The History of Swiss Cheese

Today, we call it Swiss cheese. But over the years it has been known by many other names. It was initially known as Emmental cheese when it was first manufactured in the West Central region of Switzerland in the 14th century. The Swiss in the Emmental region kept that goodness a secret for a long time because Swiss cheese didn’t catch on to the rest of the world until the early 1800s, when the people of Emmental started making larger quantities of cheese that they could market outside of the area. Those Emmentalians, they were smart people.

Side note: In most English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, if you ask for Swiss cheese you’re likely to get the holey cheese you know and love. However, if you travel anywhere in Europe or the United Kingdom, you might want to refer to it as Emmental cheese. Just an FYI!

It was only a matter of time before the delicious holey cheese made its presence known to the rest of the world. These days, we couldn’t imagine life without Swiss cheese. It’s a staple in many recipes, such as Cuban sandwiches, fondue, chicken Cordon Bleu and countless others.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the total U.S. per capita consumption of Swiss cheese was a little over 1 pound per person in 2013. That’s a LOT of Swiss cheese!

Want more on Swiss cheese? Check out our recipes section or learn how Swiss cheese is made.