A grilled cheese sandwich can be the perfect comfort food or even a great on-the-go sandwich. April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and what better way to celebrate than to learn about two clubs that have served many sandwiches to hungry event goers for years. From the dairy capital of the U.S., we are getting an inside look at the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill and Badger Dairy Club.
The Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill
August 5-15, 2021
The Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill stand started their fundraiser at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2007 and has served sandwiches every year except 2020. Prior to selling sandwiches, they sold blocks of cheese. After consideration, they realized they needed a product fairgoers did not have to carry with them. The first sandwich creations in 2007 were cheddar and swiss, but the group also offered cheese curds and whips.
As crowds grew over the years, the stand began to highlight a sandwich of the day showcasing three other cheeses in their specialty sandwich. The menu now consists of cheddar swiss and one special variety interchanged daily. Their specialty varieties include Gouda, Havarti, and pepper jack. The stand uses local cheese from Sargento.
You can stop by the Wisconsin Products Pavilion, August 5-15, 2021, at the Wisconsin State Fair to grab a hold of this cheesy goodness. Also available are fresh cheese curds from Hennings, Sargento cheese sticks, and Balanced Breaks. The proceeds from the stand go back to supporting dairy promotion at the state fair.
Badger Dairy Club’s Grilled Cheese Stand
September 28 – October 2, 2021
UW-Madison dairy students have helped with World Dairy Expo since it began over 50 years ago. When the Badger Dairy Club was formed a few years later the club began to have more formalized responsibilities. Today, nearly 120 Badger Dairy Club members and UW-Madison students are employed part-time to help set up, manage, and take down the five-day event. It is Badger Dairy Club and UW-Madison Collegiate Farm Bureau’s largest fundraiser selling approximately 30,000 grilled cheeses each year.
The biggest draw to the Grilled Cheese Stand is that it is one of the least expensive food options during World Dairy Expo. For $3, you can get a grilled cheese and chocolate milk shake, the most popular pairing.
For many years, the choice was between American cheese or Swiss. In 2015, Badger Dairy Club partnered with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to feature a specialty Wisconsin cheese each day. American cheese still wins as the crowd favorite, but Swiss and the specialty cheeses are not far behind. The American and Swiss are donated by the Associated Milk Producers Inc., which has multiple locations in Wisconsin, and the other specialty cheeses that change from year-to-year also wear the “Proudly Wisconsin Cheese” badge.
The club serves customers between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at their stand located between the Coliseum and Arena Building. If you stop by in the mornings, you will have the option to get a grilled ham and cheese. The funds go towards educational opportunities, agriculture promotion, and scholarships.
It is easy to see why Wisconsin is the dairy capital of America. And, if you plan to travel to Wisconsin in mid-August or in late September, you will want to make sure you stop by and get a delicious fresh off the grill, grilled cheese sandwich. Both clubs provide excellent local cheeses to craft your own personalized cheesy comfort sandwich.
Thank you to Liz Matzke and Sydney Endres for contributing to this story and how these organizations give back to the dairy community.