Is Milwaukee Not Cheesy Enough?!

Some lawn care company thinks not.

Here’s the deal: Companies send us these weird “studies” all the time, hoping that we’ll write an article about them and gin up some press. Usually, that strategy doesn’t work, but today, a company called LawnStarter got the best of us.

An email appeared in my inbox titled: “Milwaukee is the No. 9 Best City for Cheese Lovers.” And I thought, “Unless all eight cities that beat us are also in Wisconsin, this is some Grade A, FDA-Certified nonsense.”

Incensed by this balderdash, I clicked on the “study” to examine their city rankings. According to the study, the No. 1 city for cheese lovers is New York. (To be fair, that makes some sense considering all the rats they have.)

Now, I’ll admit that the No. 2 city is a good pick and worthy of this list – Madison. I’m down with that finding, LawnStarter.

But the rankings for No. 3-8 I am not down with, not in the slightest: Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle and Santa Rosa, California. 



Join Milwaukee Magazine and Quad for the third-annual Unity Awards Event on March 8 from 6:30-9 p.m. at GATHER in the Deer District.

Foamation cheeseheads; Photo by Tom Grimm

There is just no way those places are better for cheese lovers than Milwaukee. No way.  Maybe they like cheese. Heck, maybe they like like it. But these places do not know the fiery, passionate, occasionally obscene love that we have for it. Have any one of those places ever fashioned an iconic hat in tribute to cheese? Did the tourism board at any of these cities create a virtual pass exclusively to promote the sale and appreciation of curds of cheese? I think not. 

Each city was scored across four categories for the study: Access, Quality, Affordability and Community. We scored well in Quality because hell yeah we did. But we scored poorly in Community, not all that great in Access, and outright badly in Affordability compared to the other top-ranked cities.

Is our cheese really not affordable? I don’t buy that. I’ve been eating an almost alarming amount of muenster over the past few months (I find that it calms the mind during my increasingly frequent episodes of cosmic dread), and I can afford all that top-quality cheese pretty easy on a journalist’s salary.

According to the study, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles all have more affordable cheese than us, which is a claim I flatly reject. You want to blow your nose in LA, you better be ready to cough up 15 bucks for a tissue, and this study is going going to try to tell me cheese in LA is more affordable than in Milwaukee?! Nope. Nah. Not in my book. 

The study determined its four categories by scoring 10 weighted factors. One of the highest weighted factors was cheese shops per square mile.

First, allow me to digress. If we’re weighting cheese shops so highly, Kenosha should be a top ten city, no doubt. They have an actual cheese castle, which should count for, like, eighteen measly shops. But anyway.

Mars Cheese Castle exterior
The exterior of the newly expanded Mars Cheese Castle; Photo by Emanuel Rios

The study also considered fondue restaurants per square mile, mac and cheese vendors per square mile, number of Cheesecake Factory locations, the average per-pound price of local cheese, the number of cheese-related events and festivals, the number of cheese and wine meetup groups and more.  

I think one of the issues with this study is what scholars like to call fancy-pantsery. Maybe we don’t have as many fondue restaurants as New York, or as many “cheese and wine meetup groups,” but that’s because we don’t need ’em! We live the cheese. We breathe the cheese. We’re not meeting up with little glasses of cabernet to sip and savor. We’re just munching away, loving that cheddar and living that life. 

Also, why are they counting Cheesecake Factory locations? I have nothing against the place, but I do not think the number of locations in a given area really has much of a bearing on how friendly the city is to cheese lovers. I have never been to a cheesecake factory in my entire life, and I love cheese more than anything (…which maybe explains why I’ve never been able to hold down a relationship for more than a month at a time).

All right, this article is already over 700 words, which is way too much to devote to a “study” devised by a lawn care company. You got me, LawnStarter, with your catchy subject lines and outrageous claims about my city’s love of cheese. Well played.

In summation, Milwaukee is the No. 1 City for Cheese Lovers in my heart – and also in reality.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.