KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Originally coined by folks from Illinois as a derogatory term for visiting Wisconsin sports fans, the term cheesehead has now been thoroughly embraced by all but the most humorless and/or curmudgeonly Wisconsinites. Proving either our amazing good nature or the perverse knowledge that our neighbors to the south can never really fully embrace our term for them (which won't be revealed here in this "family blog").
Fact is, Wisconsin is known for making cheese. That's the way it is. So what the hell. Get over it. Accept it. Welcome it. Salute it. Fly that flag, sister. And revel in the existence of such undeniably cheesy places as the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Opened in 1947 (don't ask me where the Mars comes from), it beckons unsuspecting travelers on I-94 just north of the Wisco-Illinois border like our own cheesemaking version of the Sirens of Greek mythology. Inside you'll find a cornucopia of Wisco kitsch including a tavern like Grandpa used to go to and your quintessential tacky-tourist gift shop with enough kringles, curds, kolacky and summer sausage to clog your arteries for decades.
Best of all, they'll even serve you up a big gooey grilled cheese sandwich just like Mom used to make... if, of course, she was a good cheesehead mom like mine and all of my friends growing up on that good, easygoing, cheesehead side of the border.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published March 26, 2010 in the Journeys in Sight & Sound blog, and is now part of my Shots from the Road collection. -Starling
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in a small Wisconsin blue-collar town, Mike Starling ditched the assembly line for a long, sometimes circuitous career working with words, sound and images. His original music is heard on numerous recordings and soundtracks, and his stories and photos have been featured in books, films, mags and other media. Among his other interesting career moves, he has edited a beer magazine, played bass in a reggae band and sold potato chips door-to-door. Inspired by the life-altering events of 2020, he launched a year-long web-based project called I Remember Travel in January 2021.
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I REMEMBER TRAVEL
Journeys in sight and sound by Mike Starling
All text, images and music in the I Remember Travel weblog ©Mike Starling unless otherwise noted. Music published by Bean Hoy Music (BMI). All rights reserved.