On the Backroads: The Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin

On the west central edge of Wisconsin, in the center of Pierce County, you’ll find Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you might know them by their product!

In 1984, Governor Anthony S. Earl made them the official Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin. 180,000 pounds of cheese curds are manufactured at the Ellsworth facility daily and cheese curd fans begin to line up just before 11am to purchase the first of the fresh curds produced that day. The rest are packaged and sold in their retail stores, online through their website, and distributed to retailers and restaurants nationally.

A Proud History

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery has come a long way since their early days as a cooperative. The organization incorporated in 1910 with their primary product being butter. The Cooperative didn’t actually begin making cheese curds until 1968, but the popularity of those squeaky white morsels was instantaneous.

Then in 2011 a new chapter was written in the Cooperative’s history book when Comstock Creamery in Comstock joined the Ellsworth Creamery family. For cheese lovers, this was a marriage made in heaven, bringing the Cooperative expanded cheesemaking capabilities and leading to the production of 80 varieties of small-batch artisan cheeses under the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery label.

They are expanding once again—their new state-of-the-art production facility and retail store opened in Menomonie, WI in 2022, allowing the cooperative to further increase production of their award-winning artisan cheese line.

It All Starts On The Farm

The Cooperative is 300 patron families strong and for more than 100 years it’s these farm families from Wisconsin and Minnesota that make their products special. They keep the milk flowing to Ellsworth each day, making all those cheese curds possible. And, it’s the commitment to quality that makes Ellsworth’s cheeses loved around the world and asked for by name.

Shop The Ellsworth Retail Store

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery’s bustling retail store is a popular day trip destination. Visitors find one of the largest selections of Wisconsin-made cheeses in the region; over 240 kinds including Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery’s own varieties. A variety of cheeses available for sampling each day.

Cheese fans will also want to keep their eye open for the many products that feature Ellsworth’s cheeses and cheese curds, including their “take and bake” pizzas. Each holds more than a pound of Ellsworth cheese–including the sprinkle of fresh cheese curds and slice of Muenster across the top. Cheese Curd brats and burgers are popular items during grilling season. And when you’re craving a taste of the state fair, their frozen battered cheese curds are the next best thing—they’re in the frozen food case ready to be fried up crispy and golden at home.

Man can’t live on cheese alone; you’ll find wines and craft beers from the most popular regional wineries and breweries, including New Glarus. Of course, there’s ice cream, too–a premium soft-serve made with real milk and cream, along with freshly made fudge in a variety of flavors. Shoppers will also enjoy their souvenirs, regional gourmet food items, gifts and unique kitchenware.

It’s like a festival all summer

During the summer months guests are greeted by the Curd Wagon. The cooperative’s version of a food truck, the wagon serves up a continuous stream of deep fried cheese curds to guests Thursday through Sunday. It’s like being at your favorite festival or fair, only the lines are much shorter.

For Your Visit!

Make a visit to Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery part of your Pierce County backroads travel
itinerary. Fresh curds are available at the Ellsworth location daily starting at 11 a.m. A farm-scene mural with the headline “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin” is the perfect backdrop for a selfie. Their products can also be purchased online at EllsworthCheese.com. They have an active and growing community of cheese-fans on Facebook (fb.com/EllsworthCheese) where followers hear about new products, promotions, events, and news from the farm.