Almost overnight, Milwaukee has seen hundreds of once-burgeoning businesses close. The reason: the Detroit Tigers’ signing of free agent, and noted fried goods connoisseur, Prince Fielder.
Apparently, over the last several years, Fielder’s insatiable need for battered curd dipped in hot oil has artificially propped up the local fried cheese industry. Store owners were able to purchase cheese, Crisco, flour, and canola oil at such incredibly cheap rates because Fielder’s demand was so high. As a result of the phenomenon, and the low risk of opening any cheese-oriented business within a 30-mile radius of Milwaukee, a “Fried Cheese Industry Bubble” was created.
As Fielder left town, several store owners were hit with the harsh reality. Tony Capanelli, owner of “Fried Cheese Please,” in downtown Milwaukee, explained.
“I was doing 30, maybe 40 grand, per week in sales—mostly to Prince,” he said. “Then he left. Now I get maybe two or three old guys coming in here once a week. I just can’t keep the lights on.”
The story is the same throughout the town. Lisa Jurkowski, owner of “Cheddar Fried Better,” echoed Capanelli’s thoughts.
“Everything seemed so easy when he was here,” Jurkowski said. “I just battered the cheese, and put it in the fryer. Next thing I knew, he was standing there asking me how much he could buy for $200. It was like that every day after practice.”
The converse is true in Detroit, where cheese prices have skyrocketed. In an attempt to meet the pending high demand, several closed-down auto plants have begun retro-fitting their interiors to mass produce large quantities of batter-fried Gouda, Swiss, Colby and Cheddar.
Said one unidentified, but recently-employed worker after his first shift, “We’ll ride this wave for the next nine years—or until his heart explodes.”