July 23, 2021
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Yancey’s Fancy focuses on promoting flavor as it offers new products, tagline

Photo courtesy of Yancey’s Fancy
BOLD INNOVATION — Yancey’s Fancy has just added a new line to its packaging facility for slices, which will allow it more flexibility and variety in its shingle slice offerings. No matter what format, the company focuses on the “wow” factor and is constantly introducing new flavors, says Yancey’s Fancy CEO Brian Bailey.  

Photo courtesy of Yancey’s Fancy

CLASSIC TASTE — Known for its flavor-added cheeses, Yancey’s Fancy also offers classic, European-style cheese. Last spring the comapny launched its Grand Reserve line of Gouda, Bergenost Havarti, Bergenost Havarti with Caraway & Scallion, and Chastinet Asiago.

By Rena Archwamety

CORFU, N.Y. — Yancey’s Fancy, known for its wide variety of flavored cheeses, has a new tagline: “Your Trusted House of Flavor.”

The company’s focus on flavor, however, has not changed, only grown over the past two decades.

“Flavor, whether inherent in the cheese itself, or what we added to the cheese, always has been important to us,” says Brian Bailey, CEO, Yancey’s Fancy. “We really focus on bringing as much flavor as we can — in a good way — to the people consuming our cheese. We want it to be a delicious, fun and flavorful experience every time they try it.”

Yancey’s Fancy started in 1998 when Bailey joined with John Yancey and Mike Wimble (both now retired) to purchase Kutter’s Cheese, a small cheese factory that had operated since 1947 outside Buffalo, New York. Bailey previously had been a partner with Kutter’s Cheese.

Bailey, a seasoned cheesemaker with a background in Swiss varieties, began creating a variation of Yancey’s XXX-tra Sharp Cheddar for the company, as well as a Horseradish Cheddar that was developed by Tony Kutter when his family owned the factory.

“The Horseradish Cheddar was the first of its kind,” Bailey says, adding that since Kutter taught him how to make the flavored specialty, he has done “a million” variations on other bold, flavor-added cheeses.

Yancey’s Fancy focuses on the “wow” factor — “Like ‘Wow that’s sharp!’ ‘Wow that’s creamy!’ ‘Wow that’s hot!’” Bailey says. “When you try our cheese, you don’t say, ‘Is that a hint of horseradish?’ You know it’s in there.”

The Horseradish Cheddar continues to be a bestseller, along with the XXX-tra Sharp Cheddar, Buffalo Wing Cheddar, Smoked Gouda and Smoked Gouda with Bacon.

One of the more interesting flavors that also is a large seller is Steakhouse Onion Cheddar, which originally was inspired by blooming onion-flavored potato chips.

“My production manager was in the lunchroom and said, ‘Man, we should make a cheese that tastes like this!’ We went to work and created Steakhouse Onion,” Bailey says.

He notes that all Yancey’s Fancy flavors start in a similar manner — with an idea from him or someone else, whether an internal employee or a customer.

“We wonder how that would taste, and we do it. I put on my mad scientist outfit and make something,” Bailey says. “The best part of my job is developing new stuff. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

Yancey’s Fancy always has five or so new flavors under development and is constantly introducing new flavors, which has become a trademark its customers expect and enjoy. In addition to its constant influx of new flavors, Yancey’s Fancy recently has introduced new and expanded lines and formats.

The company has just added a new line to its packaging facility for slices, which will allow it more flexibility and variety in its shingle slice offerings. Previously, Yancey’s had been contracting with an outside partner to package its slice varieties, but this was limiting growth. Varieties will start with the handful of flavors it already was offering — including Horseradish, Buffalo Wing and Roasted Garlic Cheddar shingles — and could expand through the entire catalog of cheeses.

“Our cheese isn’t easy to slice. Because of the flavors, you have to clean up before each run,” Bailey explains. “Now we can do anything between 6 ounces up to a couple of pounds. We have more flexibility to meet the customers’ needs.”

Along with this new capability, Yancey’s Fancy is starting to turn more attention to opportunities in foodservice. Up until now, the company has worked on some custom orders for customers who needed specific cheeses for burgers, but the business largely has been driven by retail.

“It’s kind of our undiscovered country. We’ve been so busy with retail — we do a little foodservice business, but are almost in it by accident,” Bailey says. “Our focus in the coming year is about looking at foodservice and an opportunity and to get ourselves off the ground in that segment of the business. I think with the advent of the ability to slice cheese, we’ll try and tailor some of our offerings or create new offerings for the needs of both retail and foodservice.”

Another newer format for Yancey’s Fancy is its line of spreads, which was introduced in late summer 2019. Unlike traditional and cold pack spreads, Yancey’s makes its spreads in a more homestyle, rustic format with the chunks of cheese still visible, “like you were making it at home, making it for guests,” Bailey says.

The spreads are available in Buffalo Wing, Hatch Chile and Horseradish with Scallion flavors, and Yancey’s is looking to do more sampling of these in the near future.

“COVID hit a few months after we launched (the spreads), which cut out in-store sampling,” Bailey says. “When people sample our cheese against others, it’s been effective. I think the cheese spreads have been held back because of sampling restrictions and COVID, and we’re going to focus on moving them forward.”

While Yancey’s is known for its unique and bold flavored cheese varieties, last spring the company launched its Grand Reserve line to highlight its traditional, European-style cheeses. In this line, the flavor of the cheese stands out on its own.

“The Grand Reserve line grew out of an exercise we did. We were looking at market leaders in Cheddar, Gouda, Havarti and other stuff. We went out and got a bunch of products that were category leaders and matched what we were doing up against that. We were stunned at how much more flavor we had,” Bailey says. “Then we took it to our customers and gave them the challenge. We gave them our competitors’ cheeses and our cheeses, and we came out hands-down winners. We thought, ‘We need to communicate this!’”

The Grand Reserve line includes Gouda, Bergenost Havarti, Bergenost Havarti with Caraway & Scallion, and Chastinet Asiago. Yancey’s is planning to expand this line, with some new varieties currently under development.

Yancey’s Fancy is focused this coming year on communicating and highlighting its flavors through its product lines, and through more comprehensive marketing and promotion of its new tagline. “Your Trusted House of Flavor” grew out of the company’s realization that its flavors and flavor levels really stood out compared to other offerings on the market, Bailey says.

“You’re always looking for the magic phrase. We keep our head down and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, and do what we need to do,” Bailey says. “We’ve come to the realization that we offer a whole lot of flavor compared to what’s out there. And it’s a good thing to do, to call attention to that. But we’re not telling anyone anything they didn’t know already.”



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