Wisconsin November 18, 2017
This Tiny Town in Wisconsin Is The Original Cheese Capital And You’ll Want To Visit
Plymouth is a small town of about 8,500 people in the east-central part of the state
— near Sheboygan. You wouldn’t realize it from looking at a map, but about 15 percent of all cheese produced in the United States is handled here. From production facilities to large cold storage warehouses, Plymouth is frankly just full of cheese. With a rich history in our state’s most well-known industry and a beautiful, walkable downtown area for you to explore, Plymouth is a perfect spot for a weekend trip.
Wisconsin produces more than a quarter all cheese made in the US — if Wisconsin were a country, it would be the fourth largest cheese producing country in the world. And tiny Plymouth is a huge player in that very large business.
No one knows exactly why Plymouth became such an epicenter of cheese production. It makes sense as it has access to farmland, and is close to a port in Sheboygan, but mostly it just comes down to some folks that happened to live there.
Two big names in US cheesemaking — Joseph Sartori and Leonard Gentine Sr. — merged their names and in 1953 founded Sargento. Before they joined forces, Gentine opened a cheese counter in Plymouth in 1949 that's still in business. Everntually, Sartori sold his portion of Sargento and opened his own eponymous cheese company. Gentine's and Sartori's still run both companies in Plymouth and family members are involved in other cheese companies in Plymouth.
Satori, Sargento, Masters Gallery Foods, and Great Lakes Cheese all have headquarters or factories here. There is more than 300,000 square feet of cold storage for cheese in Plymouth.
One of the coolest bits of cheese history in Plymouth was the Wisconsin Cheese Exchange, a revolutionary trading group that made sure that small farms and production facilities could get their product out to those who needed it before it expired. The exchange eventually moved to Green Bay and then Chicago, but it was an awesome idea that helped make cheese production in Wisconsin viable.
Plymouth is quite proud of their cheese history. There are murals around town depicting different important events and the town has embraced their role as a cheese capital of the world.
The town itself is beautiful, with a fully walkable downtown area with tons to see, do, and explore.
Every bit of this town has ties to cheese — Plymouth Brewing Company's building used to house a business that manufactured items for the cheese industry. Now you just get to enjoy the beautiful building while sipping on some delicious beers.
Stay at 52 Stafford, a charming Irish Inn with stunning stained glass windows, beautiful rooms, and a delicious in-house restaurant.
The city's newest addition is the Dairy Heritage Center. This brand new facility has three floors dedicated to cheesemaking, specifically focusing on what is done right there in Sheboygan county.
From hands-on learning and tons of history to fun interactive areas for kids, as well as a shop selling cheese from the area, a lunch counter serving grilled cheese and a demonstration kitchen, this building has it all.
Plymouth is a charming, quaint Wisconsin small town with a ton of history and a huge impact in the world cheese market — you definitely should plan a trip here soon.
Looking for more Wisconsin cheese?
Plan to take this amazing cheese road trip.