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Switzerland first realized the benefits of producing cheese in a factory setting in 1815, producing large enough quantities to sell to the community. This was a profitable idea, since most people at the time were working hard to make their own cheese at home amidst all their other labors, so cheese was usually a rare treat. Once it was manufactured on a larger scale, however, more people were able to enjoy cheese on a regular basis.
The success of cheese manufacture in Switzerland inspired the same in the America. During the 1600s, Puritan women brought their home cheese-making skills with them when they immigrated to America from England. At that time, it was mainly the women who made the cheese, using the cream of the milk for butter making and the skim milk for cheese making. It was challenging and tedious work. So when the first American cheese factory opened in Wisconsin in 1851, American women were overjoyed at the idea of being able to simply buy the cheese they had always made themselves.
Cheese making remained a common process for farms (especially dairy farms) for the first several years after that first American factory opened. But one by one, cheese factories were built across America. Typically mom-and-pop producers, these small cheese factories sprouted up in towns near dairy factories, selling cheese to busy families who gratefully spent a little extra to buy ready-made cheese.
In Wisconsin, as crops struggled to grow with erosion and soil depletion problems, dairy and livestock farms fast became the norm. Wisconsin has been a central hub for dairy products ever since. In 1868, a small cheese factory opened in a little log house in Green County. Five local dairy farmers provided the milk for the cheese production and the economy swelled with the success of the fledgling company. Green County, Wisconsin has remained a major focus of cheese production from that time forward.
Cheese manufacture quickly took off, outgrowing its roots in farm production and moving into massive manufacturing. As the railroads came into Wisconsin, they brought greater demand for Wisconsin cheese and more business for the dairy farmers and jobs for the locals. From that point forward, the cheese business only grew ever larger until it became what it is today. Cheese is as much a part of American history as it is a part of the American diet.