Our Story

For 110 years, we’ve stood behind the honest values of our farmer-owners. It’s from them we’ve learned passion can’t be faked, hard work can’t be outsmarted, and real food is worth fighting for.

The Morning Star ship in 1854
Our History
Let’s start at the beginning.
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Travel back in time to see what’s changed since 1909 and, more importantly, what never will.

Some of the first settlers in the Tillamook Valley.

1851: The Tillamook Valley

The first European settlers arriving in Tillamook Valley find a silver lining to the wet, cool climate. All that rain makes green, green grass: perfect for raising dairy cows.

1854: The Morning Star

Tillamook’s farmers have butter and milk to sell—but hauling it over rough mountain roads takes so long, it would spoil.

The fastest route to Portland is by water, so they build Oregon’s first official ship—the Morning Star—to carry their dairy goods to market.

The Morning Star ship used to bring cheese from Tillamook to Portland.
Peter McIntosh who is the Cheese King of the Coast.

1894: Cheese King of the Coast

Renowned Canadian cheesemaker Peter McIntosh brings his cheddar cheese-making expertise to Tillamook County, where he teaches the locals all he knows, earning the nickname “Cheese King of the Coast.”

1909: When It All Began

Several small creameries join forces to ensure all cheese made in the Tillamook Valley will be the same high quality. Each creamery contributes $10 to start the cooperative: the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA).

Several small creameries form Tillamook Creamery.
Slogan: Look for Tillamook on the rind.

1921: Our First Slogan

Tillamook is officially trademarked! Our first slogan—“Look for Tillamook on the Rind”—let folks know that the cheese wedge they brought home was genuine Tillamook quality. Running ads in Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles pays off: sales skyrocket, and demand grows.

1930s: On The Rind

How did we put the name Tillamook on each and every cheese? Read this handheld stamper backward, and you’ll see. In addition to a loaf stamper, we made a flat version so you could roll a round cheese wheel over it. Every TCCA creamery had one.

Cheese stamper.
Cheese inspectors make sure our cheese is of the highest quality.

1931: Highest Quality

High standards, start to finish: that’s how our cheesemakers win awards. Milk inspector Guy Ford, a former farmer, makes sure dairy farmers keep everything on the farm up to TCCA quality standards. Cheese inspector Fred Christensen visits every TCCA creamery, grading the cheese.

1947: Making Ice Cream

We start making ice cream as an experiment, selling our original ice cream brand, Tillamook Maid, around town. When the new plant opens, we swing into full-scale production. By the ’50s, you could buy Tillamook Ice Cream all around town, up into Clatsop County, and south to Lincoln County.

An ice cream truck.
Our new high tech plant.

1949: Fueled by Innovation

The new plant features innovative ideas. The triple-deck system in cold storage lets us stack cheese higher without crushing cheese on the bottom. Carl Fenk, on the lift truck, slides a one-ton load of cheese into an empty slot.

1958: Prize Winning

When we say “Tillamook is the prize-winningest cheese,” we’re not talking through our hats. By 1958, when this ad ran in West Coast papers, our cheesemakers had already taken home hundreds of awards—with hundreds more to come from state, national, and world competitions.

Our prize winning cheddar ad.
Tillie of Tillamook.

1958: Tillie of Tillamook

Sweet-faced Tillie of Tillamook, a little brown Jersey cow, helped us promote Tillamook Cheese for more than 50 years. She popped up in ads as our spokescow, then came to life, so to squeak, as the beloved rubber toy you see here.

1966: Packaging Redesign

Tillamook packaging is redesigned to make it easier for customers to identify genuine Tillamook Cheese. This new packaging incorporated an illustration of our historic Morning Star ship.

Tillamook packaging gets a redesign.
Tillamook supports the local football team.

1980s: Go Cheesemakers

A big supporter of local schools, we’ve always been proud of Tillamook youth—proud enough to feature the high school football team in a Sunset magazine ad. (Later on, when they needed to rebuild their stadium, we donated $150,000 to get the project rolling.)

1993: Sour Cream Hits the Scene

Introducing: tangy, creamy Tillamook Sour Cream made with high-quality milk, enzymes, and cream. From this day forward, baked potatoes and nachos would never be the same.

Tillamook's sour cream debuts.
Tillamook's first yogurt!

1994: Yogurt Debuts

Tillamook Yogurt makes its debut. Fruit finally gets the yummy showcase it deserves, and spoons around the world rejoice.

2001: Second Cheese Creamery

Our farmer-owners clearly see—based on the popularity of Tillamook Cheese—that we need to increase our cheesemaking capacity beyond what’s possible at this creamery.

