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A History of the Sad Demise of Liederkranz Cheese!

Oh, Liederkranz, Mein Liederkranz!!

"Liederkranz" in German means literally "wreath of song", and - by allusion - to "Song Circle." For the past century or three in Germany itself, it has specifically referred to an (all male) singing and drinking club (not necessarily in that order!). There have long been lots of those clubs and those activities in Germany.

With the wave of German immigration to the US in the last century came the next generation of Liederkranzlers, who - homesick for a traditional munchie to wash down with all that beer and song - about 1880 commissioned a cheesemaker in NYC to do his best to replicate their beloved Limburger.

The cheesemaker couldn't, alas, recreate Limburger in an alien land. Instead, to the wonderment and awe of everybody ever since, he came up with something MUCH, much better, which he dubbed, in honor of his patrons: Liederkranz!!

This went on swimmingly for a few decades until the cheesemaker apparently met his own expiry date, and the franchise somehow wound up in the clutches of the Borden Corporation, which instantly (and - sic - Kraftily) attempted to "outsource" production to some godforsaken part of Wisconsin (where labor was cheaper and dairy cows were more cheaply, more conveniently, to hand, so to speak).

God is Just (though She may not always pay close enough attention): the stuff produced at the Wisconsin plant initially fell pathetically short of anything anywhere near the standards by which even a mediocre Limburger is judged, much less the celestial qualities of the ineffable, inestimable Ur-Liederkranz.

In fact, so dismal were these results (and the ensuing implosion of sales revenues), that Borden had to go back to Manhattan and (literally!!) scrape the irreplaceable grunge off the walls of the cheesemaker's original cellar, in order to obtain the precious culture. They then repaired in haste back to Wisconsin, where they frantically undertook to smear it all over the walls and ceilings of their own corporate curing rooms.

This protean effort worked! As decades passed, Liederkranz again poured forth its gracious bounty upon a grateful public of turophiles, even as Borden was swallowed by Kraft was swallowed by Phillip Morris International (which Bill Gates is probably about to swallow next, and incorporate, inextricably of course, into Win9X.b+), evidently without further deleterious penny-pinching of the recipe meanwhile..

Alas, after a century of unblemished (except for the initial fiasco of the Wisconsin transplant) and sublime production, in 1985, ONE bad batch came forth and had to be recalled. Instead of fixing the problem and bringing the cheese right back on the market, as would any socially and gustatorially responsible organization routinely DO for its devoted clientele, the Borden/Kraft/PMI cartel (in an atrociously selfish and greedy act of non-feasance, malpractice, and Korporate Kowardice unsurpassed by even the usual Fortune 500 and congressional business practice) not only dropped production altogether but sold the franchise, lock-stock-and-barrel, to the New Zealand Dairy Board. Of all places.

Thus, as far as we know (at least according to Kraft's website as of 1998), that has been The Lamentable Fate of Liederkranz...

There are now only two bright spots in this dreary situation:

1) One hopes that at least the New Zealanders have kept alive the strain of microbial critters that turn mere milk into The Legendary Liederkranz .

2) A band of dedicated Faithful Fanz of Liederkranz has formed in North America and is working together to bring about the triumphant "Return of Liederkranz " to its native shores, if still possible. Join the Newsgroup today! "

"Liederkranzlers ", what else?!

Otherwise, we'll all have to move to New Zealand?!

JB Hughes Copyright 1998

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