While you can find eggnog, ham, and holiday chocolates all over the US this time of year, Wisconsin celebrates the holidays with a few unique dishes of its own. Here are nine foods and drinks that signify it’s the holiday season in Wisconsin.
1. Holiday cheese board
You know it’s the holiday season when Wisconsin cheese takes on a fancier flare. Gone are the days when you grabbed a cheddar cube from the fridge anytime you wanted. This time of year, our favorite cheeses are placed out on a plate or board, probably in the shape of a Christmas tree.
2. Fried turkey
More than just a Thanksgiving staple, fried turkey is a Wisconsin favorite all season long. Legend has it that Wisconsinites were the first to stick a beer can in a turkey and fry it. Whether that’s true or not, you know it’s still the best way to cook a turkey.
3. An old fashioned or two
We love an old fashioned all year long, but there’s something about this boozy brandy drink that makes us love it even more in the winter. Maybe it’s the rich caramel color, the bright red Door County cherry, or the way it warms your chest after just one sip.
4. Marinated venison
With deer hunting season coinciding with Thanksgiving, venison is the meat of choice in December in Wisconsin. Nothing warms you up on a cold winter night during the holidays like a plate of slow-cooked marinated venison. Initially, that is. In an effort to empty the freezer of all the deer meat, you’ll be sick of it by the end of the year.
5. Cranberry sauce
We harvest more cranberries than any other place in the US, and during the winter, we probably eat more than anyone, too. It wouldn’t be the holiday season in Wisconsin without cranberry sauce. Scooped on top of turkey and stuffing, this tart gelatin is a holiday staple.
6. Apple pies
When you catch a whiff of cinnamon and brown sugar wafting through the air you know it’s officially the holiday season, and, more importantly, you’ll know a warm apple pie is in the works.
7. Seven-layer bars
Chances are your mom makes some variation of seven-layer bars, or magic bars, for the holidays. Everyone uses graham crackers, nuts, chocolate, and sweetened condensed milk in their recipes, but some add coconut flakes, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, raisins, and more to perfect their family’s version of this holiday sweet.
8. Cheesy potatoes
It’s not the holidays without a big bowl of sliced potatoes dripping in cheese. Every family has a recipe and preferred type of cheese. If we’re being honest, the potatoes are just a vessel for delivering hot, gooey cheese to your mouth.
9. Cannibal sandwich
Raw beef sandwiches stacked with onions is Wisconsin’s version of steak tartare and is an annual concern for the Center for Disease Control. The fact that it’s also called “tiger meat” doesn’t help its image. Even so, it’s delicious enough for many people to make it a holiday tradition.