What is a Cheesehead?

wiseGEEK Writer

Cheesehead is an interesting term, and especially demonstrates the skill of Wisconsin residents at making lemons out of lemonade, or more appropriately cheese out of milk. The term cheesehead began as a slanderous one, which was applied to the Dutch, who were known for their fine dairy products. Since Wisconsin later became known as the dairy state, cheesehead became a derogatory term for residents of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is known as the dairy state.
Wisconsin is known as the dairy state.

The term migrated to sporting events, where it might be thrown at Wisconsin sports fans who supported their home state teams, and that was enough to inspire Ralph Bruno, in 1987 to make an appropriate, eloquent and tremendously funny response. Using his mother’s sofa cushion, he created a cheesehead hat, which he proudly donned for a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the White Sox. Interest in the cheesehead hat soon bordered on obsessive, and Bruno launched the company Foamations, Inc, to create hats for every proud Wisconsinite who wanted one.

The term "cheesehead" was originally meant to deride Wisconsin's residents.
The term "cheesehead" was originally meant to deride Wisconsin's residents.

Though the hat was first worn at a baseball game, in the 1990s most cheeseheads donned the hat in support of the football team, the Green Bay Packers. Interest in this unusual ornament was quickly showcased by media covering football games, and only provoked the popularity of this chapeau. As the 1990s came to a close, the hats became even more popular, and the football team was receiving particular notice with back-to-back appearances in the 1997 and 1998 Super Bowl Championships. Hundreds of these hats were sported at these events, in support of the Wisconsin team.

What had started out as an insult had become, especially to sports fans, a mark of considerable pride. To call yourself a cheesehead is to reference your great love and support of the Packers. There is a bit of irony here, since the name Packers references meatpacking, and not the making of dairy products.

Should you feel the need to support your team by appareling yourself with a hat, Foamations Inc, has an online website which will allow you to purchase original hats, and many new takes on the original. You can thus support the Packers from anywhere on the globe, for less than $25 US Dollars (USD) for an adult hat, and less than $15 USD for kids’ hats. There are other companies that make the cheesehead hat, but many people loyally stand by Bruno’s original product.

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Discussion Comments


those "wisconsinites" can sure make some good cheese! has anyone ever tried cheese curds there? i often crave these little dairy concoctions, and wonder where i can get them in stores outside of wisconsin? are they difficult to make yoursef?

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