The same cow greets you as when I was a kid at the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook on the Oregon coast. But the building has grown and modernized several times over. Today, the factory sees over a million visitors every year.
Dairy farming began in this area in 1854 with a few farmers. They built a sailing ship, “The Morning Star” to carry their products to Portland to sell. A replica of this boat stands in front of the factory today and is displayed on the company logo.
Peter McIntosh, a chedder maker from Canada, was hired to bring his skills to the area. His talents and influence soon brought him the name of “Cheese King of the Coast.” In fact his skills began winning dairy product contest all across the nation.
The original Tillamook Cheese factory was built in 1940. In the 1950′s a small cheese shop was opened to the public. In 1979, an expansion included an observation area, an educational slide show, a museum, a deli and fudge counter, and an ice cream dipping counter.
Today you can still observe the cheese making and packaging processes through large viewing windows. Movies shown on television screens tell the history and explain the cheese making process. And what would a factory tour be without a sampling station. The day I went we got to sample pepper cheese, an aged white cheddar, regular cheddar and squeaky cheese. What, you might ask, is squeaky cheese? It’s cheese curds. Tastes kind of like mozzarella. You can find cheese curds in nicer grocery stores.
They also have a nice deli and of course, Tillamook ice cream. My flavor was lemon blueberry. Yummm. Then it was off to the gift shop. They have one of the nicest gift shops I’ve ever been in. There is a food side where you can purchase a wide variety of diary products plus other “made in Oregon” products. Then there’s the non-food side. I found this eco bunny made from a coconut shell. He’s quite adorable as you can see.
For more information on the Tillamook Cheese Factory, check out their website. If you go, don’t forget to try out the squeaky cheese.