Posted by Mike Wendt on June 1, 2010 Jump To Comments
Sports fans in Wisconsin and Illinois have always clashed over which of their favorite teams are better then the other. Whether it be college football, professional football, or Major League Baseball, nothing makes Wisconsin fans feel better than beating our neighbor to the south. The Packers-Bears rivalry is the longest rivalry in professional football, and the Packers have had upper hand since 2000, beating the Bears 12 times in 20 games. Things look bright for the future too, as Aaron Rodgers is 3-1 against the Bears in his two seasons as a starter.
The rivalry actually gave birth to one of the most iconic articles of clothing that can be seen by the hundreds on gameday in Green Bay. Although it has become popular in other cities, only one fan base is known around the world by its name. The one thing Wisconsin fans can thank Illinois for is giving us the inspiration for the Cheesehead.
Coming off the 1985-1986 season that ended in a Super Bowl victory for the Bears, people in Illinois began to get pretty cocky. The Bears had defeated the Packers both times that season, and they would go on to beat the Packers in each game for the following three seasons. Bears fans began mocking Packer fans during games, giving us the nickname “Cheeseheads” because of the amount of cheese Wisconsin produces on a yearly basis. People in Illinois thought they had gotten under the skin of Wisconsinites, but little did they know the amount of pride people in the Dairy State had for the place we call home. Immediately Wisconsin fans embraced the moniker, but it wasn’t until 1987 when “Cheesehead” was taken to another level. Although many people believe the Cheesehead hat originated at Lambeau, it actually made its debut at Milwaukee County Stadium at a Brewers’ game. The founding father, Ralph Bruno, had embraced the Cheesehead nickname, and was inspired to take the nickname to another level. In a 2008 interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Bruno said he got the inspiration while fixing his mother’s couch.
Bruno told the Star-Ledger “I was reupholstering my mother’s couch when I got the idea. People from Chicago would call people from Wisconsin ‘cheeseheads’ in sort of a negative connotation. But I liked cheese and I figured what’s the big deal? So I cut out a piece of the cushion of the couch, burnt some holes in it and painted it to look like a big slice of cheddar cheese.”
Bruno wore the hat to the Brewers game and it became and instant hit among fans. Bruno eventually began to sell the Cheesehead to Wisconsin fans at other sporting events, and once it became successful he founded Foamation Inc. which today sells a wide assortment of foam cheddar products. Drop over to his website and take a look at some of the products Foamation Inc. offers, which range from Cheddar neckties to magnets to full size cheddar footballs.
So thank you Bear fans. Your cockiness gave us one of the coolest hats in history. I plan on getting down to Chicago for a Packers-Bears game in the future, and when I do I’ll be wearing one of the two cheesehead hats in my collection. And if it obstructs the view of a few Bear fans, they really only have themselves to blame.
Love the article? Hate it? Any unique cheesehead products in your closet? Let me know at email@example.com