World's Largest Replica Cheese.

Big Cheese Bites The Dust

The world's largest replica cheese is gone.

"It was a maintenance issue," says Kevin Grap, station owner of WCCN radio, on whose property the replica cheese resided for almost 40 years. At issue was not the maintenance of the cheese itself, but of the glass-sided, refrigerated tractor trailer -- the Cheesemobile -- in which it sat.

The world's largest replica cheese was built to preserve the memory of the world's largest real cheese, a 17-ton cheddar displayed at the Wisconsin Pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The cheese was cut into pieces and eaten in 1965. Then the replica was built, placed in the Cheesemobile, and both it and the Pavilion were moved to Neillsville, Wisconsin. The Pavilion became the broadcasting headquarters of WCCN.

Grap's abandonment of the cheese after all these years was, in a word, triage. The cheese had "served its purpose," he said. "Not very many people came to see it." Grap felt that his money would be better spent maintaining the Pavilion and Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking Cow, who still stands outside. "You can run a radio station a lot cheaper than you can in this building," he said. "I have to paint it every three years."

Grap said that the trailer, which he had paid to repair once before, was again "in such bad shape that I was afraid that it would create adverse publicity." It was "rusting" and "the wood was all rotted out."

We mentioned that there other Giant Cows, even Giant Talking Cows, but only one World's Largest Replica Cheese. But Grap clearly had lost patience with it. No effort was made to save it. Instead, the Cheesemobile was sold to an unnamed "collector of trucks" who, according to Grap, didn't even want the trailer, let alone the cheese. Grap insisted that he take everything, and the Cheesemobile with its cargo was hauled away in August, 2005.

Perhaps the Cheesemobile and cheese survive. Perhaps they will show up on ebay, or in a car museum somewhere. Grap doesn't know and doesn't care. "I lost money on the deal," he said.

Just east of town on US 10 (Division St.)
Removed in 2005.

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