A tradition of doing it your way

In 1908, a group of enterprising farmers in Bongards, Minnesota formed the Bongards cooperative. Their goal was to craft the premium dairy products that the market demanded, and to offer the superior quality that area families deserved.

Since then, we’ve built our heritage on always doing things the right way — the customer’s way. Click on the photo of our beloved Bonnie the Cow, above, for a visual timeline of our history.


1908 — Local Minnesota farmers gather in Bongards, Minnesota to form a Co-op Creamery. They purchase land for the future site for $233.

1909 — Operations begin with cream and butter production, at the creamery’s first facility in Bongards, Minnesota.

1942 — The original creamery expands, adding an office, R&D lab, another cheese-making room, new equipment and a refrigerated storeroom.

1944 — Bongards celebrates its first $1 million dollar year, producing over 3 million pounds of cheese.

1946 — Bongards expands production by acquiring the East Union Creamery, and enters the dry whey protein market.

1948 — The co-op acquires the Green Isle Creamery.

1949 — Bongards is hailed as “one of the world’s largest cheese factories,” with nearly half a million pounds of daily milk capacity.

1958 — Bongards celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1968 — The co-op introduces the first automated continuous cheese making system. It’s capable of converting 1.5 million pounds of milk into 150,000 pounds of cheese — Cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack — and 85,000 pounds of whey every day.

1969 — An explosion, likely due to a gas buildup, destroys two creamery building and damages several others.

1978 — Bongards begins experimenting with flavor infusions, including smoked cheeses and Monterey Jack with bacon. The company now processes up to 1.75 million pounds of milk daily.

1983 — Capacity increased through installation of a state-of-the-art cheese vat built in Sweden — the first of its kind in the U.S.

1984 — Bongards now offers 10 varieties of cheese, plus butter and whey.

1988 — Co-op celebrates Jack Budahn’s 50-year anniversary as manager of Bongard's Creameries.

1999 — Bonnie the Cow is featured in “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” a movie featuring scenes shot in Minnesota.

2003 — Bongards buys Perham, Minnesota cheese and whey manufacturing facility.

2007 — Bongards’ Paul Wendt is named 2007 Cheddar Block Cheesemaking Champion by the Upper Midwest Dairy Association.

2008 — Bongards celebrates 100th anniversary in business.

2010 — Commodity processing program is offered to K-12 schools, pilot plant opens and Bongards buys Humboldt, Tennessee manufacturing facility.

2013 — New headquarters opens in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Today — After more than 100 years in business, Bongards is now serving more customers and delighting more consumers than ever before! 

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