Only in York County

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Talking about schmierkase (smierkase) and Continental Congress News

Reader Jim Fahringer shared this letterhead from Continental Congress News.

Today, I have notes on a couple of topics to share. First is an interesting one that’s been waiting for a while from a longtime reader about the item seen above, and then I have some details on the Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy of smierkase or schmierkase.

Jim Fahringer had written some time ago, asking, “I am looking for information about a newspaper and association with York ties. The name of the newspaer was ‘The Continental Congress News’ – the official organ of The Continental Congress Association. This newspaper had a Los Angeles address – 623 North Avenue 54, Los Angeles 42, California. It was published in the 1930s or 1940s. At least of the contributing editors was from York and lived in the 200 block of East Philadelphia Street in the 1930s and 1940s. More of the contributing editors could be from York. One of the contributing editors was my uncle, James Lau, who was the Handwriting Expert. Another York person was Anna Custis, who was the Astrology Editor. I would appreciate any info that you or your readers could provide.”

Jim shared the image seen with today’s column of the Continental Congress News letterhead, and added, “There may be other Yorker names on this editorial staff. I feel the name of this newspaper and the name of the Association may also have a York connection.” He also noted that his uncle James Lau used the pen name James Law for his articles in this publication.

I would love to hear more about the Continental Congress News! I have been able to find very, very little about this publication in either local or national searches, so I hope some reader will know more.

Onto another topic, I want to follow up today on a February 2015 question from reader Connie Pickard, who had asked where to find smierkase (sometimes spelled smiercase or schmierkase). This spreadable cheese delicacy is tasty and a little bit different than cottage or cream cheese, and I had some friends looking across Central Pennsylvania for it to no avail.

But my Only in York County readers came through! Phil Franco wrote, “Being familiar with old Baltimore smierkase, we found a perfect smierkase at Saubel’s Market in Shrewsbury. Both my wife and her parents agree that it is the best they have ever had. Send your readers to check it out.”

Sherm Keeney noted that “cup cheese,” another name for that treat, can be purchased at Shenk’s in Lancaster County for $4.89 a container. “Shenk’s is located on 1880 New Danville Pike in Lancaster; their phone number is 717-393-4240,” Sherm noted.

Meanwhile, from Ingeborg Brunnegraeber of Red Lion, I heard, “The spelling is Schmierkäse. You can Google it and you will get the German recipes which are translated for you by the site. It really is like a cream cheese, in fact, Schmierkäse translated is spreadable cheese.” I always called it “smeary” cheese, so that made sense to me, and I’ve seen a number of varieties of the spellings, more or less Americanized!

And finally for today, I have a note from Judy Eisenhart of York, who writes that many years ago, she looked for smiercase to use at a Pennsylvania Dutch-themed party. “I went to Eastern Market and was told it could not longer be sold because it wasn’t pasteurized,” she said, which matched my understanding. But, Judy continued, “I did get a ‘taste of the past’ last fall at Landis Valley Farm Museum. They made smiercase and apple butter and it was SO good (even though they put the smiercase on the bread and topped it with apple butter… I grew up eating if the other way around.)”

Judy, that sounds amazing. Now I’m hungry! Any other recommendations on where to get smierkase/schmierkase/smiercase locally?

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.