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Swiss Cheese Day brings this cheese to the forefront and gives it the fame it is worthy of! 

History of Swiss Cheese Day

Swiss Cheese has a history that dates back several hundred years, to the 1300s when the people of Switzerland began making their own cheeses. Starting out as more of a soft, cottage style cheese, they eventually were able to master the hard cheeses that they are famous for today.

When the first industrial cheese factory was established in 1815, it increased the ability for cheese production and marketing. As the processes were standardized and then incorporated on a global scale, Swiss cheese grew in popularity and availability.

And, even though many places throughout the world might make cheese that is similar to the Swiss varieties, some labels help consumers see if the cheese they are buying truly does come from Switzerland.

Swiss cheese that is made entirely in one region of Switzerland comes with a special label that indicates this specialty. The label is called the Appellation d’Origine Protégée or AOP label, and only ten varieties of Swiss cheese actually carry this label.

Another label that indicates cheese has been made in Switzerland is the IGP (Indication Geographique Protégée) which means that at least one step of the production process has been carried out in the original region.

And though Swiss cheese is certainly exported and has become famous all around the world, the Swiss certainly love to consume their own cheese themselves. In fact, some researchers estimate that more than 185,000 tons of cheese are eaten each year in Switzerland, which is just a bit more than 48 pounds of cheese per person every year!

Swiss Cheese Day was established to celebrate everything that goes along with this delicious and classic cheese that is beloved all the world around. This is the day to enjoy, appreciate and learn about everything that has to do with Swiss Cheese.

Swiss Cheese Day Timeline

5500 BC

Earliest evidence of cheesemaking

Strainers are used for cheesemaking in Poland, leaving the earliest evidence humans can find.[1]

14th Century

Swiss cheese is first made 

First made in Switzerland, the cheese is called “emmental”.[2]

Mid-1500s

Swiss cheese grows in popularity

Once they got a handle on how to store it, the Swiss could keep and export their cheeses, making them popular all over Europe.[3]

1800

Monks feed Swiss cheese to Napoleon’s troops

As Napoleon was leading his troops through the Swiss Alps, they stop at a hostel where monks feed them 1 ½ tons of cheese – and it took 50 years for them to get paid for it!

1914

Swiss Cheese Union starts

Serving as a sort of cartel to control cheese production, this governing body lasts until 1999 due to corruption. [4]

How to Celebrate Swiss Cheese Day

Enjoy the delicious and classic flavors of this delightful cheese on Swiss Cheese Day. Get ready to celebrate the day with some of these fun ideas:

Cook with Swiss Cheese

Starting with something simple like a deli sandwich with sliced items to dip in fondue, Swiss Cheese Day is just the time to cook with this healthy and tasty cheese. Try out some of these culinary ideas for celebrating the day:

  • French Onion Soup. This delicious dish is perfect for eating in the winter time and is perfectly complemented with a slice of Swiss cheese just melted right into the bottom with the croutons.
  • Reuben Sandwiches. Rye bread, corned beef, Russian dressing, Sauerkraut and Swiss cheese are an absolutely ideal combination for this hot sandwich.
  • Ham and Swiss Potato Casserole. Nothing goes better with Swiss cheese than ham. Put it together in a casserole with potatoes and bake it until the ham is hot and the cheese is super melty. Yum!
  • Chicken and Swiss Makeover. Chicken breasts stuffed with Swiss cheese and covered in cream of chicken soup, and then sprinkled with cracker crumbs. Bake this dish to perfection and serve with a side of cheesy broccoli or cauliflower.

Learn About the Health Benefits of Swiss Cheese

Just one slice of Swiss cheese brings a whole host of many different health benefits. Actually, as cheeses go, Swiss is one of the healthiest of the cheeses. Check out some of these health benefits of Swiss cheese:

  • Calcium

    With 25% of the daily value of calcium, just one slice of Swiss cheese can be very healthy for building strong bones and teeth.

  • Vitamin B12

    A slice of Swiss cheese offers 16% of the daily value of this vitamin.

  • Protein

    Even vegetarians can get the protein they need with this cheese that provides 7.5 grams of protein in one ounce.

  • Zinc

    Swiss cheese contains around 1 milligram of zinc, which is just under 10% of the daily recommended allowance of zinc for an adult. And zinc is important because the body can’t store it, so it needs to be consumed every day.

Learn Fun Facts About Swiss Cheese

In honor of Swiss Cheese Day, take a look at some of these interesting bits of trivia that might be fun to share to raise awareness and get other people excited about this glorious day:

  • Germany consumes a large amount of Swiss cheese. Of those countries who receive Swiss cheese as an import, Germany is the largest consumer of it—at almost 50% of all the cheese exported by Switzerland.
  • People who are lactose intolerant can still enjoy Swiss cheese. Some varieties of Swiss cheese, such as some of the harder versions, including Le Gruyère and Emmentaler, contain 0% lactose because it is broken down in the process of production.
  • Some cheeses need extra time to mature. While hard cheeses may be ready to eat after as little as four months, some Swiss cheese, like the Sbrinz variety, is best when it has two to three years to mature in the cheese cellar.
  • Swiss cheese has more than 450 varieties. Nearly half the milk in the country of Switzerland is turned into cheese and some of the more common varieties include Gruyère, Emmental, Raclette, and Appenzeller.

Make Plans to Visit the Gruyères Cheese Festival

Although it doesn’t take place until later in the year when the weather warms up, the Gruyères Cheese Festival is celebrated in this medieval little town. Swiss Cheese Day would be the perfect time to start making plans to attend the Swiss Cheese Festival that takes place in the town.

Join in on the fun of celebrating Swiss Cheese with traditional music, cheese tasting events, and cheese making demonstrations that are all part of the fun. Flag throwers and Alpine horn blowers add to the festivities when celebrating this Swiss culture.

Swiss Cheese Day FAQs

Why does Swiss cheese have holes?

When carbon dioxide bubbles form in the cheese, it creates holes.[1]

Is Swiss cheese healthy?

Swiss cheese is actually known for being one of the most healthy cheeses with low lactose, fat and sodium. [2]

What does Swiss cheese taste like?

Swiss cheese has a flavor that is mild, sweet and nutty. [3]

Does Swiss cheese melt?

Yes! Good quality Swiss cheese melts well, but low-quality substitutes might tend to be a bit oily.[4]

Does Swiss cheese have lactose?

As cheeses go, Swiss cheese is relatively low in lactose. Usually from 0 to 3.4% lactose.[5]

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