Mitten List: Frankenmuth

November 26, 2013

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It will be a surprise to no one that I love cheese.

Both the kind of cheese that’s served up on a cracker.

And the kind of cheese that’s all about the twinkle lights and corny music and excessive amounts of glitter.

So when I say that Frankenmuth may very well be one of the cheesiest places I’ve ever visited, I mean that as a compliment.

Seriously.

I do.

In fact, it’s very possible Frankenmuth is my spirit animal. Can a place be a spirit animal? Because, seriously, a city that has something called “chocolate cheese” must be related to me in the spiritual sense.

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WHAAAA?

Frankenmuth is located about two and a half hours away from Kalamazoo, in the thumb-crotch region of Michigan’s mitten. (I also totally mean “thumb-crotch” as a compliment, by the way.)

Dubbed Michigan’s “Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth was settled back in the olden days by fifteen German immigrants who came to convert the Native Americans. I’m not sure if they succeeded in that mission. But some one hundred and fifty years later the city still pays homage to its German heritage in the form of an annual Bavarian Fest and an unnatural amount of cuckoo clocks. As you do.

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This is not natural, RIGHT?

This past Saturday, I went with some friends to explore all Frankenmuth had to offer.

Of course, our exploration started with fried chicken. As every good exploration should.

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Frankenmuth is actually quite famous for its fried chicken. I’m not really sure if this has something to do with the town’s German heritage or just the fact that FRIED CHICKEN. I mean, come on, if you’re going to be famous for something, it might as well be flaky, delicious and deep-fried.

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Any town famous for THIS is awesome in my book

After stuffing ourselves full of chicken and the fixings, we made our way to River Place, an outdoor shopping center which looks exactly like Germany.
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Willkommen to Germany!

I should probably mention here that I’ve never actually been to Germany.

So, yes, I do think Germany is inhabited by plastic elves.

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He looks German, right?

And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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Also totally German.

What’s that you say? Germany’s not really like that?

Okay, so maybe Frankenmuth’s version of Germany may not be all that accurate.

But it did have this:

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Is that lederhosen you’re wearing or are you just happy to see me?

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like this version of Germany.

After strolling through River Place, we headed back downtown to check out more shops, including something called Cheese Haus.

Mind you, this was  just a shop selling cheese and not a house made out of cheese where you could live forever and ever and never have to leave and just eat your walls whenever you got hungry. Not that that’s what I thought a Cheese Haus was going to be. But a girl can dream, okay?

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Not made out of cheese. Sorry!

We then grabbed a pint at the Frankenmuth Brewery. I tried the Christmastime Ale, which the bartender described to me as “Christmas in a cup.” Which I guess makes sense as Christmas in my family does tend to involve a lot of alcohol.

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And, finally, we were ready for our last and best stop of the day: Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.

While Bronner’s is described as the world’s largest Christmas store, it is not so much a store but an explosion of everything that is Christmas (or, err, CHRISTmas).

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And a few things that aren’t exactly Christmas.

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The bulk of the store is devoted to ornaments, which are handily organized into different themed sections.

There was the hunting and fishing section.

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And the farming section.

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And the junk food section.

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There were your normal garden-variety ornaments.

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And then there were your what-the-heck-is-that ornaments. Like this one, which is a truffle. And not a fermented brain like I originally thought. (Although, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bronner’s has a fermented brain ornament.)

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And then, my friends, there were cat ornaments.

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Lots and lots of cat ornaments.

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So very many cat ornaments.

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Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I MUST GO BUY A TREE RIGHT NOW AND DECORATE IT ENTIRELY IN CAT-FACE ORNAMENTS.

Ha, ha, just kidding.

(I’M TOTALLY NOT KIDDING.)

As much as I loved all the cat ornaments, I have to say my favorite section of all was the “Christmas around the World” section.

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This section was divided by country, and each country had its own bevy of nation-specific ornaments.

For example, there was China:

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And Japan:

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And Mexico:

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And Canada:

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But even more fantastic than the country-themed ornaments were the three-foot-tall, country-themed dolls which stood on the top of each display. (And by “fantastic” I mean “completely and totally horrifying and will probably attempt to eat your face off if you let them.”)

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“Welcome. TO YOUR NIGHTMARES.”

