A man wearing a cheesehead hat in a football stadium
A Packers fan wearing a "cheesehead" hat with a beef stick.
Original formDerogatory term, now a common nickname
ContextWisconsin is "America's Dairyland"

Cheesehead is a nickname in the United States for a person from Wisconsin[1] or for a fan of the Green Bay Packers NFL football franchise.

Current usage

Wisconsin is associated with cheese because the state historically produced more dairy products than other American states, giving it the nickname "America's Dairyland."[2] The use of the term "cheesehead" as a derogatory word for Wisconsinites originated with Illinois football and baseball fans to refer to opposing Wisconsin sports fans. The term, however, was quickly embraced by Wisconsinites and is now a point of pride.[3]

Cheesehead hat

Rose Bruno first saw a cardboard "cheesehead" hat at a Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago White Sox game in Chicago in 1987 worn by fellow Milwaukeean Amerik Wojciechowski.[4][5] Ralph Bruno later made the first one out of foam while he was cutting up his mother's couch. It was made popular by centerfielder Rick Manning, who saw the hat while playing.[6][7] Bruno started a multi-million-dollar business to sell the hats as novelties. The "Cheesehead" trademark is owned by Foamation, Inc. of St. Francis, Wisconsin, which began manufacture of the wearable, foam "Cheesehead" in 1987.[8] Along with the original Cheesehead "wedge", Foamation has made other similar "cheese" apparel, including baseball caps, cowboy hats, and earrings. In 2023, Bruno sold Foamation to the Green Bay Packers, making the Cheesehead official Packers merchandise.[9][10]

The Cheesehead gained attention in 1995, when Packers fan Frank Emmert Jr. was flying on a private plane back to Wisconsin after attending a Packers game against the Cleveland Browns and the plane crashed due to ice accumulation. Emmert suffered a broken ankle and other minor injuries but was saved from further serious injury when he used his Cheesehead for protection in the crash.[11]

In 2013, sports fans of Chicago replied to their rivals by wearing cheese graters.[12]

Other origins


  1. ^ Kapler, Joseph, Jr. "On Wisconsin Icons: When You Say 'Wisconsin', What Do You Say?" Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 85, no. 3 (Spring 2002), pp. 18–31.
  2. ^ Kane, Joseph Nathan; Alexander, Gerard L. (1979). Nicknames and sobriquets of U.S. cities, States, and counties. Scarecrow Press. p. 412. ISBN 9780810812550. Wisconsin – America's Dairyland, The Badger State ... The Copper State ...
  3. ^ Foamation: About Us, archived from the original on 2009-03-02.
  4. ^ Foamation, Inc. v. Wedeward Enterprises, Inc., 947 F.Supp. 1287 (E.D. Wis. 1996)
  5. ^ Cigelske, Tim (September 8, 2005), "When I was 30: Michael Bednar: Cheeseheads were spreading", MKE, archived from the original on August 1, 2007.
  6. ^ "Greg Garber News, Videos, Photos, and PodCasts - ESPN".
  7. ^ "State honors cheesehead hat creator".
  8. ^ "Trademark Serial Number 75106687". U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 1996-05-20. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  9. ^ "Green Bay Packers acquire cheesehead hat-maker Foamation", WTMJ-TV, July 24, 2023.
  10. ^ "Green Bay Packers acquire maker of Cheesehead hats". July 24, 2023. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  11. ^ "Cheesehead May Have Been a Livesaver". Chicago Tribune. 9 November 1995. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  12. ^ Cheddar shredder - Chicago Tribune, 26 December 2013
  13. ^ "What is a Cheesehead?". Wise Geek. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  14. ^ Prescott, Peter (2005), Encounters with American Culture (1963–1972), Transaction Publishers, p. 218, ISBN 1412804965. "... and the stupidity of a dozen "cheesehead" jurors who couldn't care less."
  15. ^ Charrière, Henri (2001). Papillon. France: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon Ltd. p. 3. ISBN 0060934794. "Look at them, there in front of you. Can you see them clearly, those dozen cheeseheads brought to Paris from some distant village?"