Home > Cuisine by Brian Schropp > SCHROPP INVESTIGATES- THE COTTAGE CHEESE INDUSTRY

SCHROPP INVESTIGATES- THE COTTAGE CHEESE INDUSTRY

By Brian Schropp

After a very, very long absence it’s good to be back writing for The Lankville Daily News. Not only is this a full time gig (making a sweet $7.16 an hour) but I have been given a brand new column!! The fine folks who run this paper wanted a new perspective on cuisine- a more brash, harder look at the food scene. I promised them I was their guy for this sort of thing.

The other big change was saying good bye to my full time position at ‘The Pizza-A-Round’. I knew it was going to be a striking loss for the place, me, being one of the most innovative employees ever to work there. I thought, Scott, my manager, would be very understanding, especially since I was making sixteen more cents a hour. Well, I was very wrong about my assessment of the situation and not only feared for my life at various times during my two week notice but also the safety and well being of my fellow co-buddies and the customers (not to mention the various holes made into walls and pizza-related equipment destroyed). Everything worked itself out my last day there. After a very hellish eight hour shift in which Scott seemed to peak in his fury (not going through one but TWO Assistant Managers in just that shift) he came up to me very calmly with tears in his eyes my last hour there. “Hey Bri, I just wanted to say–” he almost broke down at this point “sorry I couldn’t match the extra sixteen cents the paper is giving you. It’s been a real pleasure having you here.” At this point he grabbed my right shoulder. “And if you ever need any help, I mean- ANYTHING, you come see me–pizza brother.” By now he was squeezing my shoulder a bit too hard causing extreme pain and wetting myself a little. But I knew his sentiment to be true, we had some amazing adventures together, little did I know at the time we weren’t done just yet!!

Scott Pizzaman- a great friend and ‘pizza brother’

So the next day it was time to get down and dirty and start my first article for my new column. A pressing question soon arose after my 10 AM breakfast- what should it be about? After being kicked out of the house by my folks (who have NO IDEA that a reporter can work from home) and riding my motorized mini scooter (oh yes, dear readers, another bit of news, I was able to secure a Lankville mini scooter license which I can use only around the Deep Northern Suburban area) the idea hit me all at once. In recent weeks the Deep Northern community has been talking about folks among us getting terribly ill after eating. No one has quite been able to pinpoint exactly what it is making people sick but one common thread seemed to be cottage cheese somewhere in the meal. Well, being an investigative reporter now, I had a hunch on who might be to blame. That’s right, Hank Cameron, the so called General Manager of the grocery chain ‘Foodville’. I parked my mini scooter a few blocks away from the store and crept my way up and into the establishment. Lady Luck was on my side when I saw ‘Mr. Cameron’ already by the cottage cheese and pulling them off the shelves with assistance from his low-level flunky, Benny. Hank seemed pretty animated and upset so I crept behind a display of Vitiello Decorative Hams to get a closer look.

Cameron- “This whole cottage cheese thing is going to ruin the business!”
Benny- “Yup.”
Cameron- “These dolts that live in this godforsaken area use it in everything-fruit salad, taco salad, shrimp salad, any type of salad really.”
Benny- “Yup-yup.”
Cameron- “What disgusting people. I’m just going to return this to the factory and get credit for a new order. No one is even certain it’s the cottage cheese anyways–”

Hank Cameron– so-called manager.

This was all of the conversation I caught as I suddenly fell forward and toppled the Decorative Ham display. I was promptly removed from the premises.

So maybe, but highly unlikely, this fool has nothing to do with selling bad cottage cheese. I knew the factory he was talking about, it was right on the outskirts of the Deep Northern area but I had no way of getting over there because my license didn’t go that far. What could I do?!! I rode around on my mini scooter until the battery ran out (by then, it was early evening). Then the answer came to me, it was right there all along, I had a ‘pizza brother’ I could call on.
Scott was more than enthusiastic to help me out. After explaining the situation he grabbed the keys to his ’87 Neptune and a handgun from the top drawer of his office desk. “Come on Bri, the damn Cottage Cheese Industry has done enough not only to this fine community but to my family personally, it’s time to get answers. Don’t worry I’ll explain on the way.” We were leaving a pretty busy dinner rush at ‘The Round’ but that was no concern of my mine anymore! (And even though it had only been a day it looked like the cleaning standards had gone totally downhill).
On the way over Scott tried to explain to me the personal reasons behind his hatred for the industry but honestly he had the radio up way too loud on his new favorite radio station 103.5 LDNS ‘Home Of The Heaviest Of Metal’ so I couldn’t hear. It seemed to be just incoherent babble between bottle swings of vodka but who knows- he might have had a legit gripe.
The radio was turned off as we made our way up to the factory on the outskirts of town, the sun was setting picturesquely behind it. After parking in the employee lot, I questioned how we were going to get inside. “We are just going to walk into the processing part and take a look around” Scott said while checking his gun and then putting it in his waistband. “And God help any fool who tries and stops us!”
I also had my camera on rent from the paper. I checked to make sure the film was in properly and then joked, “I’m locked and loaded as well!”
Scott just grunted and off we went. The employees leaving their shift for the day gave us some weird looks while we advanced into the processing plant but no one stopped us. Maybe because Scott was wearing his slightly tight ‘Pizza-A-Round’ shirt and they thought it was perhaps pizza related?
Both of us were taken aback by the huge machinery pulsing and humming through the plant once officially inside. It reminded me of some sort of 50s science fiction movie set.
Scott leaned in close, I could smell the vodka on his breath. “This all looks like some weird shit, Bri, how much does it take to make cottage cheese anyways?”
We decided not to be as bold and crept along crouching (which really really hurt my legs). After wondering through what seemed like a complicated maze of walkways and the such we finally spied some ‘factory workers’. It struck us that these ‘workers’ were wearing protective face masks, lab coats, and gloves. “Christ, Bri, why all the get up? Aren’t they just making some cottage cheese? Can’t they just wear overalls and use their bare hands? Something is wrong here, try and take a shot.”

​The only picture I was able to get!

Not sure if it was the click of my camera or Scott talking too loud but one of the workers turned around.
“Hey! Who’s over there, come out!!”

Scott stood up in full panic mode and drew his gun. “Bri, we gotta get out of here! If they catch us God knows what they will do- I never saw my Uncle again!!”
What??!! Was that what Scott was babbling about in the car? They did something to his Uncle?  Scott fired a few shots to give us cover to escape. I think we didn’t hit anyone, those workers hit the floor pretty quick and I could hear the bullets whizzing off all the machines. I was in full panic but somehow was able to call upon my investigating skills to navigate the way back through the maze. We didn’t waste anytime hightailing it to the parking lot and speeding out barely escaping what was called ‘The Cottage Cheese Industry.’

Editor’s Note- We at the paper would like to mention we have no definite proof of any wrong doing by The Cottage Cheese Industry or if even cottage cheese is to blame for the ill in Deep Northern Suburban Lankville.
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