Cuba Cheese History 1871 to 2016
The Cuba Cheese Shoppe 53 Genesee Street Cuba, NY
40 Years in Business 1976-2016
Present Day Shoppe
The cheese industry has been a part of this area (particularly Cuba, NY) for many generations. Numerous small cheese factories studded the countryside at various crossroads in the late 1800's. The farmers took turns in hauling a week's production of cheese to Cuba.Ultimately, most of the cheese was shipped by canal or by railroad to New York City and other markets.Cuba, at that time, was the "Cheese Center of the World!" The price for cheese was established at a meeting at the Kinney Hotel on West Main Street in Cuba each week and was accepted as the price in the nation and the world.
The first cheese company was formed in Cuba in 1871, known as Ackerly, Sill and Co.The business partners were Hosea Ackerly, Andrew Ackerly and Daniel Sill.The company needed storage space for their blocks of cheese, so a three-story building was renovated in 1889 - the current Shoppe building. Ice from nearby Cuba Lake provided the means of refrigeration and was used successfully until the late 1930's.
Cheese Plant & Storage - Circa 1924 - 53 Genesee St.
Upon the death of Daniel Sill in 1915, William Ackerly and Alvah Renwick entered the business. The company became known as Ackerly and Renwick.From 1933 to 1941, the company was know as Ackerly and Windsor. William Ackerly and James Windsor were partners in the business in those years.
South Cuba Cheese Factory - Circa 1926 Cuba Cheese Factory Workers - Circa 1924
The plant was sold again in 1943 to I. vanZwanenberg and E.S. Moses when the name of The Cuba Cheese and Trading Company, Inc., came into existence. In 1953, I. vanZwanenberg passed away and his son, Nico, entered the business. A new, fairly modern cheese plant was built in South Cuba in 1956.It kept this name for over 34 years when in 1977, the plant's name was changed to Cuba Cheese, Inc. Additional storage facilities were added to the new plant in 1963, and it was no longer necessary for the cheese to be aged and stored in the huge Genesee Street building. However, the business offices of the plant were still maintained there.Mr. vanZwanenberg and Mr. Moses ran this very successful cheese-making company for 50 years.
In 1975, the officers of Cuba Cheese Inc. decided to open a retail division so that Cuba Cheese, gift items, and other cheeses could be available to the public.A mail order service was also started.A front portion of the Genesee Street building was renovated and the Cuba Cheese Shoppe was open for business in the summer of 1976.
The Cuba Cheese Shoppe - Circa 1976
The plant was sold in 1983 to H.P. Hood and in 1984 the corporate name became Empire Cheese, Inc.However, the plant was sold again in 1993 to Great Lakes Cheese of Hiram, Ohio, who are the current owners.The plant in Cuba has kept it's Empire Cheese, Inc.name.
In 1991, the plant decided to get out of the retail business. The Cuba Cheese Shoppe, with existing property and building, was sold to Jeff Bradley of Cuba. In 2007 a renovation to expand the store was accomplished along with an addition to the mail order packing room in the back.The current Shoppe continues to promote Cuba Cheese. They sell over 300 varieties of domestic, imported and local cheeses, gourmet foods, gift baskets, gift items, kitchen wares, cheese curd, salt rising bread and more. They have added a wholesale truck delivery service and deliver to over 140 stores in the Western NY and Northern Pennsylvania areas.A fund raising department was started in 1994 and over 100 organizations participate in this program. The mail order business has greatly expanded to include an in -house mailing list of over 80,000 customers across the United States.
One of the main goals of the Cuba Cheese Shoppe is and always has been to promote the wonderful New York State Cheddar cheeses that originated in 1887 at the Ackerly and Sills Plant. The demand for New York State cheese has been and is due in large measure to its characteristically unique flavor, a certain sharpness.This distinctiveness is attributed to the soil and water peculiar to this area near the Great Lakes. Because of the fodder and the water that the cows get here, they give milk that makes cheese with a distinctive sharp flavor.
The Cuba plant, Empire Cheese Co., is well known for it's mozzarella and provolone. The Great Lakes plant in Adams, NY produces the majority of the NYS Cheddar and cheese curd. The Cuba Cheese Shoppe consistently promotes local products from around the area - honey, chocolate, sauces, Amish goods, jellies and jams, mustards, bbq sauces, and more! Contrary to public belief, the Cuba Cheese Shoppe does not own the Cuba Empire Cheese plant nor is cheese made in the basement! Cheese was once produced, stored and packaged in this great old building, but those times are long gone! We will continue to provide the best customer service and quality cheese products for years to come!
THE EVOLUTION OF SALT RISING BREAD!
ANGELICA BAKERY - Angelica, NY
When the Grahams took over the bakery they could get the "salt rising starter" which was a culture that would make the bread. At the time they started the bakery they got the starter from Roland Industries in St Louis MO and then the man who made the culture (he was very old) decided to retire and Rolands sold the recipe to a Bakery in Virginia. They have since gone out of business so they can't get the culture anymore.
They then started experimenting with the cornmeal and milk starter and have been working on it ever since. They still can't get the old fashioned cheesy taste back, but keep working on it. Many people who pass by the Cuba Cheese Shoppe often tell us they remember that distinct "smelly socks" smell when the bread was baking. Because that specific culture can't be obtained anymore, the bread does not have that strong smell or taste.
After a few years, they stopped making all the donuts, sub rolls, rolls, breads, pastries, cookies and cakes, but kept the salt rising bread. Salt rising is a unique product that you can't get in a lot of places and they decided to put all of their efforts into it.
Today, Dottie Graham, daughter of Duane runs the bakery and supplies the Cuba Cheese Shoppe with deliveries twice a week. If you are ever driving through Angelica in the morning, you may smell the distinct aroma of the Salt Rising Bread - it may not have that stinky socks smell, but you will know it when you smell it!
Thank you for shipping our order!! PURE JOY!!! We love Cuba Cheese Shoppe from Nome, Alaska!!!! - Honie Culley, Nome, Alaska
I've been in Georgia for many years, but grew up in Salamanca and think Cuba Cheese is absolutely the best! Congratulations on your new and improved website - it looks great and is definitely saved in my favorites! - Dave Hoover from Martinez, Georgia
I want to thank ya's for sending me this link for your new web site. I also wanna tell ya a little story about a little boy that is now a man and grew up looking forward to every summer when my parents would take me to Pottercounty PA. The highlight of that trip was knowing that I would get my favorite Old york cheddar cheese spread. I miss it and now look forward to ordering it online. - David Gassert from Royalton, PA
Sarah: Just a note to tell you once again, Cube Cheese Shop was everything a customer could want. Friendly, concerned customer service, prompt delivery of the correct selected items and above all, products exceeding expectations. Continued success to the store.A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all your staff. Greg Langston- Port Saint. Lucie, FL