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Coolhunting Weird Wisconsin Ep 2: A Trip To Mars (Cheese Castle)

First Posted: 09/12/11 02:59 PM ET Updated: 11/12/11 05:12 AM ET

Mars Cheese Castle

Wisconsin cheesemakers like to play Frankenstein, churning out products in bizarre forms and flavors.

Some of the wildest dairy experiments are sold under the turrets of Mars’ Cheese Castle (2800 120th Ave, Kenosha WI; 800-655-6147).

Just 30 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, the 24,000 square foot stronghold looks like it’s carved from cheddar — drawbridge and all.

In this episode of my Huffington Post Travel TV show, two guards yell “Halt!” as I walk in. The tension mounts to an epic stare-down.

Check out the previous episode, Bondage And Balloons At Don Q Inn

But in truth, the family members that run the store are the friendliest folk you’ll meet.

Tyson Wehrmeister whisks me around his kingdom, insisting that I try a taste of everything. The video captures my surprise at chicken soup cheese and squeaky curds.

The decorative cheese, shaped and colored like cows, was too cute to eat. For Brewers fans, there were even cheddar baseballs and gloves.

I’ll admit I was hesitant about “chudge,” or chocolate cheese fudge. (It tastes better than it sounds.) And turtle kringle, a Nordic
pastry. (Not actually made from turtles, thankfully.)

At the bar, regulars chattered over mugs of local beer. The grilled cheese station brought back memories of childhood lunches.

With blow-up cows, racy hot sauces and hand-puppets, the gift shop was the cheesiest part of the castle. Or should I say...wait for it...“udderly ridiculous.”

What makes the castle a gem? The Ventura family, who make it personal: handing balloons to kids, hanging at the bar, passing around generous samples. Despite the big new location, Mars’ still feels like the warm family shop from 1947.

Now that’s cool.

Stay tuned for our next quirky location!

What’s the strangest cheese you’ve ever sunk your teeth into?

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Filed by Chris C. Anderson  |