Skip to main content

Cheeseheads: 'More than just a funny foam hat,' filmmaker says

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Here's a philosophical question for you: What does it mean to be a Cheesehead? One Wisconsin native who's been living out of state for the past 25 years decided to find out for himself.

John Mitchell, who grew up in Cameron in the northwest part of Wisconsin, is a freelance film producer in California.

A few years ago, after a visit back home and a trip to the Rose Bowl to watch the Wisconsin Badger football team, he decided he wanted to go back to his roots and try to figure out what's so special about his home state.

Mitchell has spent the last four years driving around Wisconsin with an inflated cow sitting in the back seat of his car – talking to fellow Cheeseheads and filming more than 100 hours of footage, according to Action Reporter Media,

At first, Mitchell says, the film was going to focus on Green Bay Packers fans – the ones who most often wear those foam cheesehead hats.

But the film evolved over time to include a much broader look into the culture of the state, WQOW reports. Mitchell calls it a "love letter to Wisconsin."

He also tracks down the history of the word "Cheesehead," with the help of some linguists at UW-Madison.

Mitchell just recently finished editing 150 hours of footage into a film that's slightly less than two hours. Its name, appropriately, is:

"Cheeseheads: The Documentary (We are so much more than a funny foam hat)."

"While the film is quite entertaining, it's also an insightful observation on love of place, and some of the many wonders of Wisconsin and our beloved Cheesehead culture," Mitchell said, according to Action Reporter Media, "and I want as many people as possible to be able to share in that."

Mitchell is now working on plans to sell DVDs of the film, probably early next year, and hopes eventually to be able to provide a free copy to every library in the state of Wisconsin.

So, after all that research, what is Mitchell's definition of a Cheesehead? Here's what he says on his website,

"Beyond the clichéd notion represented in the media ... Wisconsin is a place like none other, filled with some of the most hard-working, passionate, and generous people on earth, who are obsessed with beer, cheese, and football, especially when all three involve the Green Bay Packers."

Here's the trailer for the documentary:

This embed is invalid

And here's a link to an audio interview with Mitchell on a Milwaukee radio station.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.


Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.


Wisconsin lawmakers to honor maker of cheesehead hat

The Assembly will vote Tuesday to honor Ralph Bruno, the man who invented the state's iconic cheesehead hat. The Associated Press says Bruno made the first hat in 1987 using stuffing from his couch.