Food blog

The Untold Story Behind Tillamook: A Dairy Legacy Unveiled

Tillamook, the iconic brand known for its beloved orange cheddar loaf, has captured the hearts and taste buds of consumers as a titan of dairy in the great Northwest. With a rich history spanning more than 100 years, Tillamook has established itself as a national Oregon brand, delivering exceptional taste and texture to cheese lovers across the country.

A farmer’s cooperative building a legacy

What began as a humble farming cooperative in Tillamook County in 1909 has grown into a dairy powerhouse. A small group of dairy farmers from the dewy valleys of Oregon banded together to form the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which has grown to include more than 100 farms. Tillamook’s commitment to quality and teamwork has made them the largest employer in Tillamook County, employing nearly 900 people in the craft of fine dairy products.

Building a ship to solve distribution problems

Before the advent of refrigerated trucks, transporting perishable dairy products was a challenge for Tillamook County farmers. To overcome this obstacle, these ingenious farmers came up with a unique solution: they built a ship. The schooner, named The Morning Star, became the first ship built in Tillamook County and registered in Oregon. This iconic ship, a symbol of hope and a new day for Tillamook County, is still represented by the ship logo on Tillamook products today.

The Cheese King of the Coast and his Cheddar-making methods

Tillamook’s distinctive and delicious cheddar is the result of a fortuitous partnership with Canadian cheesemaker Peter McIntosh. McIntosh brought his artisanal cheesemaking skills to Tillamook County, where he operated the first commercial cheese factory in 1894. He shared his expertise with local dairy farmers, and his cheddar-making formula became the standard for Tillamook cheese. McIntosh’s legacy lives on in the rich flavors of Tillamook’s cheddar, a testament to his art of cheesemaking.

Award-winning cheese that stands out

Tillamook’s commitment to quality has earned recognition and awards. In 1904, Tillamook cheese made an impact at the St. Louis World’s Fair, winning first place and solidifying its reputation for excellence. The tradition of producing exceptional cheeses continued, and in 2010, Tillamook’s Mild Cheddar triumphed at the World Cheese Championships, beating all competitors in its category. Tillamook cheeses have proven time and again that they can hold their own with the best.

Tillie: The beloved spokes cow

Tillie the Squeaky Cow has captured the hearts of children and adults alike for more than 50 years as Tillamook’s beloved mascot. This yellow rubber cow with a cheerful smile became an iconic figure and remains a sought-after collector’s item. While Tillie is no longer the brand ambassador, her legacy lives on, and original Tillie toys have become valuable antiques, fetching high prices at online auctions and capturing the nostalgia of Tillamook enthusiasts.

Spreading Love and Joy on the Love Loaf Tour

In a colorful and memorable celebration of Tillamook’s 100th anniversary, the Love Loaf Tour took to the roads of America. Cheddar orange Volkswagen minibuses visited more than 100 cities, offering free samples and coupons at supermarkets and outdoor displays. This whimsical tour spread the message of love through Tillamook’s love of dairy and captivated cheese lovers across the country.

Commitment to quality: No Corn Syrup or Artificial Preservatives

Tillamook has always stood for quality and has never compromised its commitment to excellence. Unlike many other producers, Tillamook naturally ages its cheddar, allowing it to develop its distinctive flavors over time. In addition, Tillamook has chosen to add extra cream to its ice cream instead of extra sugar and filler, resulting in a creamier and more authentic flavor experience. Whether it’s cheese, ice cream, sour cream or yogurt, Tillamook’s commitment to real ingredients shines through in every bite.

A company with integrity: Supporting Struggling Farmers

Tillamook’s integrity extends beyond its commitment to quality products. In 2020, the company donated a remarkable $1.6 million to struggling farmers, demonstrating its unwavering support for the agricultural community. Tillamook’s commitment to stewardship extends not only to its customers, but also to the Tillamook County community, solidifying its reputation as a company with a heart.
When you enjoy a slice of Tillamook Cheddar or a scoop of its creamy ice cream, you’re not just savoring delicious flavors-you’re experiencing the story of a brand that has dedicated more than a century to perfecting the art of dairy. Tillamook’s untold truth is a testament to the passion, craftsmanship, and unwavering commitment to quality that continues to make it a beloved choice for cheese lovers everywhere.


What is the history of Tillamook Cheese?

Tillamook Cheese has a rich history dating back more than 100 years. It began in 1909 as a small cooperative of farmers in Tillamook County, Oregon. Local dairy farmers joined together to form the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which has since grown into a leading dairy brand known for its exceptional quality and taste.

How did Tillamook solve its distribution challenges?

Before modern refrigeration, Tillamook County faced distribution challenges for its perishable dairy products. To overcome this, farmers came up with a unique solution – they built a ship called The Morning Star. This schooner allowed them to efficiently transport their products, and the outline of the ship still serves as Tillamook’s logo.

What makes Tillamook cheese different?

Tillamook Cheese is distinguished by its commitment to quality and craftsmanship. The brand uses a time-honored cheddar-making process developed by Canadian cheesemaker Peter McIntosh, who brought his expertise to Tillamook County. The cheese is aged naturally, allowing it to develop rich flavors. Tillamook’s commitment to using real ingredients and avoiding corn syrup or artificial preservatives further distinguishes its cheese.

Has Tillamook won any awards for its cheese?

Absolutely! Tillamook cheese has won numerous awards for its exceptional quality. In 1904, Tillamook cheese won first place at the St. Louis World’s Fair, solidifying its reputation for excellence. In 2010, Tillamook’s Mild Cheddar triumphed at the World Cheese Championship, beating out all competitors in its category. These accolades reflect the brand’s unwavering commitment to making the finest cheeses.

What does Tillie, the cow mascot, mean?

Tillie the Squeaky Cow has been Tillamook’s beloved mascot for more than 50 years. This iconic yellow rubber cow with a happy smile captured the hearts of children and adults alike. Although she is no longer the brand ambassador, Tillie’s legacy lives on, and the original Tillie toys have become prized collectibles that inspire nostalgia among Tillamook enthusiasts.

How does Tillamook support farmers and the community?

In addition to producing quality dairy products, Tillamook is committed to supporting struggling farmers and communities. In 2020, the company donated a remarkable $1.6 million to help farmers facing challenges. This demonstrates Tillamook’s commitment to stewardship and its unwavering support of the agricultural community and the Tillamook County community at large.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *