FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — It took a while to get their recipe just right, but when the creators did, deep fried cheese curds became a Minnesota State Fair staple.
“It never worked right away. It was a mess,” Dick Mueller said.
Since 1975, the Mueller and Skarda families have been frying up baskets of cheesy goodness at the great Minnesota get-together.
Initially it was a struggle as the two families experimented with different creations at their food booth.
But after a few years it became obvious they’d struck state fair gold. Soon, deep fried cheese curds were a perennial crowd favorite.
“It got bigger here in Minnesota than it ever got to be in Wisconsin,” Dick Mueller said.
But the originator’s advancing age and the long hours in the booth were beginning to take a toll. Two years ago, after the death of one of his partners Dick notified State Fair administration he’s calling it quits.
The building at Dan Patch and Underwood was for sale. Soon, the fair was performing an appraisal of the property and offered to purchase their building from them.
“Just what we thought, we’d sell it to them and they’d sell it to one of the relatives,” said Dick.
But that didn’t happen, as the fair decided to open the business up to other food vendors. While one has been identified the final contract has not been signed.
“Decisions are never easy — it’s always very difficult,” the State Fair’s Jerry Hammer said.
Hammer says a request to transfer the license to another family member came too late and didn’t follow the normal procedure. Consequently, the fair was moving to fill the space.
“We do transfer licenses, and that happens. There’s a procedure to get it done. This wasn’t asked for in this particular case,” Hammer said.
Though not official, bacon could take the place of curds.
Still, as word is getting out Dick says his long time cheese fans are weighing in.
“Outrage, outrage,” Dick said. “They don’t like it.”
Tom Mueller, who had wanted to take over the operation from his parents says he understands that the fair can change its food lineup at any time to offer more diversity.
But Mueller added that while he applied for the license transfer over one year ago, he was notified on April 5 that the State Fair had opted to move in a different direction.
WCCO’s web team spoke with Dick Mueller during last year’s State Fair.