written by Julie Lee | featured photo courtesy of Tillamook Dairy Co-Op
From ice cream to mustard, Oregon is a hot bed of homegrown goodies. When idyllic climates combine with entrepreneurial spirits, abundance happens. In celebration of our great state’s birthday, here are some favorite products cultivated or originated in Oregon.
Number 1 Oregon Famous Food: Beaver Brand Condiments
It is the beaver state, after all. Beaverton Foods was founded during the Great Depression by Rose Biggi, who started the business in a basement, grinding and bottling homegrown horseradish roots. Biggi was joined by son Gene Biggi in 1950 to develop horseradish, mustards and sauces that no other companies were producing at the time. Pioneering trends, the company introduced the specialty squeeze jars we all know and love today and stays on-trend with innovations like the new German-style stone ground mustard. Now with 150 specialty condiments sold throughout the world and noteworthy awards including Hall of Fame honors at the Specialty Food Show, this busy beaver is on a roll.
Hillsboro | beavertonfoods.com
Number 2 Oregon Famous Food: Ancient Heritage Dairy Cheese
Oregonians love their cheese and national recognition is at an all time high for the artisan cheeses being crafted right here in our state. Moooove over, Wisconsin. Ancient Heritage Dairy farms has an inspirational story; Hank Obringer and father Paul Obringer packed up their Central Oregon farming experience, a penchant for producing handcrafted, award-winning European style cheeses and a long-range vision. They opened an urban production facility in SE Portland to ruckus applause from local restauranteurs, who can now get great cheese from down the block for some ingenious dishes.
Portland | ancientheritagedairy.com
Number 3 Oregon Famous Food: Wine
If there’s one thing that has put Oregon squarely on an international map of coveted agriculture, it’s wine. Or specifically, the grapes that get crushed into what you drink nightly. From the Willamette Valley to Southern Oregon, from Eugene to the coast, great vino is produced throughout the state. With Willamette Valley recently being named wine region of the year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, we raise a toast of remembrance to Eyrie Vineyard’s David Lett, who planted some of the first pinot gris, pinot noir and chardonnay vines fifty years ago in the valley, now home to 530 wineries.
McMinnville | eyrievineyards.com
Number 4 Oregon Famous Food: Ice Cream
We owe a lot to cows in Oregon. Not only do they gift us with some damn fine cheese, we’re also graced with some delicious ice creams. From artisan spun ice cream, found in nearly every city on the coast, to Salt & Straw garnering the attention of former Vice President Joe Biden and Oprah’s favorite things list, ice cream and Oregon is a match made in creamery heaven. While well-known Umpqua Dairy was founded in 1946, we tip our straw to the grandfather of all things ice cream, cheese, and butter: Tillamook. The Tillamook County Creamery Association was founded in 1909 as a farmer-owned cooperative and it’s been producing award-winning products ever since.
Tillamook | tillamook.com
Number 5 Oregon Famous Food: Chai Tea
What was once a ubiquitous beverage became an Oregon favorite, then a national sensation, thanks to Portland native Heather Howitt, who discovered chai tea on a trek through India’s Himalayas. After experimenting with various mixtures of spices, vanilla and honey, she landed on a sweeter version of what she first tasted and Oregon Chai was born. Her company went from a wispy $20,000 in sales in 1994, with product being made by Howitt and her mom in a church basement, to $15 million in 2000.