, , , , ,

Vintage Wisconsin: Pepping Up For Match With Sauerkraut

UW Boxers Pose With One Of State's Favorite Foods

Wisconsin Historical Images

All this month, Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life” is exploring Wisconsin’s love of sports and games, so “Vintage Wisconsin” is joining in on the fun. In the above image, University of Wisconsin boxers give their love to Wisconsin-made sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut has long been popular in Wisconsin. The state’s large German and central European population made kraut for home use but demand for the fermented cabbage made sauerkraut a thriving commercial product as well.

By the 1970s, Wisconsin produced nearly one-third of the nation’s supply, with production concentrated in southeast Wisconsin. And today, the world’s largest producer of sauerkraut is in Wisconsin. We clearly love the kraut.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

But, does it make us peppy? Well … it’s believed that Chinese laborers ate sauerkraut while building the Great Wall of China more than 2,000 years ago. Genghis Khan brought it to the eastern edge of Europe after plundering Asia. And in the 18th century, maritime explorers fended off scurvy on long voyages with sauerkraut.

Capt. James Cook left England for the South Pacific in 1768 with more than 7,800 pounds of sauerkraut. So, it seems possible that Wisconsin kraut pepped up these UW boxers.

The Badgers began boxing in April 1920 when they hosted an amateur “all university” boxing tournament at Red Gym. The UW took the leap to official intercollegiate boxing in 1933, and won eight team championships in the NCAA tournaments between 1939 and 1956. Perhaps they owe it all to sauerkraut.

Related Stories