Ep. 16 - The Cheesehead Origin Story

Bart Winkler
Thursday, August 30th
Bart talks with Ralph Bruno and Maggie Carter of the Original Cheesehead Factory. Find out how Ralph took an the insult of being called a "cheesehead" and turned it into one of the most popular fan products in the state of Wisconsin. Plus, there is a strong connection between cheeseheads and the Green Bay Packers, but the first Cheeseheads were actually sold at County Stadium! Find out which athletes and celebrities have championed the product over the years and if the rumored story of a cheesehead saving someone's life in a plane crash is fact or fiction! Plus, details on how to win a tour of the Original Cheeshead Factory with Bart! 
00:32:25

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Wings thinks podcast episode sixteen it I'm borrowing Clark. There is no fancied my brother was yelling Amy that I don't have a fancy just two weeks thinks kind cans and I may get that at some point. But I don't need it. These theatrics today because I really like what we're going to be talking about and then it's cheese heads. The original cheese at factories Donna Walker's point. And for whatever reason when I first heard that. I don't know where I thought that like the North Pole or what where I thought she says were made but the chi said products in the different formation products. A full on hauling a full blown my hand there's you know posters and everything that you can think of basically. They've done a formation she's had product for that's in lockers points of that in Milwaukee. Not only do they make the products there. You can tour the facility now and evidence to suffer that and I'm gonna go on a tour with some listeners who wins via the contest which is that. Station website 1057 FM the fan dot com that runs through next Friday a that'll be September 7. So as long as you hear this before September 7. Go sign up on a 57 FM the fan. Dot com a Ralph Bruno is in studio making carters and studio they work with the original cheese head company. Although Ralph that he's created. The cheese heads this is your. This is your baby. How I mean how did this all start I think is the first and obvious question that I don't have freer. Well it it's not like it was a big plan it was more of dangerous stuff. Odd combination of things. Are sent a lovely friends to the south. Have been calling announced she says forever. And so I'm I'm in a good way Welker yeah. And end I was involved in baseball Rotisserie League with a bunch of buddies of mine and one of the things that we do with that was go to a per game. And so we are slated to go to county stadium and agreement is some tailgate and of course on like. Op job personally I love she is so I thought I'll make a cheese head you know so I was in the top process of ripple stream my mother's couch. Which was kind of not a true business of mine which is a sidelight thinks I had always full. In the basement and upstairs and everywhere so I'd I ate I carved the triangle for starters. On in the shape of all like a kind of a wedge type season and added some holes which we ended up calling them Schmidt it's now. Adorned. Government holes or should minutes and and then canopy needed another color of a different she is so we got all these cheeses general look at one. And have this this half that I was gonna take to the per game put it in a brown paper bag. Mom went and game. And we're drinking are PB artisans. Millers and sit outside ready to go to the game. And guys like OK it's time to go so apple had out of the vague putting on my head. And start locking in my body's just like looked at me like what's. In Wentz were not doing any did you SCANA scattered right and saw mark and then going in oval confers seats and still learned. And my but is it just still cannot eyeballing me like he's yeah he's drunk nights in some stupid. By Daryl came running up to me wanted to try it out and soul com and editor at men and now my buddies are looking going out and skin chicks with. I pass I cannot solve all through the game we just kept taking turns pass in the had a round and you know it was a sight while others there might be something here. So okay first of all. This all started because of our total fantasy baseball league. And this is what year. 87. Dad now that's impressive the II Obama like sidetracked wanted to add on that a little bit. As I just. And years ago I joined my uncles league. That was created in the eighties. Man those leaks in the eighties and has stayed pretty still status or role since its status pro it's it kind of got can't. You know for a number years babies and went out and all that stuff got the weights off my uncle league if they are an opening. I didn't touch and I'd kick their butt and from there actually are my mom's. May name his bird Nelly so there always Bruno is not Cameron can. So we're basically family. Is on the same so you thought you had something here. Like any great story and it was influence because. Chicks seem to like it. So how did you say. I