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.
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.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.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.
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.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.
I should probably mention here that I’ve never actually been to Germany.
So, yes, I do think Germany is inhabited by plastic elves.
And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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:
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?
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.
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).
And a few things that aren’t exactly Christmas.
The bulk of the store is devoted to ornaments, which are handily organized into different themed sections.
There was the hunting and fishing section.
And the farming section.
And the junk food section.
There were your normal garden-variety ornaments.
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.)
And then, my friends, there were cat ornaments.
Lots and lots of cat ornaments.
So very many cat ornaments.
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.
This section was divided by country, and each country had its own bevy of nation-specific ornaments.
For example, there was China:
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.”)
Each doll was wearing a different ethnic dress, but they all had the same creepy expressions on their creepy doll 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.
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.