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The Terrible Towel vs. The Cheesehead

Traditions of success will come to blows this February 6th in Dallas, Texas, for Super Bowl XLV. Two of the most storied franchises in the NFL with a combined nine Super Bowl championships between them will clash in what has been described by fans and oddsmakers as a relatively even matchup. Aaron Rodgers will lead Green Bay’s high-octane offense to battle against the NFL’s top-ranked defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only will dedicated fans be cheering on their favorite teams, they will also be flaunting their loyalty through the iconic symbols of the “Terrible Towel” and the “Cheesehead.” No other two teams have fan paraphernalia with such a rich history and symbolism as the Packers and the Steelers. However, most NFL fans are unfamiliar with when or why these celebrated novelties were created.

More than 35 years ago, Steelers’ broadcaster Myron Cope teamed up with General Manager Ted Atkins and Sales Manager Larry Garrett to create a symbol to celebrate the team’s success. One idea included creating a black mask replicating head coach Chuck Noll’s likeness, but was rejected due to the expense. Instead, Cope encouraged fans to bring a yellow dish towel to the team’s 1975 playoff game against the Baltimore Colts. When fans waived the towel, Pittsburgh seemed to play well, which created even more hype. In Super Bowl X, the official towel was introduced as “Myron Cope’s Terrible Towel.” In 1996, Cope donated the rights of “Myron Cope’s Official Terrible Towel” to Allegheny Valley School, which has earned more than $1 million in proceeds. It has been reported that more than 6 million terrible towels have been waived since its inception.  

The loyalty of Green Bay’s fans should not be overshadowed as their infamous “Cheeseheads” also stem from an interesting origin. In fact, it was Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers that can be credited with the first cheesehead. Devoted Brewers’ fan Ralph Bruno adorned the first cheddar-shaped couture atop his head, which he created out of foam from his mother’s couch cushion. With the endorsement of Milwaukee’s center fielder Rick Manning, the cheesehead’s following grew rapidly resulting in Foamation Inc., a local manufacturer, producing and selling the famous hats. Today, Foamation Inc. sells cheeseheads in all 50 states and more than 30 nations. Although Packers fans are a key contributor to their success, cheeseheads are now created in different shapes and sizes for people who simply feel the urge to display their love of cheese.

Whether you will be cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Green Bay Packers on Super Bowl Sunday, one must appreciate the amusing beginnings of the NFL’s most famous fan accessories.

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