am going to make a second one how did that have and I have got the first line and going to make a second one Ammann selling. It's on soul I mean I meet gadget the. She confirmed. Self proclaimed an injury kind of person and and insult I'm well. I started trying to figure how well OK I know what the material is it's a seat cushion but where does that come from. And is it you know how can I get a bulk and what's what's it all about sold back in the game when there were only yellow pages as as a resource. You know the Internet wasn't there. Armed is kind of pulled out a yellow pages and found a company locally in the locker shock. On that sold polyurethane foam which I knew nothing about and with a whole bunch a luck of finding. The right people. That we're willing to say hey cut money in and we can talk about this mom you know my background was in pattern making and mold making and so. Put together a sheet that was similar like if first original cheese head and you know and and put it under my arm in pain in the visit and we came up with a formula I and color and off five gallon buckets later started you know mix seen pour rain and producing cheese heads. Howell. Quickly as they go from that. To where everybody was buying them a nice seamen airports and how quickly did you go to their 'cause I. I don't I mean I just have always known of cheese heads and I feel like as a kid growing up as well packer fan. With the obvious connection I just feel like I've always known. Of cheese heads. And how to think it's how long did it take to get to that point. So it was a again with my background of zero in marketing and sales and my age in abilities to speak properly it was very difficult. On for example the first true sales were right back get county stadium. Where I took garbage makes full of them and went on to try to get. To whoever they concessions it's sports service would it would they work. And so it took me two weeks of city now on a couch. And watching people walk by and the receptionist said. He should be here any minute now I'll. Finally somebody said you know kid I'd seen you here for. Out days on and what is the you're looking for and so I got to see the right guy and in he's he's sent out. We won't buy Campbell put him on consignment and I'm like I didn't know what that meant but I'm like yes cable do what. So it's to get it started as very slowly that way and then in the meantime after. That I went to on sporting goods store owners cheese shops. Kind of doing the same thing. Showing showing the wares in and I use at consignment. Method on a lot of the first sellers ever product we're in a company called in fund job. Million years ago in. So it is just kind of was you know just real common sense kind of things where. We are trying to get sales as you'll see them all. Our I think cheese heads become very tied in with the Packers. Why you wore your first on at a brewer game and and you were working at county stadium are working with kind stadium. To sell them there that sort of surprised me a little bit because of Powell. Almost in grain they are with the Packers at this point. Yeah of the Packard jumped. Again happened. On again all of this. It is pretty organic it's through the fan base it's it's it's not anything that were predicated in it's it's going where the flow is. And it happened in the mid ninety's. You know with Brett Favre. I'm going through his rookie year and I think it was. Tom and am I am real bad with older Packers are mixed names together Robert Brooks that's right okay so he. War com one of our in I think it was a cowboy hat. And it get good publicity that Wayne and then next thing you know people are is where an end to packer games. And we go to the Super Bowl and we have a Super Bowl caravan and Rio down the kiln Mississippi with thousands of cheese heads and Brooke. Visit the broke spoke. Brett favre's Brothers Byron and the end. I'll continue to go on win the Super Bowl later. That's awesome I mean I aid as as Tony Wragge go to these packer games. Once a year ago this'll be out on our eleventh year or so run to Seattle. To see Brett Conley now got traded him defeated and I could see him. You can always there there's a give there's a lot of packer fans that come from Wisconsin of these games and there's a lot they come from the Portland or Seattle or. Northwest area of the Seattle game they'll all be wearing cheese heads it's like they make sure that there. Wearing that. In California aren't San Diego you don't sound that resorted she's had today you from California yep yep. How why you were this season while I guess they can attest that she's had so I think it's cool that it's. You know you're gonna see a bunch of on the stadium in San Diego we went. That stadium is garbage which is why they moved. I it was like 70%. Packer fans and there's just cheese heads everywhere literal she says. And the actual people she says it does all over the place and I just. I got a thing for you when you see that you only see one like on the street seem priorities