Walworth, Wisconsin with Kikkoman
From the title of this post you may be thinking ‘Where on earth is Walworth? And why is there an Instagram photo of Chicago?” Let’s rewind a little so I can explain. A few months ago I was invited by the amazing people at Kikkoman to begin working with their brand as an ambassador. It didn’t take much convincing for me to say YES because I have fond memories of literally using GALLONS of Kikkoman soy sauce in culinary school.
We all know that soy sauce is fabulous with sushi and is a wonderful addition to any marinade but it can do so much more than that. It is a ridiculously versatile seasoning agent that adds incredible depth of flavor to so many different types of foods and cuisines.
Kikkoman invited four bloggers to Walworth, where Kikkoman’s MASSIVE U.S. factory is located, to learn more about the brand’s rich heritage and the true versatility of soy sauce. We all flew into Chicago, hence the aerial shot of the Chicago skyline, and drove over to Wisconsin. The above picture is of us four bloggers: Whit, me, Rachel, and Ericka.
It was Whit’s ingeniously goofy idea to pose out the letters that make up KIKKOMAN (Whit being the MAN if you didn’t catch that) in front of the factory. Don’t mind my eyes which are completely closed. It was surprisingly sunny.
We got to tour the unimaginably humungous factory with the Kikkoman folks where their soy sauce and other products are made. Before this trip I really had no idea how soy sauce was made or that Kikkoman’s soy sauce is vastly different from most generic brands of soy sauce. Kikkoman has been making soy sauce for over THREE HUNDRED years. That’s insane. In fact, there’s a short but fascinating documentary on the heritage of the Kikkoman brand and the story behind the Japanese company building a factory in the middle of the American heartland following World War II in 1970s. Every Kikkoman employee we met was full of passion and pride for the brand and we were all shocked to learn that most employees work for Kikkoman for over 15 years.
Seeing the giant vats of fermenting soy and wheat and learning about the months that go into producing soy sauce was completely fascinating. The entire operation is an impressive amalgamation of techniques that have been passed down for nineteen generations and new technological advances that have allowed Kikkoman to distribute soy sauce across the world. I had no clue how much effort went into producing that bottle of soy sauce that I can easily pick up at the store without second thought.
Not to mention how these proprietary techniques make Kikkoman different from those other generic brands. Kikkoman prides itself on creating a soy sauce that is basically three ingredients: soybeans, wheat, and salt. After I got home from this trip I dug through my pantry for a bottle of generic brand soy sauce to see what the ingredients are: “water, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, corn syrup, salt, caramel color” were all on the label. Needless to say that bottle was tossed in the trash.
We ended the trip with something mostly unrelated but completely beautiful boat trip. Lake Geneva was only a short distance away so Kikkoman kindly took us on a boat trip to enjoy the beautiful day and gawk at the crazy crazy houses on the water. This picture is from my Instagram.
By the way, if you’ve got any culinary prowess you may want to check out Kikkoman’s Master Sauce Contest over on their Facebook page. You can submit your favorite soy sauce based recipes to 4 different categories: salad dressing, BBQ sauce, stir fry sauce, or marinade for a chance to win a cool $1000 bucks.
This post is sponsored by Kikkoman. All opinions provided are my own.