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Mauthe's Dairy: Bringing History to the Home Front

By Brandi Perry, Photos by Doris Lowe

Located in southern Pike County, in the small town of Progress, Mississippi, sits a family dairy farm called Mauthe’s Dairy. Jamie and Kenny Mauthe have called this farm home for several years now, and even though it looks like any other dairy in south Mississippi, what the Mauthes are doing with their milk products is not seen anywhere else in the south.

Dairy farming is nothing new for the Mauthe family. Kenny, a third-generation farmer, just followed in his family’s footsteps. His grandfather started milking cows in the 1930s in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and delivered the milk door to door. In the 1950s, when the city started expanding and the 9th Ward became more residential, the family moved to the North Shore of Louisiana and Folsom to have more land and soon picked right back up where they left off. The family delivered their milk door to door for the residents in St. Tammany Parish.

Jamie and Kenny got married in 1980 and moved to North Louisiana for affordable land and moved some 180 cows to a 300-acre farm there. Just four years later, they knew it was time to move back toward home, and they were able to find the beautiful green stretch of land they have now, just 45 minutes from home. Unfortunately, the dairy industry was just about surviving for the Mauthes at the time but milking 10 hours a day as commercial dairymen put a strain on the farm and the finances. They knew they had to do something to change their current path. They were on the verge of losing everything they owned just trying to keep up with supply and demand. In 2001, as they were making the decision to step out on their own, they decided to just start bottling their milk. Little did they know, this small decision would pay huge dividends for their family and farm very soon.

" We had a contact of where we could sell our milk. We just needed a starting point,” Jamie Mauthe explained. “She gave us a contact with Richard McCarthy and the Crescent City Farmer’s Market, and the doors just started opening for us.”

McCarthy wanted an overall market where someone could come and shop for all their farm-to-table needs, and he felt that Mauthe’s Dairy would fit perfectly into this equation. While at the farmer’s market, Poppy Tooker, the Governess of Slow Foods, was doing a demonstration on how to make Creole Cream Cheese. The Slow Foods organization was focused on authentic and cultural foods instead of fast foods that took away from the region. For a lot of foods that were extinct in a region or headed towards extinction, Slow Foods would try to show folks how to make it to encourage a comeback. Creole Cream cheese was one such example. This authentic breakfast dish is made from skim milk cheese with heavy cream poured on top. It was tart. People added sugar to it and spread it on French bread or just ate it straight out of the container. No one had made creole cream cheese for 20 years. Borden’s in Jackson were the last ones to do so. On the way home from the meeting at the farmer’s market, the Mauthes decided they would give making creole cream cheese a try. But, when they figured out how to make it, they soon realized they could not find any molds to put them in. One of their connections from early in their dairy career reached out and told them he had bought all the cream cheese molds from Borden. A deal was struck, and the Mauthes became the owners of all the molds, and the trade was an old rusty shotgun.

In 2001, they launched their creole cream cheese business and started going to farmers markets in New Orleans. They thought they were doing well because they were selling 100 cream cheeses at the market, and the milk was just their lagniappe product. A Times-Picayune article by Tooker from Slow Foods about them bringing creole cream cheese back ignited a storm. She told them it was going to be a big deal, but they could not imagine what came next.

To prepare for the wave of orders they were nearly promised would be coming in, Kenny was sometimes working 24 hours a day and hired a man that had made the cheese before with Borden’s. They just knew they were prepared with what they took to market that day.

They went into the market with 500 creole cream cheeses, and they were all sold within 45 minutes. From that tremendous day of selling and from the article, 20 stores reached out to the Mauthe family, asking how they could sell it. Additionally, all the restaurants in New Orleans wanted it because the only place they could get such a product was in Europe.

By November of that year, they were attending three to four farmers markets a week, and someone suggested they should make a creole cream cheese cheesecake because they were worried the newer generation may not catch on to the creole cream cheese and it would run its course as it is an older recipe. The first order of cheesecake went to Mr. Boatner Reily, a purveyor of coffee and condiments, and just like that, another door opened for the hardworking Mauthe Family.

In the summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina came rushing toward the south and seemed to put their life on hold for the next five years. However, the Mauthes see that time of being shut down as a blessing. They had four teenagers in school, and the event gave them time to attend school and sporting events they would never have been able to see otherwise.

In 2010, they started back and somewhat felt as though they were starting over. But they got a much-needed boost when they won the first scholarship given by the John Besh Foundation. By winning this, it allowed them to get the farm back in working order by purchasing labels for their milk and adding to their herd.

Today, Mauthe’s Dairy milks 60 cows twice a day, and they process everything on site. Summer heat sometimes creates a shortage in product, and they must determine what deliveries to make and which ones to push back. Whereas in the spring, there is often a surplus, and it usually gives them a chance to get caught up on anything they are behind on. With a brand new production building nearly complete on-site, their hope is to take some of the overflow product and turn it into cheese.

Their hope is that the creole cream cheese remains stable in sales. They are currently selling around 1,000 creole cream cheeses a week, and now, Perrone’s Specialty Foods is delivering their creole cream cheese to Rouse’s Supermarkets throughout the New Orleans area. Fortunately, it will not be much longer until Perrone’s starts delivering their cheesecakes to those markets as well.

At this point in their story, Mauthe’s Dairy makes and sells cheesecakes, creole cream cheese, butter, whole milk plain yogurt, buttermilk, heavy cream, chocolate milk, skim milk, reduced milk and whole milk. When asked where they thought the operation would be in three years, Jamie and Kenny both said they think that coffee milk will be the next product they try to push out, and also the cheese. The sky is truly the limit for the Mauthes, and we are so excited to see what amazing product they release next.

Mauthe’s Dairy can be found every Saturday at the Covington Farmer’s Market and they usually attend the Mississippi Farmer’s Market every week. Additionally, you can purchase their products at the Walthall County Co-Op in Tylertown, Improve Grocery and Grill in Sandy Hook, Acquistapace’s in Covington as well as several other local stores in both Mississippi and Louisiana carry their products. Finally, they do also sell directly from their store at the farm if you just cannot find what you are looking for.

If you need to reach out and find out more about where you can find them, or if you are interested in stocking their products in your store, reach out to them at (601) 542-3471. They are on Facebook and are located at 2033 Joe Tucker Road in McComb.

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