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Swiss cheese is one of the most popular cheeses in North America. It’s a distinct cheese, with it’s whitish-yellow color and its trademark holes, which contribute to its rampant use as an analogy. If someone’s story or alibi is missing several parts or things don’t add up, you say “that story has more holes than Swiss cheese”. There’s also the Swiss cheese model of management, that states that throughout different levels of management, things slip up and cause accidents in the workplace, and they escape through “holes”. However, is Swiss cheese really from Switzerland?
Yes and no. The term Swiss cheese in North America is misleading for two reasons. First, this implies that Swiss cheese is only one type of cheese. In North America, Swiss cheese refers to several different types of cheeses that are very similar. They are distinct cheeses, but these differences are quite subtle, and therefore are all placed under one umbrella known as “Swiss cheese”. Secondly, this also implies that there is only one type of cheese in Switzerland. If you know the premise of Swiss culture, whether it’s through having visited or watched Heidi when you were young, you know that it’s a very rural and rustic culture based on mountains and valleys. Therefore, it makes sense that agriculture is very important to them. As a result, you wouldn’t expect them to only have ONE type of cheese, would you? No. Switzerland has approximately 450 varieties of cheese, made from cow, goat, and sheep milk. Some types of cheeses from Switzerland include Sbrinz, Emmentaler, Raclette, Formaggini, and Gala.
While that’s all great information to know and consider, it still doesn’t answer the question. Is Swiss cheese actually from Switzerland? The type of Swiss cheese that’s known to North Americans as such is not actually Swiss. It is a variation of the Swiss Emmentaler cheese. Because it resembles the Emmentaler cheese in appearance and taste, North Americans have named it Swiss cheese, and because North American culture has perpetuated itself worldwide, many others around the world refer to this cheese in the same way.
So no, Swiss cheese itself is not actually from Switzerland, but is based off a type of cheese from Switzerland.