Each doll was wearing a different ethnic dress, but they all had the same creepy expressions on their creepy doll faces.

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“Hello, I am from France. I like to drink wine and EAT FACES!”

And they were all wearing the same weird mittens. I suspect this is because the mittens were being used to cover up their needle-sharp, face-shredding claws.

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“Come a little closer. YOUR NOSE LOOKS DELICIOUS.”

Ha, ha, just kidding.

(I’M TOTALLY NOT KIDDING.)

What is the cheesiest place you’ve ever been? And again, I totally mean that as a compliment.
50

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm Priya said:

    Great, now I want to go to Germany… or Kalamazoo. And eat cheese.
    Priya recently posted..Why I Want To Travel: Real Talk

  2. On November 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm Rachel said:

    The cheesiest place, literally, I have ever been was Parma, Italy. There was just Parmesan cheese for the eating everywhere. It was heaven.

    I have never eaten fried chicken in Germany, but those pictures do look very German. The “Christmas around the world” for Japan should have been chicken not sushi! haha

    I hope you bought a creepy doll.

  3. On November 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm Erik said:

    Looks like you sure did Frankenmuth the right way! It’s sure cheesy, but it is fun for a short period of time. My wife and I are good for a visit at least once a year. Glad to see you hit Zehnder’s- a meal there is a Michigan tradition!

    Looking forward to reading more about my home state, and also about our brewery tour in the spring which I promise will happen. (Sure, you say, nodding sardonically 🙂 )
    Erik recently posted..Photo Essay- Borgarnes, Iceland

    • On November 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm Sally said:

      We weren’t sure to do Zehnder’s or Bavarian Inn, but I saw Zehnder’s on a BuzzFeed article so we went with them. I think next time I’ll have to try the Bavarian Inn, if only so I can say I dined in a life-size cuckoo clock.

  4. On November 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm Ross said:

    I’ve never liked cheesy places much unless it’s the kind with lots of cheese. Wish I could enjoy those places more. After about ten minutes I begin to panic. A voice in my head screams “Run away!” and I do. But then the same thing happens to me in shopping malls.

  5. On November 27, 2013 at 4:52 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    The cheesiest place I’ve been to was either the Ridley’s Can You Believe It Museum in Jeju Island, Korea, or Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola. But no actual cheese was to be found at either.

    Also, I feel that my life is now incomplete without that Pringles decoration. And the cat decorations. And the maple syrup ones.

    If I dress up in lederhosen, do you think the good people of Frankenmuth will take me in as one of their own?
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Stuff I Really Need To Do Before I Leave The UK

  6. On November 27, 2013 at 7:50 am Heather said:

    This place looks so awesome! I tried chocolate mint cheese in Amish Country and it was amazing! It was fudge made with cream cheese and I may have eaten two blocks of it. Along with some fried chicken and peach pie. Because Amish Country.
    Heather recently posted..Chinese Words and Phrases for Foreigners

  7. On November 27, 2013 at 11:37 am Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    Good to know that I am within driving distance of chocolate cheese.

  8. On November 27, 2013 at 8:17 pm Colleen Brynn said:

    Oh god, don’t tell my friends this place exists. They will buy me ALL the cat ornaments.

  9. On November 27, 2013 at 9:04 pm Sally said:

    This is terrifying! And fascinating! And one of those things that the USA shouldn’t be famous for, even though there are a lot of weird places like this, all over… well maybe it would be okay if the USA was famous for being really freaking weird. At least it would be honest.

    Sooooo Sally I really want a Pringle ornament… pretty please? I mean, it’s like buying it for yourself!
    Sally recently posted..Featured Photograph: White on Water

    • On November 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm Sally said:

      WHAT? This is TOTALLY what USA should be famous for? I mean, what’s not to love? Cheese, fried chicken, Christmas explosions and face-eating dolls! Okay, so maybe I don’t love that last one… but all the other things are totally lovable. And after that comment I’m not so sure you deserve your very own sparkly Pringles ornament.

  10. On November 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm Brittany @ Paws for Beer said:

    those “face eating dolls” must be relatives of the dolls at Disneyland’s It’s a Small World. They have the same creep factor 🙂
    Brittany @ Paws for Beer recently posted..Photo Friday 11/29/2013

  11. On November 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm Jess said:

    In spite of the fact that I find Minnesota terrifyingly cold, I feel like I might have to move to Frankenmuth now. Because chocolate cheese.

