Column: Wisconsin’s Traditions Explored and Appreciated


Photo taken by Emerson Bluemke

Emerson Bluemke, Student of Journalism

Wisconsin is rich in tradition and has a wide range of things to be proud of. The list includes: Fish frys, supper clubs, cheese curds and custard.  Unfortunately, many people outside of the state are unfamiliar with these aspects of Wisconsin’s culture. One of the more famous traditions includes the Wisconsin fish fry. These are popular and originate back to The Catholic Church. Throughout Lent Catholics are supposed to give up meat on Fridays, resulting in the “Friday fish” mantra. When I hear of people visiting Wisconsin, I ask if they have had Friday fish.

Furthermore, cheese curds are another popular dish, and original settlers from Switzerland, Germany and other countries in Europe brought the cheese-making recipe to Wisconsin. Additionally, supper clubs have been around for a long time, and were coast to coast during the early 1900s. Compared with other states, Wisconsin is proud of its generational long traditions. Therefore, others need to be informed of these generation-old traditions that made up Wisconsin. 

Friday fish has continued for generations and has become a Wisconsin favorite. The fish is the staple item on Fridays, but so are the side dishes. The fish is the staple item on the menu, but so are the dishes it comes with. I have asked around and there are many things people like to see on their plates along with the fish. Ranging from a baked potato to a lemon wedge, the list continues. Mashed says that the Foxhole Lounge in Racine has the best fish fry. It is a smaller restaurant but has great reviews for the types of fish and side dishes that are served. Fish frys have been a generational tradition that is rich in Wisconsin culture and will continue to be a staple for all natives to come. 

Cheese Curds are a big appetizer and side dish in Wisconsin. What’s Cooking America states,  “By 1922, there were more than 2,800 cheese factories in the state. Wisconsin produces over 2 billion pounds of cheese per year…” There are two different types of cheese curds- deep-fried or fresh. Deep-fried cheese curds are more likely to be found on a restaurant menu. On the other hand, fresh cheese curd can be found at the store or farmers market are the cheese by itself. If a fresh cheese curd is around people may ask if it’s “squeaky” this refers to the sound that is made after the first bite of a fresh cheese curd. Wisconsin is classified as a dairy state because of the number of dairy products, like cheese, that we make each year. Many people out of state are unfamiliar with the cheese curd craze, but as soon as they bite into one, it is apparent why cheese curds are a popular choice in Wisconsin. 

Another popular Wisconsin tradition has been popular for years, supper clubs. Travel Wisconsin says, “…but popularity faded as new dining trends and competition emerged. Some of that happened in the Badger State, too, but a strong yearning for community and connection, especially in rural areas, helps the tradition thrive.”  There are over 250 supper clubs in Wisconsin and the old-fashioned environment makes it feel comfortable for all the guests who enter. 

Wisconsin has held its roots in a lot of old-time traditions that make the state great. Ranging from cheese curds to supper clubs, there is a history behind every small Wisconsin tradition.