In 2001, we open our second cheesemaking plant in Boardman, Oregon, with the same recipes, strong values, and high-quality standards. Now, employees in both of our creameries are working day and night to keep up with our fans’ appetites!

Tillamook opens a second creamery in Boardman.
Tillamook's Centennial

2009: 100 Years

We celebrate 100 years as a farmer-owned co-op…hooray! Some of our current farmer-owners are even the great-great-great grandchildren of our pioneering founders.

2010: Loaf Love Tour

We roll out our first Loaf Love Tour, touring the country in custom, bright-orange VW buses on a mission to “Bring tasty cheese to the people!” The tour kicks off in Tucson, Arizona, traveling to more than 100 cities in nine states.

Loaf Love Tour
Tillamook: Dairy Done Right.

2015: Dairy Done Right

With an audacious new marketing campaign, we put Tillamook’s lasting commitment to quality—Dairy Done Right—in the spotlight. The bold ads take a stand, using straight talk to tell food fans about the dairy choices they make every day.

2016: Great Food Drive

For the 10th year in a row, we sponsor the Great Food Drive, a fundraising campaign to support the Oregon Food Bank’s fight against hunger in our state. Over the years, we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the food bank provide meals for people in need.

Great Food Drive.
Tillamook's new Creamery, built in 2018.

2018: Our New Creamery

Welcome to our new Creamery (take a digital tour here), rebuilt in 2018 to create an even bigger and better experience for generations of Tillamook fans to come.

Who We Are

A Tillamook farmer among his cows.

Driven by our mission.

Every day we aim to connect farmers and food lovers through better-made dairy products. This means doing the right thing by our farmer-owners, our employees, our communities, and our consumers. Always.

Joined by our values.

From the factory floor to our HQ office, the barns to The Creamery, everyone here at Tillamook knows that to make the best dairy products, you need a certain kind of passion. A passion that’s been burning since 1909, passed down through the generations, and so powerful it propels us forward.

A Holstein cow out in the green pasture.

Our Promise

This is Dairy Done Right.

As farmers we know we can’t just claim the word “right.” First, we have to believe in it. Then, we have to earn it.

*All farmers who supply milk for Tillamook products pledge not to use artificial growth hormones. The FDA has stated that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST treated and non-rBST treated cows.

Holstein cows walking in their barn next to a green pasture.
Stewardship
Taking Care Of Tillamook
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Our success is about more than an incredible loaf of cheddar (although, that’s a fine place to start). What we do here is all wrapped up in how we treat those we work with and the world around us. In every aspect of our business, we stand by our guiding principle, which is to consider every stakeholder and always do what’s right for the long term. Always. We uphold our tradition of doing things right by committing to a business model rooted in Stewardship.

A red tractor in a barn.

Uncompromising Quality

We make real food from simple, wholesome, and delicious ingredients chosen with care. Our recipes are time-tested, our milk is from cows who are artificial growth hormone free, and our standards ensure the best possible care is taken at every step towards the finished product. It’s an unwavering process that’s earned us over 800 awards and counting.

Leaving Our Mark

As the largest employer in Tillamook County, we aim to create jobs that can last a lifetime and a culture that feels more like a family. We also make it a priority to give back to those nearest and dearest to us by providing support for community programs, scholarships, volunteer events, and more.

A multi-generational family stands inside their barn with their cows.

We recognize Tillamook’s obligation to protect the resources that sustain us. It is not just our responsibility, it is our heritage. Tillamook dairy farms and manufacturing plants have successfully operated for more than a century in relatively sensitive environmental conditions. We have been able to do that successfully because of the attention we pay to our interactions with the resources around us. We firmly believe that consuming resources, like soil nutrients and energy sources, must be done conservatively and—where possible—regeneratively, in order to ensure they are available for years to come.

A red tractor in a barn.

Keeping Ourselves Honest

When it comes to partnerships, we’re picky. We only work with companies, growers, suppliers, and manufacturers who share our standards. In our own barns, our farmer-owners adhere to the high standards we’ve put in place over the years, as well as the standards for best practices in animal welfare and quality assurance set forth in the National Dairy FARM program.

Featured Articles

Happenings from our neck of the woods.

Growing with Great Partners

Our farmer-owners are dedicated to trusted quality and insist on working with best-in-class business partners only. Learn more about one of our long-time dairy farming partners, nationally recognized for its environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture practices.

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Tillamook Valley Heritage

Honoring Those Who Came Before Us

Our headquarters in Tillamook, Oregon, is built on the land of the indigenous Tillamook and other native peoples. We recognize the many tribes who call the north Oregon coastal region their ancestral territory, and it is important to highlight the continued sovereignty of these Oregon tribes who have a connection to this place we call home. With deep respect, we acknowledge those who were here first, and whose continued presence is important to our future.

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