Our favorite local products
Asking an OnMilwaukee.com writer or editor what's their favorite local product is a little like asking a music fanatic the classic question, "If you could take one record with you onto a desert island, which would it be?"
Somehow, the OnMilwaukee.com staff picked a local product – or a few local products – that topped their lengthy mental lists. Some picks are beer-related, some are sausage-related, but all are 100 percent Brew City-related.
What's your favorite local product? Feel free to add it via the Talkback feature.
Pick: Usinger's liver sausage
Not braunschweiger. It has to be the full-flavored liver sausage, complete with the stitched casing made of innards. Nothing beats liver sausage, raw onion and brown mustard on rye. It's the greatest sandwich in the world and it must be eaten over a sink while standing.
Pick: Racine Kringles
A staple fundraiser item for me growing up, Racine Kringles had a near-constant presence in my family's house. Mom always let my brother and I weigh in on the decision-making each year kringle season came around, and we got into so many arguments vying to add our favorites to the order form I lost count long ago (I wouldn't let up until I got my chocolate eclair). And, once they arrived, it was always a battle to make sure you got a slice before Dad polished off the ring. These days I can just go to the grocery store and pick one up instead of waiting for a neighborhood club to open up a sale, but they still haven't lost their nostalgia.
Pick: Lakefront Brewery's Golden Maple Root Beer
As a self-described "coffee guy" and irrationally loyal Coca-Cola consumer, this seems like an odd pick for me as my favorite Wisconsin product. But there's something about that smooth, maple-y taste that you can only get at Lakefront that is too hard to resist. I rarely find it outside of the brewery, and if I do it's a must purchase item to go with whatever I'm eating. I like the fact that it's so unique to Milwaukee, and so different than any other root beer I've come across.
Pick: El Rey lemon tortilla chips
Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of local favorites, from Great Lakes Distillery's Kinnickinnic Whisky to Kallas Honey, but the one product that has been a favorite of mine for the longest amount of time and affects my daily intake the most is probably the tangy, addictive lemon tortilla chips from El Rey. I love these chips so much I find dipping them in salsa or guacamole completely unnecessary and borderline insulting. They are so flavorful and yet not in a fake Dorito's sort of way.
Pick: Usinger's wieners
I think that my long German Milwaukee heritage manifests itself, in part, in my love for liverwurst, braunschweiger and sauerkraut, things I've loved since I was a kid, surely thanks to my mom and her dad. Usinger's makes great versions of those, but there's nothing quite like a Usinger's wiener, which has not only the right spices and flavor but also the most pleasing snap when you bite into it. They're fully cooked so you can unwrap the white butcher's paper and eat one before you even leave the 3rd Street shop. If you're lucky, the sales staff will offer you a free one to try (bring a kid, which helps, I think).
Pick: Miller beer
I was really stumped by this assignment. How could I just pick one thing? After all, so many of my favorite products are made in Wisconsin: Jack Links beef jerky, Kohler fixtures, Leinenkugel's, Usinger's and Johnsonville brats. I really wanted to avoid going with something too cliché, but at the end of the day, I had to choose Miller beer. It's not that Miller makes my favorite beer, although I certainly do enjoy living the High Life, but the brewery best represents the history and the accurate stereotype that is living in Milwaukee. I choose to ignore that MillerCoors is now based in Chicago, of course. The Miller that I drink is made in Wisconsin.
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