Maytag Dairy Farms

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View of the Maytag Dairy Farms from the visitor center

Maytag Dairy Farms is a manufacturer of blue cheese and other cheeses based in Newton, Iowa. It was established in 1941 by Frederick Louis Maytag II.


The farm had a modest origin when in 1919 Elmer Henry Maytag, son of Maytag Corporation founder Frederick Louis Maytag I, purchased a single cow to provide fresh clean milk for his family.[1] E.H. Maytag soon thereafter began to develop a small herd of champion Holstein-Friesian cows that would supply milk to his community while winning a vast number of blue ribbons at livestock shows across the United States. Within a few years of buying his first cow, E.H. Maytag had likely created the finest herd of Holstein-Friesians in the U.S. The offspring from his herd began to attract buyers from around the world.

Upon E.H.’s death in 1940, his sons Fred and Robert Maytag assumed leadership of the farms. [2] It was Fred Maytag-President & CEO of the Maytag Appliance Company who pursued his idea of creating a uniquely American blue cheese made from cow’s milk. Fred collaborated with Iowa State University dairy researchers to pioneer the first great American blue cheese that would compete with classic European cheeses such as Roquefort made from sheep’s milk. The cheese plant and caves were completed a year later and the first wheels of Maytag Blue Cheese were formed in October of 1941. The milk from Maytag's Iowa Holsteins resulted in a rich, creamy cheese that resembled the flavors of European bleu cheeses. Ever a visionary, Fred sold his cheese in a unique new way—by catalog—essentially creating the practice of mail-ordering food that thrives today.

Fred’s son Fritz Maytag ( assumed leadership in 1962 and led the small family company for the next 50 years. During these five decades, Fritz saved from bankruptcy and imminent closure San Francisco’s legendary Anchor Brewing Company and pioneered America’s craft brewing movement. In the early 1980’s, Fritz collaborated with his friend Peter Kump to buy James Beard’s Greenwich Village townhouse and preserve it as a center for America’s burgeoning culinary arts. In 2003, Fritz was awarded the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional ( and in 2008 won the Beard Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement ( Fritz now serves as Chairman Emeritus and a director, along with his brother Ken Maytag and sister Martha Maytag Dannerbeck Peterson.

Present day[edit]

The cheese is still made entirely by hand in the small cheese plant that Fred constructed more than 75 years ago in the shadow of E.H.’s milking barn. The prize-winning herd is gone, but the barn remains and the company uses fresh milk from neighbor dairy farmers. The hand-formed wheels are aged for approximately six months to reach the peak of cave-ripened perfection.

Maytag Dairy Farms is now owned by eleven members of the Maytag family and led by E.H. Maytag's great-grandson John Dannerbeck, who is Chairman of the Board and Treasurer.[3]

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