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Limburger Cheese
Country of origin Belgium, Germany, & Netherlands
Region, town Limburg
Source of milk Cow
Pasteurized Yes
Texture Semi-soft
Aging time 2-3 months
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Limburger is a cheese that originated during the 19th century in the historical Duchy of Limburg, which is now divided among modern-day Belgium, Germany, and Netherlands. The cheese is especially known for its pungent odor caused by the bacteria Brevibacterium linens, which is partially responsible for body odor and particularly smelly feet.[1]


While today most Limburger is produced in Germany, Herve cheese is a type of Limburger which is still produced in the territory of the old Duchy of Limburg. Herve is located near Liège, and the borders separating Belgium from the Netherlands and Germany. The "Pays de Herve" is a hilly area between the Vesdre and Meuse rivers.

In the US, it was first produced in 1867 by Rudolph Benkerts in his cellar from pasteurized goat's milk.[2] A few years later, 25 factories produced this cheese. The Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, Wisconsin is the only American company that makes this cheese. It is also manufactured in Canada, where it is a German-Canadian cultural marker, by the Oak Grove Cheese Company in New Hamburg, Ontario.


In its first month, the cheese is firmer and more crumbly, similar to the texture of feta cheese. After about six weeks, the cheese becomes softer along the edges but is still firm on the inside and can be described as salty and chalky. After two months of its life, it is mostly creamy and much smoother. Once it reaches three months, the cheese produces its notorious smell because of the bacterium used to ferment Limburger cheese and many other smear-ripened cheeses.[3] This is Brevibacterium linens, the same one found on human skin that is partially responsible for body odor and particularly foot odor.


A half-pound package of Limburger, made by one of the only two American makers of Limburger.

One of the most traditional forms of eating limburger is the limburger sandwich. After three months, when the cheese has ripened, it becomes spreadable. The cheese is often spread thick (> 0.5 cm) on firm-textured 100% rye bread, with a large, thick slice of onion, and is typically served with strong black coffee or lager beer. Alternatively, for heartier eaters, chunks or slices of the cheese up to 1.5 cm thick can be cut off the block and placed in the sandwich. This sandwich still remains very popular among the descendants of German immigrants residing in the midwest part of America, such as in Cincinnati, or German Village in Columbus, Ohio. However, it is markedly less popular among the descendants born after ca. 1960, mainly because of the permeating smell, and the inconvenience of going to specialty cheese and sausage shops to obtain it. In Wisconsin, the Limburger sandwich can be found on menus at certain restaurants, accompanied by brown mustard.[4]

Limburger and its characteristic odor are a frequent butt of jokes and gags. Reactions to, and misinterpretations of, the smell of limburger cheese were gags used in numerous Little Rascals and Three Stooges comedy shorts.

In 2006, a study showing that the malaria mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) is attracted equally to the smell of Limburger and to the smell of human feet earned the Ig Nobel Prize in the area of biology.[5][6] The results of the study were published in the medical journal The Lancet on 9 November 1996.

Nutrition facts[edit]

28 grams of Limburger contains 5 grams of saturated fat and 8 grams of total fat. 67 of the 92 calories in the 28 grams are from fat.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crump, Marty (2009). Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers: & Other Unusual Relationships. University of Chicago Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780226121871. 
  2. ^ "Limburger Cheese, History of Limburger Cheese, Limburger Cheese Sandwich Recipem How To Make A Limburger Sandwich". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Fox, Patrick. Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology. p. 200.
  4. ^ "page does not exist". April 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Ig Nobel Prize list of past winners". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Knols BG (November 1996). "On human odour, malaria mosquitoes, and Limburger". Lancet 348 (9037): 1322. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)65812-6. PMID 8909415. 
  7. ^ "Nutrition Facts and Information for Cheese, limburger". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 

External links[edit]