Behind the Label: Der Scharfe Maxx | culture: the word on cheese
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Behind the Label: Der Scharfe Maxx

Kaserei Studer's Der Scharfe Maxx

The label for Der scharfe Maxx was designed to grab your attention—and reflect the flavor of the trailblazing washed-rind cheese inside. Produced at Switzerland’s Käserei Studer, the “Feisty Bull,” as it is often dubbed in the US, was developed by innovative cheesemakers eager to experiment with new products after the 1999 collapse of the Swiss Cheese Union (a government agency that strictly limited the country’s cheese production for much of the 20th century).
The raw cow’s milk wheel is complex and pleasantly funky, with savory, oniony notes balanced by the richness of cream added during the make process. Scharfe translates to “sharp”—not only a nod to the cheese’s pungency, but also a cheeky reference to the nickname for one of the original cheesemakers (the word can also mean “horny”).
The red bull image was created after an earlier design by an outside agency was deemed not “strong” enough. “When [a cheese] is so different, why not be really different?” says marketing manager Beate Fussenegger. “Other products on the market were associated with cows, hayfields, and mountains. And with a name as special as ‘Scharfe Maxx’—really bold things have to play together.”

Kristine Jannuzzi

Food and travel writer Kristine Jannuzzi (aka @nyccheesechick) fell for formaggio the first time she tasted Pecorino Toscano in Florence some 20 years ago. She has been a frequent Culture contributor since 2013, and her work has also been published in La Cucina Italiana, Italy Magazine, and British Heritage Travel, among others. A bilingual dual American and Italian citizen, Kristine currently hosts private cheese tastings and visits to cheesemakers in Tuscany.

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