Life is like a box of Swiss chocolates.

Last weekend we visited Norway and had such a great time, we decided to stop by Switzerland next. Or at least the closest thing to Zurich here in America’s Dairyland. That would be New Glarus, Wisconsin, a/k/a “America’s Little Switzerland.”

All we knew about New Glarus was their brewery. It’s the home of Spotted Cow beer, Wisconsin’s home-grown favorite. People are so passionate about this beer, they go to great lengths to obtain it if they don’t live here, because it’s illegal to sell Spotted Cow outside the state. Seriously, a Minnesota bar owner was busted for doing that a few years ago. Last summer, during our “vacation” to Madison – wink, wink – my boss at CenturyCo paid me to bring back a case for him. I don’t think that’s against the law, but if I’m hit with a felony in the next few days for interstate Farmhouse Ale trafficking, you’ll know why.

New Glarus was named after Glarus, Switzerland, a region renowned for its rolling hills dotted with small towns, farms, and woodland pastures. Swiss pioneers settled the town in 1845 and, while they may not have worked very hard at coming up with an original name, the Wisconsin geography is basically identical, so why mess with perfection? Those Swiss immigrants have kept the heritage going strong for 178 years and counting. That’s evident the minute you step out of your car.

It kind of reminds me of Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed village in Washington, but on a much smaller scale.

New Glarus is about an hour west of us, so we left mid-morning and enjoyed a leisurely drive through mostly backroads to get there. We had no real plan other than “drive to New Glarus,” so once that part was done, we sort of sat there in the car wondering what to do next. Turning around and heading back home would have been anticlimactic, so instead we decided to walk around the quaint little downtown.

Our fist stop was a shop that sold novelty items like these.

Did Tara buy the Snoop Dogg cookbook? Fo shizzle. His Wake ‘n Bake Corpse Reviver (gin, Cointreau, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and orange peel for garnish) indeed sounds like it would do the trick, and the Buttermiziilk Pound Cake Cake Cake Cake would surely satisfy any sweet tooth, but we’re most excited for the Baby Got Back Ribs and Mack and Cheese.

Dinner parties at Casa Petruska are gonna be dope.

#punintended

We continued on our way, and spotted the following sign.

“Silvesterchlausen!” I exclaimed.
“Gesundheit,” Tara replied.

You know how Forrest Gump always found himself unexpectedly in the midst of some big, random event? We kinda felt that way yesterday when we learned there would be a parade of costumed Swiss yodelers taking to the streets in less than two hours. Originally we were going to move onto a few other nearby towns after checking out New Glarus, but when the stars align and Fate brings you directly in the path of such frivolity, you don’t question it. Instead, you change up your plans and park your ass inside a bar and grill to pass the time. Preferably one with a leather-clad cow above the door, a leg lamp in the window, and a Bloody Mary and beer chaser on the menu. Through divine intervention, we found a place with all three.

Soon it was 2:00, so we hit the street in search of the masked yodelers. They weren’t hard to find.

Now I feel bad for dragging our Christmas tree to the curb for recycling. I could have turned it into a trendy Swiss outfit! The Grinch ain’t got nothin’ on these guys.

Silvesterchlausen, by the way, originated in Appenzell, Switzerland. These masked persons, known as New Year’s mummers, take to the streets every December 31 to celebrate Saint Sylvester’s Day. I don’t know much about any of that, but any excuse to dress up like Oscar the Grouch is good enough for me.

We find the coolest things, don’t we?

61 thoughts on “Life is like a box of Swiss chocolates.

  1. May I just say… wow. I never knew so many interesting things happened in your part of the world. Leather clad cows are awesome enough, but walking, yodeling Christmas trees celebrating a holiday dedicated to Sylvester Stallone? That rocks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wait a second. What about the Spam Museum? What about the Twine Ball? I’m hurt, Rivergirl. Mark and I may live 5 or so hours apart, but we’re definitely in the same part of the world. 😉 Also – true confessions – I’m writing this to see if it shows up in the comments. I think my recent comments have been going to his spam folder.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Silvesterchlausen sounds like the Burryman Festival/ Parade in Scotland! (Except they have their parade in summer. The costumes are similar, though.) How cool that you got to catch it. Okay, why is it illegal to sell Spotted Cow beer outside of Wisconsin? Does Wisconsin not want their beer to be successful?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is from an article I found:

