Bratwurst, cheese curds, frozen custard top our Wisconsin food poll
Bratwurst. We really, really, really love bratwurst.
Sauerkraut. Not so much.
Fish. Fried beats the ever-loving heck out of boiled.
I asked you, dear readers, for your feelings about some iconic Wisconsin foods. Love 'em, hate 'em or do they just leave you feeling meh? More than 2,000 of you voted.
There weren't many big surprises. I mean, unless you have a personal issue with dairy, who hates cheese curds? Three% of you, to be exact. Only frozen custard received less hate (2%).
Wisconsinites proved to be more love it or leave it. Perhaps our mom's advice: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," still rings true in America's Dairyland. Just half the items on the list received a 10% or higher hate vote while every item was at least 10% meh.
The most surprising result was one particular cocktail racking up hate votes to the tune of 15%.
So what do we love?
Bratwurst: The German-inspired sausage is king of the Badger State (85% love votes) when it comes to our taste buds. From bratwurst behemoths like Johnsonville to the local butcher shop, there's a bratwurst for all tastes. It's a small wonder you can find a brat fry in every town, every weekend during the summer.
Friday fish fry: Along with cheese curds and Spotted Cow, this makes up the culinary trinity of foods I hear most Wisconsin ex-pats long for. With 83% of voters choosing love, this is a Wisconsin tradition that's here to stay.
Frozen custard: Tied with cheese curds for the next highest percent of love votes (82%), this frozen treat got the lowest percentage of hate. The fact you can douse it in hot fudge or caramel and mix in all manner of nuts, candies and other sweets doesn't hurt.
Cheese curds: It's cheese. It squeaks. Sometimes it's deep fried. It's no mystery why it's so loved.
Supper clubs: With a 78% love vote and rounding out a definitive top 5 (Broasted chicken, Kringles and beer were next closest at 69%) is the dining option that lives almost exclusively in Wisconsin.
What did the haters hate?
Ice wine: If you're bringing a bottle of wine to a party, I would advise against ice wine. It got the largest percentage of hate votes at 27% and the least love. That was a bit surprising, considering Wisconsin is in one of the few regions where this wine can be produced and wine tourism is hot these days.
Bloody mary: It didn't surprise me that this cocktail brought out the haters. I know why 24% of voters threw shade on this Sunday brunch staple. Tomato juice ain't popular. Still, that doesn't mean bloody lovers don't have to ward off the haters who want the buffet of food in the cocktail or the beer chaser.
Sauerkraut: I knew it. I knew I wasn't the only person who skips sauerkraut on my brat (and most other things). While 24% of votes were sour on the bratwurst condiment, sauerkraut also got plenty of love (54%). Whatever your sauerkraut opinion, there's a good chance someone you know disagrees with you.
Fish boil: The big whoosh of fire is impressive. The plate of boiled fish and potatoes following the fire show? Less impressive, so say our voters. Among the highest percentage of hate votes (22%) and lowest love (30%), you could make the case that fish boils are overrated. Just don't tell our big spending Illinois guests who like to vacation in Door County.
Old-Fashioned: Nope. That's not a misprint. Old-Fashioneds ranked fifth highest in hate votes (15%). Though when you factor in all the love (59%) for the cocktail, it moves up into the mid-range of rankings.
But what about beer?
Arguably Wisconsin's second-best known export behind dairy, beer found itself in the middle of the pack. The net approval rating (love votes minus hate votes) places beer between kringles and Door County cherries.
Still, it is the top vote getter when it comes to adult beverages. The real question is what would have happened if I'd specifically put up Spotted Cow instead of the more general beer option?
Keep in mind that we didn't administer this poll in any scientific fashion by trying to get an accurate demographic representation of Wisconsin residents. In other words, these results should be used for entertainment purposes only. Or, to prove you're right and your family and friends are wrong. I'm not one to squash your right to free speech.
Unofficial, official ranking
Not everyone who voted, voted for every food on the list. If you take the raw numbers of love votes and subtract the hate votes for an aggregate score (hey, this is my poll, so I get to make up the scoring system) the following is our ranking of Wisconsin eats. (Net vote totals.)
- Bratwurst (1,600)
- Cheese curds (1,534)
- Frozen custard (1,517)
- Friday fish fry (1,468)
- Supper clubs (1,378)
- Broasted chicken (1,273)
- Kringle (1,237)
- Beer (1,058)
- Door County cherries (1,047)
- Meltaway chocolates (949)
- Old-Fashioned (815)
- State Fair cream puff (757)
- Hmong eggroll (665)
- Cranberries (664)
- Sauerkraut (576)
- Bloody mary (439)
- Fish boil (149)
- Ice wine (-185)
If you don't like the results, blame your neighbors. Then invite them over for a brat fry as an apology for thinking bad things about them. Depending on your relationship, you'll know whether or not to top those brats with sauerkraut.
Contact Daniel at (920) 996-7214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @HigginsEats and LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/higginseats/.