In the Giving Season, Give Cheese


Only true Green Bay Packer fans are able to recite the origin of the foam hat designed to resemble a mighty wedge of cheese. All others must rely on Google and Wiki, neither of which are stellar fortresses of accuracy.

According to lore and corroborating websites, Chicago Bear fans began taunting Packer fans with the Cheesehead term after the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986. Packer and Brewer fans embraced the nickname, and sometime in 1987, a chap named Ralph Bruno created the first wedge of foam cheese while cutting up his mother’s couch, perhaps otherwise destined for a landfill. Or porch. Or alley. Necessity is once again the mother of invention. Bruno later started a business to sell the Cheeseheads as novelty sporting apparel. Foamation, Inc. of St. Francis, Wisconsin owns the Cheesehead trademark and manufactures dozens of other cheese-related foam products, including bowtie, baseball hat, championship belt, dagger, and (Lombardi-like) trophy.

Fast forward to November 4th. Jamie Kiesl, while sporting a Cheesehead at a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game, was able to name 27 different cheeses in 30-seconds as part of a fan contest. She also demonstrated multi-tasking skills by holding a young daughter on her hip during the contest. A Bucks player, Sterling Brown, only named 17 cheeses in the pre-recorded segment for the contest. When asked about knowing so many types of cheese, Kiesl was said to have replied, “I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life.” The Journal Sentinel summed it up best by noting, “There is nothing more Wisconsin than this.”

And now, holiday shopping approaches, complete with lists for the naughty and nice. Why not make it a little more Wisconsin this season? In the giving season, give some Wisconsin cheese. Artisan cheese shops large and small are equipped with on-line ordering capabilities. These shops offer a wide selection, including obscure and exotic, all reflected in the price. Without playing favorites, a jolly old elf may call out, “On Bass Lake Cheese Factory, On Cady Cheese Factory, On Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery (Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin) and On UW-River Falls Falcon Foods (note: the student-run cheese plant reopens in 2019 following extensive renovations). . . .” When in doubt about cheese shops and respective locations, try an elf named Google.

This season, give cheese. There is nothing more Wisconsin.