Great story, great history, great cheeses!
There is a special place in our hearts for Plymouth Artisan Cheese! Not only they are a great bunch of people, who make great cheeses, but they make their cheeses in a quaint and historic place (I love history)… and they were our first retailer!
Since 2009, Jesse Werner and his team have been making Plymouth cheese at Plymouth Notch, by hand and in small batches, using a recipe virtually identical to the one developed by John Coolidge, the father of Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States! Indeed, his cheese factory is one of the oldest cheese-making facilities in the United States.
The story starts more than 100 years ago.
Let’s go back in time to 1890: Plymouth Notch is a small, remote hamlet in Central Vermont, with a community church, a one-room schoolhouse, a general store and about 800 inhabitants. There, John Coolidge, a dairy farmer, decides to make cheese as a way to use excess milk. Making cheese the way the first settlers to the New World made it, he creates Plymouth Cheese, a raw cow milk cheese, a bit similar to cheddar. The cheese will quickly acquire a reputation which will reach Boston and beyond.
It’s in the summer of 1923 that Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President of the United States (by his own father) in his family home, just a few steps away from his father’s cheese factory.
Unfortunately, a few years later (1934), the impact of the Great Depression finally forces John Coolidge to close the cheese factory.
But the story of Plymouth Cheese is far from over. It’s another John Coolidge, the grandson of the first John Coolidge, who decides that cheese making will always be part of the historic village of Plymouth Notch! In the 1960s, he updates and reopens the factory and will make cheese there until he finally sells the facility to the State of Vermont in 1998. He is 92 at the time, and the deal includes a specific clause that the building will always be used to as a place to make cheese! Here it is: the State of Vermont will need to find cheesemakers willing to come to Plymouth!
Nowadays, that cheesemaker is Jesse Werner, and he makes wonderful cheeses. With a degree in sociology, an MBA and a certificate in cheese making, it seems that Jesse has a lot of tools in his toolbox to be successful! Today, he makes Plymouth Cheese, of course, but he also manufactures a couple of delightful blue cheeses, a great Tomme, and lovely cheese curds. And his packaging is superb!
It is not surprising that Oprah had his Plymouth Cheese gift box (6 cheeses) on her Favorite Things 2015 list!
We wish him every success for years to come.