had just the way that it started to where it is now it's. I will be blown out of school it's a trickle I'm minutes. You know. The money aspect of it which you know where they're making cheese has every day it's now late. Living on an island retired or anything right now yes so you know we're surviving off of it that the rush that that is still. The company that's less to be able to keep the iconic thing going in elf for all the fan base but. The one of my favorite. Stand stories is is a guy that lived in Superior, Wisconsin that was. He was a pilot and he was in a small. Two seater airplane. He wasn't the pilot that they were there were two guys in there. They're coming back from the bronze packer game as he was originally from. Com from Ohio in and converted to a packer fan but he had his cheese head. With him of course coming back from the game and they're coming back up the superior and that intake and the airplane for rolls up. And the plane started going down in the pilot. Caught the tops of trees to slow the plane down in and they crash staple Flynn of and frank emirate as his name in and there was this photo that hits. The press where this cheese head was lane outside this plane crash. In the snow and all of a sudden our phone is ringing and people are going. You guys will stop at nothing to get publicity for a product I thought it was something we stage but it was a true. A true thing heat they were going down in heat reached behind his seat grabbed his she's had from behind there and put it in front of his face and claims it you know saved his his life definitely saved his base but. I'm anyway just just an amazing story that you can't make stuff like. I always thought it was made I always thought that was made up. Because there's the Cayman little bit of an urban legend but. It's true again at that guy was that a plane crash and that she's had promised they saved his life I mean yeah if you can always embellish a little bit but. I received saved his life I did I just really like the fact that you took some thing that was an insult. And turn it into something. Then that is not I go to these packer games like I said man cheeses like. Dickey beacon smelled it she's coming out of our pores if I just want to do want to Nashville Tennessee bar they're playing the titans. Just by those. Smell did not Dick Cheney's jays to tell us that the Tennessee game all right you know I'd drink a lot of these games and I had not joint. Simpson not chose I just drank that she's out of the I have to check yeah. I geez that's come anonymous phase but we do like cheese and you know it is sort of like. Thing that was Scott is known for and the fact that it's used as an insult them flipped around. That's on a light. Then that you did that Huntington's and school may be your onboard. With the season factory. And yet ideas are offering two hours. Yes so we offered to others every day Monday through Saturn game and we have two or is running all day every hour. And we just have started that about a year ago and have had a lot of fun at it with all the people that have been coming through a not only approach Wisconsin had not only. Across the nation here but we've had many. People outside the country coming in when they happen to be in Wisconsin they haven't here name and then have come in. Take it to curtail how did you think that that would be something to do right. And others breweries tumors and it's sitting here is there an old brewery yeah so it does have that feel. I just. I when he I don't know when you're at a place. That's a work is making cheese heads and I would think that now let's have people walk around and herein and check it out but he is very interest. Right right well it lit it was Rouse brainchild and it's something that a lot of people had been asking him over the years. When we're at our previous locations that they can't come in and just kind of see what in lake. Because there are a lot of people out there who'd just kind of see at the palm products and it's like oh it's all Israeli made abroad. But when they find out and it's a local companies here that still the inventor of the personal and still making them almost everything's made by hand to and so. It's is really fascinating for people so they wanna see how aware. And you have their first on we don't we do it's it's in the house someone that's still being president sometimes. I haven't seen it and it looks different. But it looks the same if that makes sense but it's just it's crazy that you still have on I'm glad that you had I don't know. If you kept an accident or in the foresight to keep it. Yeah my mom was very protective actually it stated it's the right in the hall closet smoker for many years atlas certain howitzer and it was a right yeah that's actually part of you that account Jenner had in mountain. People basically where couches on Manhattan's. Wouldn't we knew had the cheese head hat so that was switching names or eat into the games which tranda Sakai stadium. We use are making other stuff like I said I'm