Cheesehead 25th Anniversary


Six-man pro
Like the guy in the article, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing one ... but my kid sure is upset he left the one he bought when we were in Wisconsin a year or so back ... ... eedID=5059

Cheeseheads are a joke that never gets old

FOX Sports Wisconsin
August 18, 2011

You know you’ve made it in the sports memorabilia business when the product you’ve dreamed up is associated with a team and a state almost as much as that team's logo.

Just ask Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang.

“When we’re traveling to other teams’ stadiums, you see 10,000, 20,000 Cheeseheads up there,” he said. “It definitely brightens up your day a little bit.”

Turns out the Cheesehead — created as a joke at a Milwaukee Brewers game back in 1987 — is now proudly celebrating its 25th NFL season.

“It’s really an icon,” said Denise Kaminski, who works with her husband, Paul, at Foamation, a St. Francis, Wis., company that was created by Ralph Bruno on the strength of one product: the Cheesehead.

Though the headgear is mainly associated with the Packers these days — at Lambeau Field even more than on the road — it didn’t start out that way. Bruno first wore one to a Milwaukee Brewers game at Milwaukee’s old County Stadium.

“Our neighbors to the south were calling us Cheeseheads for so long, I never really thought of it as a bad thing,” Bruno said. “I love cheese and appreciate it. I was in the process of upholstering my mom’s couch and created the first Cheesehead to wear to a Brewers game.”

But the new invention wasn’t out of the bag yet.

“I was with my friends and I had it in a paper bag. They didn’t see it at the time,” Bruno said. “I brought it out and they kind of scattered. But after they saw the response it got from girls in particular, they took turns wearing the hat.”

A Wisconsin legend was born.

“All through the game, it was really just the attention that the hat got and the smiles on people’s faces, the finger pointing, ‘Hey, Cheesehead! Hey, Cheesehead!’ ” Bruno said. “It kind of stuck with me to the point that I researched the manufacturing side a little bit.”

It wasn’t long until Bruno’s product began showing up at stadiums everywhere, and its iconic status grew from there. When the US Mint coined the Wisconsin state quarter in 2004, the Cheesehead was in consideration for a spot on the back.

“There’s a Cheesehead in the Smithsonian,” Denise Kaminski said proudly. “They’re used a lot for election campaigns.”

When the Packers visited the White House during training camp, President Obama even mentioned the Cheeseheads he saw while looking out at the South Lawn. The Packers didn’t give the well-known Bears fan one on their visit, but Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, once received a Cheesehead during a campaign rally in Wisconsin.

Just don’t expect Lang to wear one.

“There’s no way I’d ever put one on my head,” he said. “First of all, I don’t think it would fit. Second of all, I think they’re kind of dumb-looking. For the fans, though, man, they love them.”

Of course, Foamation has branched out and even been imitated, and you can check out the company’s entire product line — including Cheesehead ties, earrings, footballs, toilet seats and more — at

“At the Super Bowl, we introduced a new hat called the Fedora,” Denise Kaminski said. “It’s basically like what Vince Lombardi wears, or Bear Bryant. It’s pretty popular. We also have a Cheesehead belt, which everybody who watches the Packers knows Aaron (Rodgers) does that wrestling (belt) move.”

Because of trademark concerns, the process for making official Cheeseheads is secret. But Paul Kaminski did reveal what he could.

“It’s basically a reaction between two chemicals mixed together and put into an enclosed mold,” he said. “You mix the two chemicals in amounts that are prearranged by the machine, and you mix them together to initiate it. And once they’re mixed together, the reaction is quite fast.”

Producing a Cheesehead has to be fast, especially with demand high in the wake of the team’s Super Bowl victory.

“Usually in the course of a six-hour day, it can get (to) about 120 mediums, about 80 or 90 smalls and maybe 100 larges,” Paul Kaminski said. “If there’s a Super Bowl and more people are working, you can multiply that and you can get pretty good numbers out.”

Since Super Bowl XLV, Foamation has been fully staffed despite the NFL lockout and what usually would be a downturn in demand during the offseason. In addition, the company is celebrating its 25th year with a special coffee table book coming out this fall.

But what happened to Bruno’s prototype, donned at County Stadium all those years ago? It remains in Bruno’s possession but recently was displayed at a museum in Madison. And even though you can’t have that one, you can have your own, like the one Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett has.

“Well, I don’t own one, but my kids actually own them,” Pickett said. “They have them, and they bring them to the games sometimes. It’s pretty hilarious to me.”

Even after 25 years, this is one joke that never gets old.’s Bill Huber contributed to this story.