First cheesehead hat made from couch
By Mark Konkol Staff Reporter
If those ridiculous cheese-wedge hats — the ones favored by Packers fans that fit perfect over a mullet — make you sick, it’s your own fault, Chicago.
Wisconsinite Ralph Bruno says he came up with the cheese hat idea in 1987 when he first became aware Chicago fans had started referring to folks from “America’s Dairyland” as a bunch of cheeseheads.
“I like cheese,” Bruno said. “I didn’t find being called a cheesehead that offensive.”
So he made a hat out of foam he was using to upholster his mother’s couch into what’s now the iconic Cheesehead hat.
“I cut the foam into a wedge, burned holes in it to give it some cheese character and gave it some color,” he said. “I wore it to a Brewers game. Some of my friends wouldn’t walk alongside me. Then, a girl came up to me and asked to try it on. They all wanted to wear it after that.”
His parents thought he was crazy when he quit his job to start Foamation — manufacturers of foam cheeseware from bow ties and key chains to Frisbees and bricks, which are favored by what the company website calls “Extreme Cheeseheads.”
Bruno says he’s sold hundreds of thousands of cheese hats nationwide over the last quarter century — and he still has the original head wedge at home.
“It’s typical for a person from Chicago to shoot his big mouth off. Well, look what calling us cheeseheads got you,” Bruno says. “Now, we wear it as a badge.”