Wisconsin February 13, 2019
You Can Make Your Own Cheesehead On This Wisconsin Factory Tour
Once upon a time folks from down below us – oops, I mean down there in Illinois – decided they’d derisively make fun of Wisconsinites and call us Cheeseheads. Being the laid-back, easy-going folks we are, we didn’t really see it as an insult. We took it in stride and turned it around. Heck yeah, we’re Cheeseheads and proud of it!
One smart cookie on Milwaukee’s south side decided he needed a chapeau to proclaim his birthright as a Cheesehead and an iconic Wisconsin item was born. The company is called Foamation and you can visit to see how Cheeseheads are made and on one awesome tour, make your own piece of cheese-wear.
The story goes that after the Bears won their one and only Super Bowl in 1986, Chicagoans got a bit cocky and were chirping their (superior) neighbors to the North. We were none to bothered by this very Midwestern trash talking and Ralph Bruno, an enterprising guy from the south side of MIiwaukee, thought it would be funny to create his very own Cheesehead. He literally carved up the family sofa, using the foam inside to create what has now become an iconic Wisconsin touchstone - the giant wedge of foam known as a Cheesehead.
Since then, Foamation, the company he started to produce his masterpiece, has designed and created dozens of products, from cheese beer coozies to cheese tiaras. If you can imagine it made of yellow foam, Foamation has probably tried it. It's a humble little story for one of Wisconsin's most ubiquitous and iconic identifiers. These folks recently upgraded from their original Cudahy headquarters to a beautifully renovated spot just south of Downtown Milwaukee. And now you can visit this perfect Wisconsin company, tour the factory and make your very own foam-cheese product!
These folks got some gorgeous new digs lately and it's the perfect place to stop in for a quick Wisconsin-themed gift or plan a trip to take a pretty unique and amazing tour. There are three levels of tour. The short and quick "Swiss" tour is just $5 and gives you the lowdown on the history of the company and their location. The slightly better "cheddar" option gives you a tour of the production area on top of the Swiss tour for $12. But the big cheese of the tours is called "The Holey Cow" and for $25 includes a full production and factory tour and the ability to make your very own cheesehead (or other cheese-based chapeau).
Despite the fact that folks around the globe recognize that big wedge of foam cheese as being representative of Wisconsin, this is still a fairly small and hands-on operation. You'll see folks trimming the excess off cheese products fresh from the molder by hand and the goop that's used to create the various items just goes into a simple disposable cup as it is sticky and stains.
The process is really pretty simple and kind of magical as you watch it happen. The foam expands and then is "cooked." Air bubbles are pushed out by hand and voila, you've got your cheese. It's kind of ingenious and you'll love how quaint this spot is. There's something really awesome about something so iconic and internationally known being made by hand by a small group of people here in Milwaukee.
The foam mixture stuff can stick to your clothes, but never fear - you'll be covered with a cheesy apron and cheesy visor when you head out on the tour. As you can imagine, a tour about foam cheese is prime for some awful jokes and puns, but it's all in good fun and you'll have a great time on this really unique opportunity.
These new digs for Foamation mean they have an events room now, meaning you can have a Cheesehead party whenever you'd like. I personally think it would be an amazing employee appreciation party, but a birthday party where everyone walks away with some foamy, cheesy goodness of their own sounds like something your friends will be talking about forever, as well.
There's basically no limit to the things these folks have decided to make out of foam cheese. And they're smart entrepreneurs, so you'll find a Nebraska corn-head and various other foam head options for folks form other states, as well. You might like the foam bra, bowtie, baseball hat or coaster. You'll have a hard time deciding which pieces of cheese need to go home with you.
Basically, this already really cool small Wisconsin business that's been doing something awesome for awhile has opened their doors and welcomed the public in to take part in the fun. It's basically a must-do for any true Wisconsinite and it'll be the best thing you can do with folks visiting from out of town.
The Original Cheesehead Foamation Store and Factory is located at 1120 S Barclay St., Milwaukee, WI 53204. You can learn more about this iconic and amazing local company and schedule a tour right on
their website or by visiting their Facebook page.
There are actually all kinds of amazing and unique factory tours you can take right here in Wisconsin.
Check them out here.