The term “cheesehead” or kaaskoppen didn’t come out of thin air: it certainly didn’t intend to insult, and didn’t see the light by virtue of the Dutch world-renowned cheese either — turns out, there’s an anecdote. 📔
Dutch cheese is a tried and tested lunch staple. After all, it’s one of the best in the world.
With 650 million kilos of cheese produced annually in the Netherlands, the term “cheeseheads” floats around for what may seem to be a testament to how good the Dutch are with their Gouda, Edam, Maasdam, and cheese markets.
Etymologically speaking, in examining the term kaaskoppen: the word kaaskop refers to a wooden mould used to shape the cheese, while koppen refers to the human head — we’re getting closer, Watson! 🔍
How the story goes
The term “cheesehead” can possibly be traced back to an innovative defence method used by the Dutch in the 19th century.
During Napoleon’s occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch cheese producers grew tired and fed up with French soldiers stealing their beloved Gouda cheese.
As a protection method when confronting French soldiers, Dutch farmers DIY-ed helmets carved out of cheese barrels and, ta-da, the “cheeseheads” term was born.
Since then, the French and Belgians, who also picked up the word during the Revolution, used “cheeseheads” as an insult for the Dutch — which is ironic since both of these countries are also cheese lovers. 🤷♀️
Did you know this story about the origin of the term cheesehead? What do you think about it? Tell us in the comments below!
This article was originally published in October 2021 and was fully updated in February 2023 for your reading pleasure.