holding a football right now when did you start making other stuff. Saw you know with. Not everybody to this stage and in. Even back ten more were not interest in at all and wearing cheese and I get added you know it's a bit of the statement but. At that period of time which we kind of went from the prototype. To production in in it was virtually two weeks so apps. At county stadium the feedback that. We got in again. I I think it concede it's now that it was weird getting a little bit over rub from. On the upper. Ownership that didn't light the fact that this thing was coming in in two there and they weren't so you know. They they weren't a part of necessarily. The cause Canada's share. So it's somebody said Bud Selig said. That yeah I can't soul they said that it was infringing upon people's vision and you couldn't see past but Chinese had a funny too which. We know isn't the case and also. We came up with a baseball cap that was that the second product that we made was that she said baseball cap and it's still a very popular seller that we have and Tom you know that one was you know when you garbage bags of those going into county stadium on. Early on to. Give me five weird items that you. So there is the weird stuff and Enders stuff that's probably sells well yes so you that so what do you think Manuel. Well I top ones would be their energies that had of course the baseball cap ladies and also how to play Mimi are cozy and as an eagle on the cousy believe Colin iron wedge cozy and handle and there. And those in the coasters are really popular. Some of the ones that not many people know about it I think super underrated line is our cheese ball hat. So it's it's kind of like a baseball. I'm with the lions sleep under normal and Canada sitting but then it has the texture of a cheese puffs and it's like a larger baseball cap so not many people. Know about that line but we've had some little kids naked during her two areas and it just the cutest thing ever it's like a Iranian based on their and. The win as their last summer as there is playing which she's so words yup that day here's that. All the day here's. I guess that makes sense certain has there ever a something that you made that you thought would go over well and did in order that was maybe too hard to make. Oh yes yeah there is. You know there's been in that failures as much as I still like him that other people didn't factor com. Lake and it and we date we need. We did a thing. That was a little. Little bit too tacky I guess. Earlier on we made a cover for do you remember walk ins work out all right Gary young guys Jeff so we made a wedge that went over your man and I'm like this is that you know Labarca let's get. After the bank you know green and sell a ton of these things and and it's just a slate now at its little stupid. You know and it didn't pork and I mean at work but it just it wasn't. Appealing but on gathers weenie thing to hire and usually that's what it is now now oddest dot com that we do. You know people are like. Two we send you suggestions in what do you do when you know whose idea is in this canyon living and that's that's Canada harper because people. Think dad if they take our full and with that trademark color and whole pattern and produce it in a different shape. Like slippers or something in eat out that that's their idea unfortunately it's there it's them taking. Stuff intern in in in two media com. What do you think it's there idea but it still kind of our products or rent on. But then it's endless and we'd look for more of the things that are. Whether it's coming from something culturally change in in in inner driller. On something that's happening in sports or. Who knows what you know it's were were always looking. For something that can be spontaneous. No I guess it was maybe a little surprising people might be too. It's much much more than just the cheese products. And enough foam cheese products that I can think of of buffalo wing had. I guess up Pizza Hut logo hat in there there's a lot of other different stuff. Is there anything. That you won't make is there anything in that category. So. So there you know the corporate stuff like we've done a lot of work Pizza Hut we've made a cheese Ritz Crackers he cushion and very hot sauce so we've done a lot of custom. Stuff site incinerator we mean enough. Foam garbage disposal at song will will do virtually anything we stay away from things like. On. Naughty but nice wanted us to make a specific she's I don't. And I expect anybody except now we don't have the balls for that you know. Going to be able to do that so I'm that we staff draft you know I think we we have to be someone. Com we're family. And family oriented and that's you know we try to balance on offense is this weekend. With some of the ideas but there are a lot of ideas I'd love to do but tests you know wouldn't be tasteful. Well all Obama. So you would like the other not even a nice round maybe validates your right to the bank may be land or the cheeses that that's another