Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, Tillamook County was home to many dairy farms and industries. In 1909, the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) was formed in order to regulate and consolidate the various dairy products of the county. A plant was developed by the consolidation in the 1940s, which became known as the Tillamook Cheese Factory. A visitor center and gift shop were also built adjacent to the plant.
TCCA is located west of Portland, Oregon, near the Pacific Coast, on Highway 101 North. It is southeast of Tillamook Bay and Bay City in Tillamook County. The TCCA is featured by the Oregon Coast Visitors Association and the Tillamook Chamber of Commerce.
The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00am to 6:00pm from Labor Day to Mid-June. From Mid-June to Labor Day, the Visitor Center is open from 8:00am to 8:00pm. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. In celebration of their 100 year anniversary on August 1, 2009, the Visitor Center is offering musical entertainment, product sampling, and games for children. The Center admits over one million visitors per year.
Some of the products manufactured at the plant include cheese, ice cream, butter, and yogurt. They create over twenty flavors of ice cream. The plant remains famous, however, for its quality cheeses, such as five styles of cheddar, three Jack cheeses, Mozzarella, and Colby. There is also a kosher cheddar cheese and a couple of reduced fat cheeses. These products are marketed in loaves, shredded, or sliced.
The quality and characteristics of Tillamook cheeses are attributed to several factors in its production. The first is the quality of the milk provided by dairy farmers. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is equipped with a Cheddarmaster machine. It is a large, stainless steel machine with a six-foot wide conveyor belt that drains whey from the curds. The factory was equipped with this automatic machine in 1990. After the curds are drained, an enzyme is added to coagulate the curd. Tillamook Cheese Factory uses a vegetable-based enzyme that is kosher and halal approved. Another key process is the specific aging process, which is used to develop the taste and consistency of the cheeses. The cheddar cheese, for example, is aged for no less than 60 days in a temperature controlled environment.
Tillamook products have been received with acclaim, having won awards for both their cheeses and their ice cream at the National Milk Producers Federation contest and the Oregon Dairy Industries dairy products contest. Similarly, their business and financial acumen have been recognized by industry magazines like Dairy Foods and the Portland Business Journal. They have also been recognized by the International Dairy Foods Association.
In 2005, the TCCA ensured that their products would not be made from cows given rBST. rBST is a protein hormone that is given to bovine animals to increase milk production. The suppliers of TCCA are certified not to use rBST and all of Tillamook's products are free from rBST.
The Visitor Center includes a caf‚ that sells grilled cheese sandwiches and cheeseburgers. The gift shop sells their dairy products as well as numerous memorabilia, accessories, and collectables. In 2008, TCCA opened an online store to supplement their marketing.
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