Top 7 Guilty Pleasures of Wisconsin: Cheese, Celebrities, and Creepies

In keeping with the week’s trend, featuring Wisconsin writer Jay Gilbertson, I’m sharing my favorite guilty pleasures of my home state!

1.  Four Seasons

For all it’s snowy faults, Wisconsin has some beautiful springs, summers, and falls.  My favorite season of them all is autumn.  It has a wide range of colors that for at least a few weeks make our entire state look golden.

The Start of Autumn in the Bluffs

2.  Cheese Curds

A Wisconsin summer staple, cheese curds of many forms and flavors can be found at almost any restaurant or festival in Wisconsin.  After all, we are the Dairy State.  In their raw state, they are essentially the firm portions of soured milk, and they squeak when you eat them.  Nowadays you can get them in a variety of cheese and seasons; they are mainly found in cheddar and mozzarella, and sometimes infused with dill, jalapeno, garlic, sundried tomato etc.

More often found at the carnivals is their fried version.  Breaded and fried to perfection, then served with ketchup, ranch, or marinara to taste.  Delicious and not good for you, but so worth it!

Cheese Curds (

Fried Cheese Curds (

3.  The Green Bay Packers

Cheese curds aren’t the only reason we’re called Cheeseheads!  I didn’t start out a football fan, but you’ll probably learn to love it.  We have too many sports bars and wing nights to escape it!  Plus, now that I’m a football watcher, I love razzing Mark and Pam when their teams lose!  Sorry guys!

There’s my guy! Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (

4.  Chris Farley

One of best people to come straight from our capital!  You all know him from Saturday Night Live and films like Tommy Boy, Chris Farley isn’t so much a guilty pleasure, as he is a comic god.  When you watch the first clip, go at least 2 minutes and 18 seconds in, it’s my favorite part.

5.  Festivals

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that Wisconsin is the place for festivals.  Every town in this area has some sort of weeklong festival during the summer.  Just in my area there is Riverfest, Sunfish Days, Butterfest, Apple Fest, Cranberry Fest, the Beer and Cheese Festival, the Folk Festival, the Outdoor Shakespeare Festival, the Storytelling Festival, the Jazz Festival, Irishfest, Freedomfest, and let’s not forget Oktoberfest, America’s largest beer drinking/brat eating German heritage festival, second only to Germany’s actual Oktoberfest.

This seems about right. (

6.  MST3K’s Joel Hodgson

First off, if you know what MST3K stands for, you are awesome in my book!  If not, it means Mystery Science Theater 3,000, and it’s an old show set in space where one man and several robots are trapped and forced to watch terrible sci-fi movies.  However, they make the movies bearable by talking over the films and having their own dialogue or commentary.  Joel Hodgson is one of the hosts, and he came from Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  Check it out!

7.  Urban Legends and Ghost Stories

Linda Godfrey wrote a whole book about the strange things in wisconsin, it’s called Strange Wisconsin, which is actually the sequel to Weird WisconsinCatchy!  I was born in what Godfrey describes as the Circle of Strange.  It’s theorized by Godfrey that my hometown area is known for multiple werewolf sightings!  I blogged about it last summer when I met her at the library, Into the Strange:  Wisconsin’s Paranormal.  Local lore to my new home digs include the Legend of Bat Man, and I guess there’s also a Lizard Man.  For more personal stories about ghosts, check out my October archives, I shared a new ghost story each week!

Wisconsin Very Own Journalist Approved Werewolf Book (

Have I convinced you to come to Wisconsin yet?  C’mon!  We can eat cheese curds and watch movies then go werewolf hunting in the woods!  

What are your favorite guilty pleasures about your home state?


10 responses

  1. You left out the biggest attraction – to a Texan, anyhow: 20 degree cooler days than we’re used to. I’ll be there to sample it a week from Sunday.

    1. I’m bummed you’re just missing Riverfest by 2 days. I was so planning to buy you cheesecurds and watch the water skiing show on the Mississippi! lol. Next time!

  2. The Chippendales Chris Farley sketch is a classic. Haven’t seen it in awhile – thanks for sharing!

    I’m looking forward to razzing YOU this NFL season. Perhaps our teams will meet up for the winner-takes-all game in February?

    When it comes to cheese curds, I’m not a fan. Then again, I’ve never had them fried. Something tells me that would be a much better experience…

    1. We’ll just see about that, Mark! And fried cheese curds are the best! Think mozzarella sticks, but smaller and with cheddar. 😀

  3. Now I want to visit Wisconsin! Love the Packers and those fried cheese curds sound yummy!

    1. I’ll bring the cheese curds, you bring the chocolat au pain! Deal?

  4. Love this, Jess! I do want to go to those festivals! I love summer festivals! And you’ve got Chris Farley–and CHEEEESE! I get cheese curds at our Apple Festival every year–Yum!

    Next summer, for sure, I’m coming to visit you!

    My hometown in NY state has a ton of summer festivals, too. There are at least 3 every week of the summer. We’re known for our apples, as well as NYC. But, my hometown of Syracuse, NY, has an awesome college basketball team-The Syracuse Orangemen, Tom Cruise, Grace Slick and Bob Goldthwait went to school at Syracuse University. Syracuse was home to Richard Gere (his dad was my insurance agent for a long time and my late husband went to school with him), Alec Baldwin’s Mom lives near my Mom. The Baldwin family used to regularly patronize my late hubs restaurant, as did Mel Torme, VP Biden, singer,Jerry Vale, and more I’ve forgotten. Back in the 1940s, Sammy Davis Jr and his dad and uncle performed at my Grandfather’s nightclub. At our historical theater in downtown Syracuse, The Landmark Theater, we used to have a Syracuse Walk of Fame. The guy who ran it was a friend, so I was on the committee to bring in all the celebs who either had lived in Syracuse or went to S.U. The guy who was Jerry Seinfeld’s friend’s dad–his name escapes me–he was a Syracusan, too. There are more, I’m know, but I can’t seem to put my hands on the right file in my brain today to pull up all of them.

    Really not trying to one-up you, but some freaky twist of fate linked all these people to my hometown and it’s been fun meeting most of them.

    Also, we have the Woodstock Museum on the site of the Woodstock Festival, the Sleepy Hollow legend began not far from where I live now….okay, that’s enough outta me.

    Really looking forward to visiting Wisconsin!

    1. I didn’t know about your family owning a night club! Why does that not surprise me? You totally grew up playing dice in the ally with Elizabeth Taylor didn’t you?! Admit it!

  5. Love this post! I always tell people that Wisconsin is full of culture and is the best state in the nation–glad I’m not the only one who thinks so! Minnesota is just pale in comparison.

    1. LOL. Sucks to your 10,000 Lakes Minnesota!

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