsically tied to Door County that not having one makes you feel like you've missed out on fall. That delicious, locally caught white fish is quite the meal and finishing it off with some sort of Door County cherry dessert is just perfect.
11. Secret Stadium Sauce
For many, a sausage isn't a sausage without Secret Stadium Sauce on it. Lucky for us it's now in bottles and sold at local grocery stores, but at Miller Park, it's on tap right there next to the ketchup and mustard. One taste of the tangy sauce and you could close your eyes and almost feel like you're tailgating in the parking lot.
12. Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese
This one will be controversial, for sure, but I'm of the opinion that nothing makes fresh, local apple pie better than a tangy, aged slide of cheddar on top. Sure, you can find this other spots, but nowhere else do you have access to such a wide variety of aged cheddars. It's certainly an unusual combination, but it's one that once you've tried it, you can't imagine why you haven't been eating it that way all along.
13. Brandy Old Fashioned
I suppose it's not technically a food, but if anywhere considered brandy a food group, it's Wisconsin. Old fashioneds have gained in popularity, so you probably no longer have to teach a bartender how to make them. No one loves brandy like we love brandy, and having the perfect old fashioned is like a sip of home.
14. Sprecher Root Beer
For me, it's the honey-sweet taste of Sprecher, but here in Wisconsin, we've actually got a ton of amazing craft sodas, so let Sprecher stand in for whatever local flavor reminds you of summers at home. Whether it's Twigs or Baumeister or JC Grey's, that first sip is nothing but nostalgia.
15. Any Wisconsin Cheese
I'm of the firm belief that folks who've never left Wisconsin have no idea how spoiled we are about cheese. It takes moving away to realize how slim the pickin's are elsewhere. When what we can buy in a gas station surpasses what you can find anywhere in other states, you know you've got it good. Not only do we have the quality, but we've got the quantity. Good luck finding anything beyond cheddar and mozzarella elsewhere. You don't know how good we've got it until it's gone.
What other foods do you crave when you’re missing Wisconsin most? Let us know in the comments!