    Except those cuckoo clocks look like they want to steal my soul, so this might be a problem.

    The most ridiculously cheesy place I’ve been to is North Pole, Alaska. It’s a town. Named North Pole. It has like 200 residents and the main business is a place called ‘The Santa House.’ The amount of Santa is kind of overwhelming.
    Jess recently posted..The Most Interesting Hostel in the World – Dawson City River Hostel

    • On December 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm Sally said:

      Minnesota? Ummm, I’m in Michigan! Don’t make me move any farther into snow territory than I already am!
      And now I really need to go to the North Pole. I had no idea this place existed. It sounds AMAZING!

  12. On December 2, 2013 at 8:20 am Beth said:

    So I totally want to visit here to purchase a ton of ridiculous ornaments. And I mean ridiculous as a compliment, as in… ridiculously awesome ornaments!
    Beth recently posted..Welcome to Maldives Month

  13. On December 2, 2013 at 11:53 am Maria said:

    Thanks for the LOL read tonight. I’m glad I finally found a blogger who talks about the truly important things, namely cheese. Thank you again and I’m glad you survived the terrifying dolls.
    Maria recently posted..Trip to Kanchanaburi: Trains, Tigers, Waterfalls, oh my.

  14. On December 5, 2013 at 11:28 am Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    I just … can’t do cheesy. I struggle with Vegas even. I just… Aaaaaaaaaargh!! Maybe it’s the minimalist life style that have made me this way or … well I don’t know but Oh I get the hibby jibbies! It’s a tough time of year for me… glitter, and plastic and fake … fake … ugh. But I am glad you had a good time!!

    • On December 5, 2013 at 11:30 am Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

      No amount of money to make me go to Disney World for example. Just. Can’t. Do. It. All I hear is “Run Forest RUUUUUUN!!”.

      • On December 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm Sally said:

        I’ve never been to Disney in the States but I’ve been to Tokyo Disney a few times… and, I have to admit, I LOVE it. I went there for Halloween one year and everyone was in costumes — even full-grown adults who didn’t have children with them. And it was the most fantastic thing EVER.
        Although, I will admit I wasn’t the hugest fan of Vegas. I didn’t mind all the cheesy casinos and shows, but I just felt so unhealthy while I was there. After three days of drinking daiquiris and being cooped up in air conditioning, I just wanted fresh air and some water.

  15. On December 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm Sarah Somewhere said:

    Hahahaha! Those cat ornaments…
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Taking time for me and for him

  16. On December 11, 2013 at 3:56 am becky hutner said:

    Dangerously enthusiastic cheese fan here. Wondering if you could elaborate a bit on the CHOCOLATE CHEESE? (yes, chocolate fan as well. i know it’s rare to find someone who likes both)
    becky hutner recently posted..VIETNAM HIGHLIGHTS: Part 2

  17. On December 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm becky hutner said:

    Questioning your priorities here Sally but ok, I eagerly await “Frankenmuth: the return.”
    becky hutner recently posted..VIETNAM HIGHLIGHTS: Part 2

  18. On December 12, 2013 at 10:44 pm choi kum fook said:

    As a Chinese, I like to eat everything! But I am not a real eater,just for filling the stormach when hungry. Anyhow, the cheese found in Armsterdam , Holland, is quite nice to enjoy. Have a trial when in Holland, Miss Sally!

  19. On December 18, 2013 at 8:56 am Ceri said:

    Omg, those dolls!! There’s a little island near Mexico City which has thousands of dolls literally EVERYWHERE – that’s what it’s famous for. And they all have that creepy look on their face. Eesh. Run away, Sally. Run away fast.
    Ceri recently posted..In Defense of Vanilla Sex

  20. On March 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm Rachael said:

    I went to the Cabot cheese factory in Vermont once. They had a ROOM FULL OF CHEESE TO SAMPLE. This was not a tiny room. There was also BUTTER.

  21. On March 27, 2014 at 8:59 am Kassandra said:

    I grew up in Michigan and this is where my mother chose to go for Mother’s Day. Every year. Think about that.
    Kassandra recently posted..Ypsilanti nights in Turkey

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