thing that people every. Once in awhile Alaska's four version. Cheeses and if you like it sees Jesus. I don't and I don't know like a baby Jesus made a cheese for the Manger Christmas and a beacon. And do a major. Dad duo Manger re creation. Or everyone isn't she he's one of the things. That wasn't tough decisions for us is when Brett Favre. Nam left hand. Went to Minnesota today and we had some investors Collison and said they had an idea for something in and wanted to know. If if we're interest in doing men in. In the order would've been a 25000. Dollar order for us which is you know the word smoke and it's it's good money. What it was was he purple cheese that is what they were asking us to. So com and we went as far as you know getting in the price seen on down all Latin and now might win and it we can't possibly do that. Much is ball. We love Brett Favre now but back then you know isn't as great as he uses a quarterback. It just wouldn't be right and so. We passed on the coroner did you tell him why are cheese heads if you happen to accidentally sprayed painted per ball. I guess that's vying. Yeah out there that's another whole other side of a two part that the creativity of what people. Do whisked she says after the you know diet that my favorite in nine couldn't tell you know is at least ten years ago. Somebody had taken a cheese head and it was for packer game and they put. On a Christmas a little Christmas trees in the middle on the top. And put the liken it indeed each re roll. A real world around that had a train going around the outside right. Moving around and it was functional missiles train was runner on top of the cheese and on the sandy assesses. You know for the same reason they Wear it you know their creativity their outgoing news. It's as always awesome to see what's people are doing to. Oh how would Bud Selig feels he sat behind Mac guy. With the railroad she's had for the holidays. Right in front of them so it is very cool it's very cool that you guys can do open your doors. And show people how this works I am going to go on a tour with four people that listen to the fan. You guys can sign up again if it's if your listening to us before September 7. Up 2018. Sign up at 1057 FM the fan dot com and eminent on a two or four people. And I'm looking forward to that as part of the tour. May you can make your own product as part of the tour. That is that safe to be yet. Anyone can do that yet so. One that's really cool about our processes that it's all. Image in super intriguing and you never seen anything like it but it can be boiled down to simple steps like pouring and you know putting something on the scales so. Our team does any of slightly in what could be considered eaters does that mixing you know we have our team Nixon because they're the professionals you know. By eight. Each pursing his support his or her own she's I have currently the cowboy we have about ten different options at things that they can make buoyant. And sometimes they don't turn out perfect ending an abused it's your first time it's not going to be perfect but it. We haven't had any any dangers interaction at all it's it's really mean it's column it's it's dropped its case she and it hit. It's it's really safe. I guess some I have a hard time like. I repaired my thermostat once and I thought I should give a congressional medal of honor because it's such a achievement that many here creating anything like physical I'm yellow light and has. A good thing nine Amy say is that the foam might light healed too much of it depends senior clothes or your hampered so that I'll. As gamblers and it. And it is good they get to to be a part of that donors to see what it's like to do that and that you can check out. It she said dot com. As far as two hours and then as far as deters me. Again just before September 7. At 157 FM the fan. Dot com. There's like so many stories they go back to two Brett Cyrus and sign means we had made some. She's football's we had Brett Favre signed those and then we actually news. Were working with Reggie whites I'm some pieces that he was doing some signings for so. I'm we've had you know on rate brushes with great Packers over the years. I resent the and there are we had done some pieces for weird Al yank Vick where he was. I'm doing is lady guy got tour and we made some where bulls for him where we incorporated. LED lights inside. Some of our foam pieces that we made for himself have. Really how the islands are nearly as he just place an order on line. And aliens. 