The Fascinating History of the Cheesehead

Almost every town in each country has a tradition that may sound incredibly strange to those who don’t live there or who are only visiting for a while. For example, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, people raise a giant Hershey’s Kiss every New Year’s Eve. For the entire state of Wisconsin, they have the Cheesehead.

Cheesehead is a term in the United States for someone who comes from Wisconsin or a fan of the Green Bay Packers team. The state of Wisconsin is associated with cheese because it historically produced more dairy products compared to other states in the United States. In fact, it has the nickname “America’s Dairyland.”

The use of the term “cheesehead” as a derogatory word for Wisconsinites began with Illinois football and baseball fans to refer to the opposing Wisconsin sports fans. However, the term was quickly embraced by Wisconsinites and used as a point of pride. There’s also the cheesehead hatpopularized by center-fielder Rick Manningwhen he saw it while playing. If you want to know more about this, read on as we’re giving you the fascinating history of the cheesehead.

The Origin of the Packers Cheesehead

The term cheesehead stems from the sour, long-lived, and passionate rivalry between the Packers and the Chicago Bears. In 1985, when they won Superbowl XX, fans of the Windy City started calling their rivals “Cheeseheads” derogatively. It was like calling someone an “idiot.” However, this insult went wrong because they gave a new symbol of pride to Wisconsin’s residents as cheese is exactly the most important product in this state.

The Wisconsin natives did not get offended. In fact, a man named Ralph Bruno attended a Milwaukee Brewers game in 1987 while wearing a hat with a design similar to a piece of cheese. He created it out of foam padding from an armchair. Since then, it has become a popular piece, especially for sports fans and Wisconsin residents.

Instead of being teased for carrying the alleged piece of cheese on their heads, Brewers fans asked Bruno to create hats for them, too. Bruno had also worn the hat to a party, and a girl approached him and asked if she could try it on. During those times, he was able to see the potential that he had as a business. Using his experience in the patent area, he started to think about how to make patterns to be able to create more cheesehead hats.

Bruno has eventually started making the Packers cheesehead hats and later sold them at sporting events in Wisconsin successfully. After the success, he was able to establish a company called Foamation Inc., which is the one that manufactures products alluding to cheese under patent registration. The company is a success in that region, and the Packers made it popular.

The Popularity of the Cheesehead Hat
a cheesehead hat

The Packers had a long dry season after winning Super Bowl I and II. But when 1997 came, Brett Favre, laurels re-greened, and Green Bay fans became proud of their team again in Super Bowl XXXI, when they crowned themselves at the expense of the New England Patriots. That was when the Packers Cheeseheads gained significance.

The famous has, which strengthened the identity of Green Bay fans, the smallest city in the entire NFL that owns a franchise, became popular beyond the confines of Lambeau Field when the team conquered Super Bowl XLV by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was there when the Cheeseheads remained an undeniable symbol of the identity of one of the most compelling franchises in the NFL.

The Cheesehead Hat as an Original Symbol of Pride

According to Ralph Bruno, the cheesehead hat he created had become a symbol of pride, not only for the residents of Wisconsinbut as well as for all the Midwest people. He does not know exactly how many hats he sold, but it is enough to create a line of cheeseheads from New York going to the West Coast.

Today, current versions of cheesehead hats not only include the original cheese chunk or slice designbut other variations, as well, including cheese protection helmets, cheese baseball hats, and more.  Aside from manufacturing the iconic Packers cheesehead hat, his company also makes all kinds of foam products.

The influence of the cheesehead hat is so significant that the logo of the Green Bay Packers was even modified to combine with it. It served as an emblem of the football team. However, the emblem changed in 1956 when the image of a player throwing a pass with Wisconsin’s silhouette and an oval in the background was used. Then, in 1961, the iconic “G” was introduced. It was modified in 1980, when the yellow outline was included, to match perfectly with the cheeseheads.

In the present time, using a Packers cheesehead hat is more than a symbol of pride, as it is also a representation of a great team.

We hope the information we shared in this article helped you in learning more about the fascinating history of the cheesehead.