Monday, June 20, 2011

Guiggsberg Cheese

Our favorite Baby Swiss Cheese is made by Guggisberg located in Charm, Ohio.

Charm is a small village in southeastern Holmes County. Springing up at a rural country crossroad in a farming area of early German (Clark) Township, the town has been situated with a populous Amish community since infancy. From the initial business of a blacksmith shop, ca 1840, along an aged Indian trail, a town developed to become known as Stevenson. After the establishment of a post office in 1885 its name was changed to Charm. Throughout most of the town's years of existence it has been known by its nickname of "Putschtown," meaning "a small clump."

Let me explain a little history of the Guggisberg factory.

Alfred Guggisberg, the founder of Guggisberg Cheese, took an interest in cheese making at a very young age. He was only 16 when he began to study the art of cheese making in the high pastures of the Alps in his home land of Switzerland. He went on to attend the famous Swiss Federal “Molkereishulle” (cheese maker’s institute) to further improve upon his craft. Upon completing his schooling, Alfred spent a number of years making cheese throughout Europe and parts of Africa before coming over to the United States in 1947 in search of a new challenge. It didn’t take long, with his high standard of quality, for Alfred to earn a reputation as an exceptional cheese maker. As a result of his abilities, local Amish farmers, in search of a cheese maker to provide a market for their milk, lured Alfred to the Doughty Valley in Charm, Ohio. The operation that Alfred took over, known then as Doughty Valley Cheese, evolved and became Guggisberg Cheese in 1950.

In the 1960s, after having sufficient time to experiment with the local milk, Alfred was able to develop a new style of Swiss. His objective in doing so was to come up with a taste that was more favorable to the less-developed American pallet. The main differences with this cheese were that it featured smaller “eyes” (holes) and a creamier taste. Alfred’s wife, Margaret Guggisberg, christened the new cheese “Baby Swiss” after she saw a wheel of it next to the much larger wheel of traditional Emmental Swiss.

In 1968 Guggisberg Baby Swiss Cheese was launched and Alfred’s cheese house began producing larger quantities of Baby wheels for the local community. While still in this early stage, Margaret, being the assertive woman that she is, decided to approach the local supermarket (Buehler’s) with some of Alfred’s new cheese. Buehler’s agreed to take in some of this cheese and, within a month, found that it was a good seller and reordered in larger quantities. This relationship helped propel Baby Swiss into popularity, and Buehler’s is still a regular customer today.

With Baby Swiss starting to become an established product, competitors began coming out with their own imitations of the cheese. Their problem was, they didn’t have that secret Guggisberg family recipe, and, as the old adage goes… often imitated, never duplicated! Guggisberg is the original Baby Swiss and the taste has never been mirrored by any of its competition.

In 1983, the restaurant, Chalet in the Valley, was opened. Served there are Swiss, Austrian, and Amish style foods. The restaurant is built in the style of a Swiss Chalet and overlooks the scenic Doughty Valley. Margaret Guggisberg supervised the operation when it opened, and to this day still plays a key role in daily functions. Alfred passed away in 1985, and his son Richard Guggisberg is now president. Under Richard’s leadership the company has grown into one of the larger manufacturers of Swiss cheese in the US, and one of the biggest cheese manufacturers of any sort in all of Ohio. Guggisberg sells to retail and wholesale customers all over the continental United States and Europe.

Mom Meads treated us to lunch at the Der Dutchman Restaurant located in Walnut Creek. This restaurant is part of our family's tradition in this area.

The cooks in the kitchen know that much of the comfort in “comfort food” comes from the way it is prepared, so they use time-honored methods often learned at the elbow of a mother or a grandmother. It’s tradition you can really taste!

Breakfast choices include still-warm cinnamon rolls, fluffy buttermilk hotcakes, homemade biscuits, and golden slices of fried mush with sausage gravy or syrup.

Lunch and dinner feature simple, straightforward classics—chicken, country-cured ham, roast beef and turkey, and chicken potpie. Hearty side dishes include real mashed potatoes, homemade egg noodles, and the freshest tasting creamed corn you’ll ever have the good fortune to eat. There’s also a great Kid’s Menu, with all their favorites, and lighter options, including homemade soups, fresh salads, and sandwiches.

The salad bar at Der Dutchman is as bountiful as a kitchen garden and as colorful as a quilt. Rows of fresh vegetables, fruits, prepared salads, and regional specialties are constantly refilled and refreshed. Just make sure to save room for dessert!

Just a few more comments tomorrow concerning this special area.


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