Agriculture and dairy farming are major industries in Wisconsin, together with food processing and beer production - although no longer the leader in brewing, there is still a strong tradition and there are plenty of microbreweries.
Wisconsin is a leader in producing milk and dairy products such as cheese - Colby cheese comes from Wisconsin town of the same name - and butter. It is also a major producer in several crops and it is famous for growing ginseng, snap beans, cranberries, tart cherries, maple syrup, and sweet corn for processing, with oats, potatoes and carrots on the side.
Wisconsin can claim to be the origin of the ice cream sundae, created in an ice cream parlor in Two Rivers in 1881 and the first malted milk - a drink made with milk, malted milk powder and ice cream - made in 1887 in Racine.
Ice cream on Sundays
When a customer requested some chocolate syrup - used to make ice cream sodas - on top of his ice cream, it did not take long to be popular to do. The owner of the ice cream parlor started offering other toppings, such as nuts, almost immediately. Then a neighboring town started offering fancy ice cream treat but only on Sundays, the spelling was mysteriously changed and it became known as a sundae.
With German immigrants came the bratwurst and they eat a lot of these in Wisconsin, together with cheese. Swiss cheese is as popular as Colby and restaurants serve cheese curds, usually deep fried. Cheese curds can be bought at grocery stores to cook home - cheese curds look like farmer's cheese but with larger, more irregular chunks. Grilling is always a favorite way to prepare food and outdoor grilling remains popular even in winter. Of course, wash all that grilled stuff with beer.
People organize tailgating parties before games and memorabilia for the Milwaukee Brewers (baseball) and Green Bay Packers (American football) includes tailgating picnic essentials. If you attend one of the Packers games, try a cannibal sandwich then - the word cannibal refers to raw meat but rest assured, it is beef.
If visiting Door County, enjoy the cherry pies and jellies made with the red cherries grown in the area, and try also the local cherry wine. Fish boils are also especially popular in Door County. Wisconsin is not the land of the ten thousand lakes but with it comes close behind with its eight thousand plus. Fishing is a popular activity all over Wisconsin, no only sport, and towns, organizations and charities host fish boils or fish fries. Many do it as a regular event, often weekly, and some do it on seasonal basis.
Freshly caugh fish is cut into chunks and thrown into big vats of boiling water. The fish is seasoned with herbs and spices and often potatoes are boiled together with the fish. Guests are invited to come in advance to watch the fish being cooked and once, the food is ready, people line up with plates to be served, school cafeteria style.
…and food events
Chocolate Festival, Burlington, May - Ethnic festivals in towns and cities, especially German and Polish.