Obviously. They don’t call us Cheeseheads for nothing. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association has been around for more than 123 years. We have a Cheese Trail. We have a cheese festival. We practically invented curds, quark, and specialty cheeses (my favorite is morel mushroom and leek jack). You can even win $15,000 for the best grilled cheese in the state. Plus, if you don’t like cheese, we throw you out of the state… so you kind of HAVE to be addicted.
2. Specialty drinks
This addiction is a three-parter. Beer first. Sure, we’ve got Miller and Leinies, but we also have New Glarus, craft brews that don’t leave the state on principle. Once you’ve had a Spotted Cow, you never go back to the subpar stuff. Next up—brandy old fashioneds. It’s practically our state cocktail, and most commonly enjoyed on Friday nights. Lastly, bloody marys. This one goes hand-in-hand with #5 on this list, food on a stick. Our bloodies are meals in a glass, sporting everything from the standard pickle and olive to sliders, lobster claws, nachos, cheese curds, bacon, sausage… and the list goes on. Oh, and don’t forget the beer chaser. It’s our trademark.
3. Fish Fries
On Fridays in Wisconsin, you can’t walk ten feet without the sweet scent of beer-battered fish. It began as a cheap meal for Fridays during lent, but has evolved into a culture and way of life of its own. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, Friday is for fish fries. Note: These are often served with a brandy old fashioned. See #2.
4. Polite Drivers
Full disclosure: I spent my formative years in Chicagoland. But now I’m a Wisconsinite, and I’m never going back—I wouldn’t be able to stomach the traffic once I cross the state line. And that goes for ANY state line. Wisconsin drivers are the epitome of politeness. Left turn goes first. Move over to let someone behind you pass. We don’t tailgate. We don’t excessively speed. Once you live in the land of good drivers, you’ll wonder how you were ever able to handle the roads outside the state.
5. Food on a Stick
If you’ve ever been to the Wisconsin State Fair (hush up, Iowa, ours is the best), you know exactly what I’m talking about. We love food. We love it even more when it’s pierced with a spear so we can walk and eat without getting messy. And we get pretty creative about it too: spaghetti and meatballs on a stick; biscuits and gravy on a stick; bacon wrapped tater tots on a stick; bacon and cream cheese on a stick; mac and cheese on a stick; DEEP-FRIED PIZZA on a stick. The fair even has an entire menu dedicated to these delicacies called—you guessed it—the food-on-a-stick menu.
This Danish delight originates in Racine, WI, and continues to be popular more than 30 years after the brand was introduced. The recipe itself came into Wisconsin in the 1800s and has not been let out. Kringle pastries are buttery dough stuffed with fruit, nuts, or other gourmet treats, baked until flaky and golden brown. They’re heavenly, and actually considered to be our state pastry. Also, if you work in an office anywhere in Wisconsin, one inevitably shows up on every potluck day.
7. Easy Access to Water
There are more than 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin. And we’re partially bordered by two of the Greatest, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Most of the state’s small neighborhoods were, at one point, resort communities on a lake, and the summer cottages have been converted into houses. No matter where you are in Wisconsin, you’re never far from water and a relaxing swim.