Although the name may sound German, but this is an American cheese. It was created in 1882 (1892?) by Emil Frey, an apprentice cheesemaker in Monroe, New York. He named the cheese after the Liederkranz Club, a singing society, where the owner of the cheese factory had taken the first samples of the new cheese. Liederkranz is a cow's milk cheese, with an edible pale yellow crust, and a semisoft, pale interior with a mildly pungent flavor and distinct aroma.
The Monroe Cheese Company went through various changes in ownership, and and Liederkranz production was also eventually moved to Van Wert, Ohio in 1926. In 1929 the company was sold to the Borden Company. Emil Frey, the creator of Liederkranz stayed with the company through these various changes until he retired in 1938 (he died in 1951).
At the end of 1981, Borden announced it would no longer make natural cheese - they would now only produce 'process cheese.' A few months later the Fisher Cheese Company purchased the Van Wert plant and began to produce Liederkranz. In 1985 there was a problem with contamination of a batch of Liederkranz and several other cheeses, and Fisher withdrew Liederkranz from the market. That was the last batch to be made.
The unique bacterial culture for making Liederkranz is supposed to have been kept alive - but I have also heard it has been lost forever.
I have heard that Beatrice Foods Company now owns the rights to Liederkranz. I have also read that it is owned by the New Zealand Dairy board.
According to an article in the April 9, 2003 issue of the Contra Costa Times (California) the Marin French Cheese Company (a 100% American company founded in 1850 in Marin County California) has produced a wreath-shaped California Liederkranz. I don't know what relation it has to the original Liederkranz cheese.
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