Anyone traveling between Kansas City and Branson Missouri via Highway 13 plans their journey around a stop midway in Osceola, population 800. Located on the northwestern shores of Truman Lake, savvy travelers know they will find the eleven cleanest restrooms anywhere right here in Osceola.
But most folks stop for the cheese.
The Osceola Cheese Store has been a fixture in these parts since 1944 when W.K. Scott and his wife Ruth decided they wanted to tinker in the cheese making business. They called it Riverview Cheese then and nearly 1000 dairy farms in the area supplied milk for the cheese.
Business grew nicely for nearly 25 years until the Army Corps of Engineers began flooding 260 square miles of west-central Missouri to form Truman Lake. Osceola Cheese had to move up the hill to its current, very visible location on Highway 13.
That’s about the time Chris Hannah started hanging out at the cheese store. His mother worked there, and during the busy Christmas season, he would help pack orders that were shipped around the country.
It’s been more than 35 years since Hannah earned his first paycheck from the Osceola Cheese Store. Now, he and his wife, Lisa, manage the business.
Largest Cheese Store in the U.S.
The Osceola Cheese Store is considered the largest domestic cheese store in the United States, Hannah thinks. The store carries more than 200 kinds of domestic cheeses. Wisconsin string cheese is their best seller. On an average day, the Osceola Cheese Store sells about 1,000 pounds of cheese, along with crackers, sauces, jams and other goodies.
Take THAT Wisconsin Cheese Heads!
The most unusual flavor is Chocolate Cheese, which tastes a lot like fudge. But a flavor that is quickly gaining in popularity is a creation by Chris and Lisa Hannah’s son, Duel. A blend of javelina and Monterey Jack with a nice infusion of Ghost Pepper, which is well-known as the world’s hottest chili pepper, they’ve appropriately named the product “Hotter Than Hell.”
The Osceola Cheese Store no longer relies on local dairy cows to make these many varieties of cheese. Instead, “happy cows” in Wisconsin and a few in Ohio contribute to the goodies found on Missouri Highway 13, exactly half-way between Branson and Kansas City.