Family & Company History
Nueske’s was founded in 1933 – the heart of The Great Depression – by R.C. Nueske. Times were hard for everyone and R.C. hoped that he could begin selling some of his family’s goods to ease their hardships and
keep the family farm afloat. The Nueske family had always hand-made traditional smoked meats created with
Old World recipes that the Nueske family had used since before they immigrated to this country in the 1880s.
These are the recipes that the family still uses, today.
R.C. loaded up the back of his automobile with the Nueske family’s freshly smoked hams, sausages, and bacon
and traveled through Wisconsin’s Northwoods, stopping at the many resorts in the area to see if people would sample his wares. Although money was tight, people knew a good thing when they tasted it and word of R.C. Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats traveled far and fast. Soon R.C. was able to focus his efforts entirely on smoking top quality meats and supplying them to resorts and home cooks in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats remains located in our hometown of Wittenberg, Wisconsin, and continues to be operated by the Nueske family, now in the third generation of business. Robert D. Nueske, son of R.C. and former president, passed away in January of 2015. Today, Robert’s daughter, Tanya Nueske, is the company’s CEO and Glenn Gazzolo is President of Nueske's Applewood Smoked Meats. Instead of being sold only regionally, Nueske’s has expanded greatly since its inception and now has distributors and a loyal following of chefs and food lovers across the nation.
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Specialties are well-known for our signature sweet, rich smokiness and consistently high quality – something which can be acquired only through the time and patience taken to slowly smoke hand-selected cuts of meat over glowing embers of genuine applewood. Each slab of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon is hand-trimmed and smoked over applewood logs for a minimum of 24 hours, allowing the signature smoky flavor of Nueske’s to develop slowly and permeate the entire cut of meat.
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon has proven a winner in taste tests time after time and has even received four sofi™ gold medals in just ten years (2001, 2006, 2009, 2010) from the Specialty Food Association (SFA, formerly NASFT). This means that Nueske’s was judged the best specialty meat in the whole nation four times over in an unmatched period of time. Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon has been mentioned in almost 100 books and cookbooks in the past decade, not to mention full articles in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune.
Nueske’s Wild Cherrywood Smoked Bacon, our newest product, also took the Gold sofi™ Award at the Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC, in 2011, in the special “Diet & Lifestyle Product” category. Our Wild Cherrywood Smoked Bacon is gluten-free, as are all of our smoked products, and is also all natural and minimally processed. Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Chicken Breast took 2012 sofi™ gold for “Outstanding Perishable Foodservice Product”.
The Nueske family continues to create a wide variety of specialty items, ranging from traditional German sausages like landjaeger and bratwurst to an Applewood Smoked Bacon that is hand-rubbed with fine Tellicherry peppercorns. Applewood smoked chicken, duck, and turkey breasts are available, as are applewood smoked hams, the honey-glazed variety of which is one of our most popular holiday items for gifts and at retail.
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats are served at fine dining establishments, steakhouses, cafes, and bistros across the country. You can also find our products at specialty grocers and delis. Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats are also available for personal use, via catalog and at www.nueskes.com.
If you’re ever in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, be sure to stop in at our company store and do some sampling and shopping. The family’s original smokehouse still stands to the west of the store entrance, along with other well-kept period buildings from Nueske’s beginning. Nueske’s smokes all of their specialties in Wittenberg and on days when the wind is right, you can smell the sweet, fragrant applewood smoke pouring out of the smokehouses when you pull into the lot.