Red Rock Cottage Cheese: An Oregon Original

 

Red Rock Cottage Cheese, Oregon Cottage Cheese advertisement from The Oregonian Feb. 2, 1924

Cottage cheese - it's one of those things most people take for granted these days. But did you know that the first commercial production of cottage cheese in the United States occurred in Oregon?

Cottage cheese (also referred to as farmer's cheese or pot cheese in earlier days) is made using skim milk, which is a by-product of the butter making process. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, skim milk was usually fed to cattle or dumped - but enterprising, thrifty folks used the skim milk to make cheese. This resulting cheese was often dressed with a little extra milk or cream, creating the product we know as 'cottage cheese' today.

Red Rock Cottage Cheese Co. started in Tigard, Oregon (now a Portland suburb) in 1915. The early story is a familiar one: Harry West's mother started out making cottage cheese in her kitchen. The company started small, with West taking his mother's product from store to store daily. From there, business took off rapidly. Red Rock eventually acquired dairies and plants in Washington and California, then merged with Kraft in 1929. For a time the Tigard plant made Philadelphia Cream Cheese before finally closing in the 1950s.