Imagine the opposite of a breath mint, a cheese so oniony and powerful that even mice would retreat into their holes. What you have is America’s own stink mint, a take-off on Limburger that was once known as Liederkranz, named after an all-male New York singing club.
Liederkranz disappeared from the American cheese scene in 1985 but was recently revived by some folks in Wisconsin, DCI Cheese. As my boyfriend cried out after the first bit, “Whoa, this is grandfather cheese!” True, Liederkranz calls to mind hairy-legged men in lederhosen running through the Black Forest. It’s not a cheese for the faint of heart, but then, if you like Raclette, sweat, and the thought of hairy men in lederhosen, chances are you will love Liederkranz.
Given the number of online comments responding to the story of Liederkranz in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – there were only three, but they were enthusiastic – I’m not sure I see a Liederkranz revolution exactly, but I do know there will be at least a few snack-cheese-lovin’ seniors relishing its return.
Liederkranz looks a little bit like a Jersey Cow in the form of Velveeta. When dislodged from its foil wrapping, the surface appears stippled with pale brown markings, and the texture looks creamy. One bite and its pungency shoots across your tongue, where it forms a long-lasting seal across the roof of your mouth. Beefy. Oniony. Barnyardy. Ooo, I quite like it!
The key to enjoying Liederkranz is…well, other people who enjoy Liederkranz. My boyfriend left the house; I didn’t mind having a Liederkranz party for one, but next time I think I’ll call in the stink lovers and serve up plenty of dark beer, rye bread, and pickles. Then we’ll crack the windows, put on some polka, and chomp away.
If you're keen to try this stinky cheese, you can find it for sale online at the West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe. Its distribution appears to be fairly limited. Interestingly, the Liederkranz singing society is still alive. There's even one near my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania -- I highly recommend watching the Lancaster Liederkrantz singing video while you nosh.
Full disclosure: a sample of this cheese was provided by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing board.