So by now, you’ve probably read the hoopla the Wisconsin Tourism Department’s been getting over our new state slogan: Live Like You Mean It. Apparently, we paid $50,000 to an ad agency to come up with this catchphrase, which wouldn’t be so bad except it’s already been used in a Bicardi Rum ad campaign. And, since our last slogan celebrated “Wisconsin Originals,” you’d think we perhaps could have come up with something more, dare I say, original?
I personally have always thought state slogans are a waste of time, especially in a state such as Wisconsin, where let’s face it: Wisconsin = Cheese. I don’t care where you are in the world – and I’ve been to some fairly remote places – you tell people you’re from Wisconsin, and they smile and say “cheese”. It’s a universal language.
Yesterday, the New York Times entered the discussion we’ve all been having about the worthiness of the new state slogan, in an op/ed column by Gail Collins. The title: Come Visit. Live Life. Eat Cheese. 
Gail points out that we Wisconsinites were perfectly happy with our America’s Dairyland slogan until 1985, when then Governor Tony Earl decided we needed something catchier. He sponsored a contest for a new state slogan, which drew an avalanche of suggestions. A screening committee declined to consider the popular favorite: “Eat Cheese or Die.” 
I think Eat Cheese or Die is actually a quite catchy slogan, but I’d love to hear what you think. Here’s a deal for my loyal Cheese Underground readers: the first seven readers who email me what they think the new Wisconsin state slogan should be will receive one of the super cool magnets I just bought today at the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum. 
Here are the rules: your new state slogan must contain one of these words: butter, bubbler or cheese. Why? Because here are the prizes, with information courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Museum:
1. No thanks, I’m having Butter.  

Like many states, Wisconsin has had laws prohibiting and/or taxing colored oleo-margarine since its introduction. Butter shortages caused by World War II led to the scaling back of oleo laws nationwide, but Wisconsin held firm in its pro-butter position. The battle against oleo-margarine came to a climax in 1965, when state senator and butter proponent Gordon Roseleip failed a blind taste test (his wife had been secretly serving him margarine in place of butter for years). Soon thereafter, the majority of oleomargarine laws were repealed, leaving Wisconsin Statue 97.18 the lone remnant of oleo legislation.
2. It’s a Bubbler

Perhaps you are familiar with the unique way many Wisconsinites refer to a machine that dispenses water in public places. To most Americans, it is a water fountain or drinking fountain. To many Badger State natives, it is a BUBBLER. “Bubbler” is recognized by the Dictionary of American Regional English and the use of the term is fiercely defended by its users (most notably, my husband).
3. Real Wisconsin Cheese Curds.
 For many years, only Wisconsinites and lucky visitors knew the glory of cheese curds. In Wisconsin, cheese curds are sold at virtually every grocery store, gas station and farmers’ market. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, which give them their defining characteristic. For a special treat, batter and deep fry a handful. Yummy.

So put on your creative caps and let me know what you think our new state slogan should be. I’ll list the suggestions in an upcoming post. And remember – if you act fast enough and include your mailing address, I’ll send you a super cool magnet. Happy day!

8 thoughts on “Eat Cheese or Die

  1. I wore my “No Thanks” t-shirt on the bus once, and an older gentleman yelled at me, “No thanks, I’m having heart disease!”

    (Not a good state slogan, but a good story.)

  2. Not so sure I’m against a state slogan — but it certainly has to be more inventive than what they’ve come up with so far!

    Just the other day, I made a comment that could be “sloganized”… and could be fun.

    Wisconsin: It’s not just for cheeseheads anymore.

  3. I think “Eat Cheese Or Die” is a great slogan for Wisconsin. I've liked it for years since I first saw it back when Gov. Tony Earl changed the license plates from that ugly yellow to the ugly tag we now have. Another fine slogan is “Smell our Dairy Aire.” I even got the domain and plan to create a website someday.

  4. One of my friends and I have always referred to anywhere in Wisconsin as “beyond the Great Cheddar Curtain.” I do believe the phrase would be much, much better than that lame current proposed one.

    Miss Terri Ford, the Glory of the Continent

  5. I visited Wisconsin in June 1991. Eat cheese or die is what I most remember from the trip. Everyone back at home got Wisconsin Cheese for souvenirs when I returned to Alabama. “Just say Cheese Please”

    ……………………Thanks: Your Friend Ben

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