I may have found my home here in Wisconsin. As I travel I-90 and I-94, cheese and meat shops appear on the horizon every now and again. Everything is called a Haus. Cheese Haus. Sausage Haus. When I see two on the same exit, I pull over faster than you can say “who has a big belly?”
The Cheese Haus looks full, but there’s a place called Humbird right next to it, and it has a giant painted sign that seals the deal for me: “Fudge.”
Three ladies are working the place. It looks like they’ve just opened fairly recently. There are giant display freezers, but they’re new, and not especially tight to the walls. Some things have prices, but not all of them. The cash register is brand new, and one of the ladies is working it over like she was Mike Tyson.
I wander down the long section of the store where boxes of cookies and crackers stretch from head to toe. There are knick knacks, cups, pens, cheese graters, wine racks, etc. on the back wall. But when I turn the corner and come back to the front, I find a long refrigerated bin of every kind of cheese you can imagine. Many have “Wisconsin” in front of the cheese type. Wisconsin Longhorn. Wisconsin Gouda. I imagine this is a big selling point when you’ve got a store that relies on highway traffic for its business.
I pick up some Wisconsin Cheddar and some Wisconsin Colby Jack.
At the front, all three ladies are waiting for me. One looks up from the cash register and says, “I hope you’re paying with credit card.”
“You find what you need?” another one says.
Fudge, I think. “Fudge,” I say. “Can I get some Wisconsin fudge?” I imagine that’s pretty funny.
“Uh, we’ve got almond fudge, peanut butter fudge, white fudge. We’ve even got a new cheese fudge.”
“Tina, give him a taste.”
Tina comes out from behind the counter and leads me over to another, smaller cooler. She picks up a giant round roll of fudge and scrapes a cheese grater across the top. It’s just a sliver, but it’s the size of a Monopoly bill.
Tina says, “It’s made with cheddar.”
“It’s good,” I say. “Give me enough for dessert.”
At the front, I give my credit card, and before they run it through the machine, I grab a stick of salami. Then some crackers. I need crackers, good God. How can you have cheese, salami, and fudge, and no crackers.
I pay $79 for all of this. It’s a snack. Isn’t that a lot of money for a snack? Did I mention I’ve been driving all day?