An iconic combination of polyurethane and sports fandom is being sold to a professional football team more than 35 years after the creator's brainstorm while fixing furniture.
The unlikely history of the Cheesehead foam hat, which has enjoyed nearly two generations on the market, has a new chapter with the purchase of Foamation Inc., the company behind the novelty hat, by the Green Bay Packers.
The Cheesehead was the brainstorm of Ralph Bruno, who was inspired to fashion the original model out of a piece of polyurethane while reupholstering a couch for his mother in 1987.
It's a unique company acquired by a unique football team as the Packers are the only publicly owned franchise in the National Football League.
"After many years of working with family and friends to build the Cheesehead brand, we are pleased to pass it on to the Green Bay Packers," Bruno said in a statement about the sale. "We have had a very special relationship with the Packers over the years."
Plastics News profiled the company in a 2016 story when Foamation moved manufacturing to a larger site in Milwaukee from St. Francis, Wis. "Eighty percent of what we do is cheesehead-related and 20 percent is other work," Bruno said at the time.
Bruno, who could not be reached for additional comment, used a knife to cut a wedge of foam and burned holes into material to make it look like Swiss cheese in creating the original hat. He then painted the foam yellow to look like cheddar cheese.
Cheddar cheese does not have holes and Swiss cheese is not orange, but the creative liberties taken by Bruno paid off. The original hat's public debut by the creator was at a Milwaukee Brewers professional baseball game, but the Cheesehead has become synonymous with Packers football.
"The popular Cheesehead hats have come to represent Packers fans all over the world and we're excited to officially welcome this special brand to the Packers organization," Gabrielle Dow, Packers vice president of marketing and fan engagement, said in a statement. "We're looking forward to building upon the legacy the Bruno family has created over the years and offering our fans even more Cheesehead items to love."
The Cheesehead hat for adults currently sells for $24.99 on the Packers' website, with a child-sized hat priced at $19.99.
Foamation has branched out over the years to produce novelty hats for other professional sports teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to a past interview with HuffPost. That hat featured a steel beam stuck through a steelworker's hat. There have also been copycats for other teams made by other companies, including the Bonehead in Cleveland, a PU dogbone-shaped hat that has room to hold beers when turned upside down.
Other Foamation products have included firefighter, police and cowboy hats. And there has even been a fedora made from the company's signature PU.