Freeport (Illinois) High School and Monroe (Wisconsin) High School are separated by roughly 25 miles and one state line, but the two border schools have been united by their appetizing nicknames. The historic roots of each school’s nicknames – Freeport’s Pretzels and Monroe’s Cheesemakers – led them to come together and contest an annual series that is aptly dubbed “The Snack Bowl,” and just may be the tastiest rivalry in all of sports.
The Snack Bowl officially began in 2007 and is a six-course meal for hoops fans, offering boys and girls basketball games at the freshmen, junior varsity and varsity levels on a single day. Freeport won four of the six games in 2015 to take a 4-3 (one tie) lead in the series history, a win that was made even more significant because it marked the first year of a traveling trophy being awarded to the victor. See below to find out how each school got their unique monikers.
The nickname “Cheesemakers” is reflective of the heritage of cheese in Monroe, Wisconsin that still continues today. Known as the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA,” Monroe holds a biannual “Cheese Days” festival to celebrate the region’s award-winning roots in dairy. The city’s website lists five cheese manufacturing businesses currently within city limits, including the Chalet Cheese Factory, which is believed to be the only cheese factory in North America still currently producing Limburger cheese.
Freeport is known as The Pretzel City and the high school athletic teams provide a daily reminder of their salty heritage. In the late 1850s, many Germans, both from Pennsylvania and from their European homeland, resettled in Stephenson County and brought with them their love of pretzel snacks by opening pretzel bakeries. Freeport is one of two high schools in Illinois with the pretzel nickname, one shared with New Berlin High School.
Matt Troha is assistant executive director of the Illinois High School Association and a member of the High School Today Publications Committee.