By: Dr. Kim Leis-Keeling
Last month USA Today reported the countries “Drunkest” Cities. Seven of the top ten cities were in my home state of Wisconsin, while New York only had one city in the top 20. Watertown was listed as number 16 on the list. As we are beginning the celebration of summer I’d like to remind everyone to drink responsibly and please designate a driver. Now, back to this list. Since most of you have never been to Wisconsin, I thought I’d enlighten you as to the culture of this beautiful place.
I don’t think it is any secret of the stereotype that Wisconsin folks love their beer and cheese. Since I am from Wisconsin, I feel that I can spill the beans here. This is true. Wisconsinites love their beer so much that they not only do we drink the beer, we also try to eat it whenever possible. We cook brats in beer, corn on the cob in beer, beer battered fish, beer bread and classic beer cheddar soup. There are entire cookbooks written on how to use beer in recipes…much like cooking with fine wine.
Wisconsin’s major league baseball team is the Milwaukee “Brewers” who play their games in Miller Stadium. You may recognize beers such as Miller Lite or Old Milwaukee beers. There is also a classic beer called Old Style which is brewed in LaCrosse, WI, also the home to the world’s largest six pack. One of my favorite summer beers is Leinenkugal’s Summer Shandy. We locals will refer to this beer as “Leines”. Another brand you may have heard of is New Glarus beers. Did you know that Wisconsinites typically have 2 refrigerators in their houses? Yes, one for food and one just for the beer.
Let’s talk cheese. There is no comparison to Wisconsin cheese. My father used to take me to the cheese factory when I was little to get fresh cheese curds. They literally melt in your mouth when you bite into them. Whenever I go back to Wisconsin, I have visit a local creamery and bring cheese back with me to New York. A few years ago, I decided to really stock up so I bought 15 pounds of cheese and stuffed it into my suitcase. Needless to say, my husband was mortified. He was giving me a hard time about getting through security with all that cheese. I reassured him that we would be fine. Well, we sent our bags through the scanner, the security light goes off and the guys come running. “Whose bag is this?” My husband shoots me this look of death. The guard opens the suitcase full of cheese and begins to question me. I explain to him that it is cheese from Wisconsin…like he should be as excited as I am. He wasn’t! He said that since cheese looks like explosives, we now have to swab every side of every block of cheese! He was obviously annoyed and said, “Don’t they have cheese in New York?” Now I just have the cheese shipped out to my house.
You have heard of this football team called the Green Bay Packers right? Well, everyone in Wisconsin loves the Packers and talks about them like they are their close relatives. Most people are still mourning the recent loss of our beloved Jordy Nelson to another team. The minute you cross the state line, it seems like everyone wears the green and gold Packer gear…hats, shirts, pants, jackets, etc. We are so proud of our Packers…even when they lose. The Packers are the only publicly owned NFL team. The citizens of Wisconsin literally have ownership in the Packers. There is a 40 year waiting list for season tickets. A friend of mine just got his season tickets that his parents signed him up for on the day he was born…43 years ago!
A few other recognizable businesses that originated from Wisconsin are: Kohl’s department stores, Harley Davison Motorcycles, Jack Link’s Jerky, John Deer, Trek Bicycles, Matthew’s Bows (proud to say my nephew works for this company), McPherson Custom Guitars and Kohler bath products. Did you know that many of the countries cranberries are grown in Wisconsin? And if you frequent Trader Joes around the holidays, they carry this danish called the Pumpkin or Almond Kringle, these delicious goodies are from a company in Wisconsin called O&H Danish Bakery. Another brand you may have seen here in New York is a dairy brand called, Organic Valley. They produce organic milk products and they actually have a distribution center in my hometown of Cashton, WI. Whenever I see their products here, I always buy them because I know some of the farmers who produce for this company.
I am a strong supporter of buying local, even if “local” is a thousand miles away. It makes me feel a little closer to home. Maybe you will recognize a few of these brands when considering your purchases. Just know that there is some hard working Wisconsinite making those products. A final reminder to have a safe and enjoyable summer but enjoy your beverages responsibly. As always, if you questions about this article or just want to talk beer, cheese or Packers, please feel free to contact me at the Sports & Spinal Wellness Center at 518-869-3415. Follow us on Facebook or visit our website at www.sportsandspinalwellness.com. Go Packers!