Edwin Gossner Sr. was born in 1909. He came from the eastern region of Edliswiel-Waldkirch, Switzerland where five generations of his family had lived as farmers. Today, the seventh generation of Gossners carry on the family tradition and continue to maintain the same homestead that has been a part of the family heritage for all these years.
Due to a declining European economy and limited prospects for the future, Edwin Gossner decided to seek a new life in America. He immigrated to the United States in 1930, scarcely speaking a word of English, and immediately went to work for his older brother Ernest in Wisconsin. Ernest had preceded Edwin seven years earlier to the U.S. after graduating from the Swiss Cheesemaking School of Switzerland and now owned his own cheese factory. For the next three years Edwin Gossner served his own apprenticeship and learned the art making fine Swiss cheese following the traditional methods of the old country. In 1933 Edwin married Josephine Oechslin of Darlington, Wisconsin and she was to be a major influence on him all their married life. Two children, Edwin, Jr. and Dolores, soon followed.
It was also in 1933 that his brother got an offer elsewhere and Edwin was asked to take over as Cheesemaker at the Burke factory. He held this position until 1937 when the factory burned down. Edwin then moved on to California where he accepted a position with the Rumiano family making cheese. While there he converted the plant from a Monterey Jack to a Swiss cheese facility. This was to be an invaluable experience as he was able to improve upon his knowledge of making Swiss cheese utilizing milk from cows fed on fermented feeds (silage) instead of fresh feed. The traditional method of making Swiss cheese did not allow for the use of milk from cows fed on silage, but he proved that it could be done. This was an important new concept that Gossner would later successfully employ in Cache Valley.
Ed kept an eye open for a place of his own where he could make Swiss cheese. In 1941 he located such a place in Northern Utah (Cache Valley) while on vacation to Yellowstone National Park with his family. Cache Valley proved to be an ideal location with its climate and elevation closely resembling that of Switzerland. And there was more than an abundant supply of milk with hundreds of dairymen producing locally. By the end of the year Gossner had moved to Utah and was set up for business. Within five years he had built up what was at the time the largest Swiss cheese making factory in the world, producing 120 two hundred pound wheels of cheese a day.
In the ensuing years Gossner was the guiding force in upgrading Cache Valley milk production to Grade A market status. He brought sustained benefits to the dairymen by opening new markets for them and increasing their overall profits. Gossner also made important innovations such as introducing to the area the means of making processed cheese and a more efficient recovery method of whey by-products.
In 1966 Edwin Gossner and his family began anew by starting Gossner Foods. Again the focus was placed on making Swiss cheese. They started with a half vat of milk (12,500 lbs.) every other day and Ed was quoted as saying that he would be happy if he could make up to two vats (50,000 lbs.) every other day. Today, over 25 years later, Gossner Foods uses over a half million pounds of milk a day for cheese production. In 1967 Gossners began packaging a line of cheeses starting with Swiss, Cheddar and Monterey Jack. Eventually Muenster and others were added so that in time over 30 varieties carried the Gossner name.
Edwin Gossner had his eye on the future. In 1973 he helped establish Swiss Village, a cheese manufacturing plant in Nampa, Idaho and in 1982 he brought out a new fluid milk product that utilized ultra high temperature packaging technology. Rather than compete with the existing Grade A milk market this new technology allowed Gossners to open up new marketing avenues. Gossner Milk can be kept unrefrigerated at room temperature for months and as such has proved to be highly desirable to the military community and others. Today, Gossner Milk travels all over the world with our troops, and it is sold in places as diverse as Puerto Rico and Panama where milk supplies and refrigeration are limited.
The mainstay of Gossner Foods continues to be Swiss cheese. It is made using the same formula that Edwin Gossner developed years ago. The Gossner Swiss cheese is a specialty cheese that has a milder flavor and softer body than other Swiss cheeses, yet it remains distinctly Swiss. Gossner Foods now utilizes state-of-the-art equipment for aseptic packaging and cheesemaking and is currently exploring new ideas to expand its product line.
When Edwin Gossner died in 1987 he left behind as part of his legacy a well-oiled machine that consisted of a corps of caring, knowledgeable, and well-trained employees. It is duly noted that were it not for these dedicated people Gossner Foods would not be what it is today, a successful family business.
Three of the original four members of the Gossner family that came to the Valley in 1941 are no longer with us. During their lifetimes, Edwin, Josephine, and Edwin Jr. were greatly respected in the community and received numerous civic awards in recognition of their involvement and contributions. That tradition of service to the community continues to this day at Gossner's.