62 age Aslan is just weird Al and then a California address and never got that order was late. And now and I can't beat and so they called the number and it turned out actually being him. And then we went through and made the fluorescent and LTD and just went a little overboard on it yet those teacher and his Steelers. Good for him. I'd talked till months. Eight minute interview. On radio in years ago. Yeah I mean did the fact that he itself he placed the order itself. And then it. Yeah still now now has called ensemble that's that's me on the other run ins with Packers I think I think is kind of cool. Yeah celebrity's. Two. Over the years a long night ended showing a large area now on we've been around we'd we. Had heard that there were. Bruce Willis back in the day when. I'd use on a number of different TV shows he was. Seen wearing a cheese and running down some teaching California so. On it it's it's really great. To lead to hear some of the stories. I'll Wear these things pop pop in and who's wearing them at one time there was a group of it was from the state of Wisconsin the milk marketing board was doing. A thing in Africa to help them promotes dairy. I'm showing them how to produce milk in cheeses and they they took some cheese has with them as you know two points of interest and to generate an end the pictures that we had gotten back. From seeing cheese heads in. Jungles with rapid you know with hots and things like our societies towels and it's like. Again one of those that looks like it's made up but it was it was true and it in again it's all. Right it it it can really generate interest point focus things time on causes sometimes and that's that that was really cool moment for us. I think the hole and you said the word order organic before. The whole organic thing like. You can't. It was just kick it can't get examine make this the biggest you know foam Friday UC can't. Can't imagine from where you were to where you are and all different places in between. It if one person seated in this person sees that I'd I'd just it's fascinating really. And a lot of times people want to figure it out and and produce and blue prints from it to try to do something like that in UT just really can't because it is. It's because has been organic and being unpredictable. And it being more of La. It's it it's got its product but it has feels too. Both of them that's the softness of it but. But it's. Emotional people are you know it carries a motion with a two so it's. On we don't try too hard to figure out because you know. And ends. Yeah and then let that it takes out a lot of pressure on gasoline leaking is duel we no we do vastly coming up with creative ideas. And aware exit lyrics of an American agent mark whatever it's still an organic. And experience with all of the things that we offer people. I have people try to like. Make a company and it's just like it like I've you stand Legos but I used to have tyco's. For her is there like a tie goes. There is there is there's a company of that. Involves. Retired NFL football player that exceed we were in conversation he had some ideas of things he wanted to make. For other NFL teams. And I said well my opinion that is you know it's you don't make to have for the team the fan base gives you. The ideas and in so for somebody to do is sit at a drawing board and go I'm gonna make this happen for this team in this sad for that team. It it's just eat it doesn't work you know so I'm like the companies those out there making out wearable formats but. Obviously I'd there are few and far between now and I've ever seen him on the engines you know it's really again the Bob the fan base that. That is the success it's not the product. Well it's really cool and again you can see all this for yourself hear these stories and others. Along the way on the tour. You got humming as a do the tourist area. Well yeah we hit each to whereas 21 guy aid unless it's a larger one but I think we have. Five or so I have two or guides and all different throughout the week in. I know people had taken multiple tumors and multiple guys and they still have a great experience. Yeah I'm good balance between the com. Just stand in the hands and Shonn. Casey ends Saturday is Mike militants at attitude 18 am NG them so. It everybody's is is a comedians you know they're all good chair so. On our guides are Gooden. On you know with with what we have to offer along with that you know between. Com beverages and in other souvenirs it's you know I'd wish for units of the tour that your gonna come and I think that's gonna be fun to see what's. What's your winners a select for some of the stuff yeah. Yeah elevated time Tom sign up mortified seven FM the fan that count to go on the tour with me in check out more about the product and matures. It's she's had dot com. Thanks for a couple minutes here this has been interest staying. I didn't know all the suffer but the congress stadium stuff remember stuff which you look at it again you think you just your brain thinks Packers and that's part of that's part of the state. I mean we're talking to a badgered guy and then we saw a news that our backup quarterback got traded in and week. Had to cancel cancel the badger reveal it there's so much the brewers batters box but Packers to take over and that's why there's a connection that. The fact that it happened a county stadium I think is pretty. Interesting to Ralph Maggie thank you guys. Thank you she said that calm when things podcast.
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