      The owners say they don’t want — or need — to deal with the byzantine tax and distribution systems that come with selling their beer outside their home state. “There’s no reason,” said New Glarus co-owner Deb Carey. “We’re growing so fast and it’s still hard to keep up with demand here.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. NOOOOOOO – the Spotted Cow brewery is co-owned by someone with the same name as me! Does that make me famous? At least in the state of Wisconsin? 😉

        What I came on here to say was I’d also have snapped up the Snoop Dogg cook book (what a great title) because his Just Eat advert is one of my favourite of all time (and I used to work in advertising). I miss it. You do, indeed, live somewhere very cool and constantly interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Fo shizzle” made me laugh! I’m so glad your wife bought that book. Looking forward to stories about the recipes.

    We’ve enjoyed the beer of New Glarus but never been to the brewery. Sounds like it was just one of several cool stops that day for you.

    And when we named our dog, the choice came down to Banjo and Yodel. We sometimes wish we’d picked Yodel because she talks so much. Now we have to be there for that parade!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought Ohio was all Amish.

      OK, not really. But you know I think your state is cool! The last time I got a haircut, the stylist and I were chatting about moving around as an AF brat, and she asked me where my favorite place to live had been. I told her Ohio. What I love about Wisconsin is…it reminds me of Ohio!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, that’s sweet. There are similarities. I don’t hate it here, but I see it for what it, good folks trying to get along with the conservative elements who hate change.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. OK, that place is pretty cool. If you long for Bavaria and don’t mind a weekend trip (apparently a 6 hour drive from you) I highly recommend Frankenmuth, MI. And if you really, seriously, like Christmas, go to Bronner’s while you’re there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have family in Appenzell. The 🇨🇭 one not the 🇺🇸 spin-off. 😀

    I am now definitely planning a trip to Wisconsin! 🥴

    Wonderful post.

    Also, I lived in 🇨🇭 for 10 years and never came across a yodeler… I think they mostly yodel in the Alps, and I grew up near Zürich which is a metropolitan city. 🤷‍♀️😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? You’re familiar with Appenzell?? That’s awesome! I’m sure yodelers are an American stereotype, but still fun to listen to. These guys nailed it. I had my phone right in front of this guy’s face as he was yodeling, but realized afterward I hadn’t changed the setting from camera to video so I missed the whole thing…

      Like

      1. Well now that you live nearby you can head back for another festival. Switzerland’s birthday is on August 1, so mark your calendar, you’re going to attend the birthday celebrations there! And write about it. 😊🇨🇭😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You always find the best stuff! I’ve visited New Glarus! But it was just me and my first-grader. She and I drove to Madison to visit Ella’s Deli (since closed), and then we continued driving till we were in New Glarus (long story). However, we did not have as much fun as you. 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, you find the coolest things. “Preferably one with a leather-clad cow above the door, a leg lamp in the window, and a Bloody Mary and beer chaser on the menu. Through divine intervention, we found a place with all three.” Hahaha. What’s on that bloody mary? It looks like a pickle. Normally it’s celery, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a pickle spear – quite a common garnishment for Bloody Marys. This one also had olives (again, typical) and pickled mushrooms (much more rare, and delicious!). Celery is for old-school Bloodys. Some places still stick a spear in your glass, but celery adds nothing to the experience other than a large stirring stick.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If your blog is suspended “Effective Immediately” at least we’ll know why. So funny that it’s illegal to sell over state lines.

    What an interesting town. And it does look like Leavenworth. Those yodelers look worth waiting for. Love how you guys adventure out! It’s fun to be able to come along for the ride!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Interstate Farmhouse Ale trafficking” I hear that’s what Federal Agents in 2023 will be focusing on.
    How sweet are the little Swiss towns? We have one in GA; Helen, GA. It’s kind of a tourist trap, but still cute.
    We have the Snoop Dog Cookbook; it’s pretty awesome.
    Oscar the Grouch as a yodeler. Hilarious and weird. I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You had me at costumed Swiss yodelers. That is not a phrase I thought I’d encounter today, but here we are. This area looks like a whole lot of fun. The “Let’s Summon Demons” coloring and activity book may be the most useful tool I’ve seen in some time when it comes to taking Halloween to the new level. That might come in handy come October 31. I can only assume Spotted Cow beer tastes best when sold in-state.

    Liked by 1 person

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