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Cartoon Cheese

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Orangey-yellow wedge-shaped object with holes, pursued by mice. That's indubitably Cartoon Cheese.

"Oh, so now the talking cheese is gonna preach to us!"
Unknown fish in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Band Geeks"

There are hundreds of varieties of cheese in real life, in several distinct "cheese families." Not bad for what is, bluntly put, spoiled (and sometimes moldy) milk. However, regardless of anything else, almost all cartoon cheese has three main traits, plus an occasional fourth:

  1. It's orange or yellow, like Wisconsin Cheddar. (And that cheddar isn't even that color naturally. The yellow color comes from annatto, a dye.)note 
  2. It's full of holes, like Emmental (from Switzerland) or Jarlsberg (from Norway).note 
  3. It almost always comes in "wedge" form, as if it were cut from a cheese wheel, like Gouda or Edam, and not in block, slice or cube form, like Havarti. Occasionally, the full wheel may be shown (sometimes with a piece already cut out).
  4. Less commonly, it has a very strong odor (producing wavy 'scent lines'). It may even stink, like Munster, Limburger or Stilton.

Cheese which is not this strange amalgam of traits (well, at least the first three) is almost never present, except sometimes incidentally as a sandwich ingredient. The most likely trait to get skipped is the "stinky" part (unless the stinkiness of the cheese is a plot point). Orange-yellow cheese that's full of holes is still everywhere. Cheez Whiz doesn't show up too often, perhaps because animators fear viewers will mistake it for mustard.

In addition to Swiss and Limburger just being funny, there's a practical reason for this trope, based on the Rule of Perception. In a cartoon, a large, nondescript yellow block could be just about anything. A bar of gold? Butter? A sponge? But if it has these distinct traits, the viewer can clearly tell it's supposed to be cheese. Of course, this works best if you don't name the cheese in question.

Commonly seen as part of a Level Ate. A Cheesy Moon is usually made of Cartoon Cheese, though generally it will be green instead of orange-yellow to fit the convention.

A Sub-Trope of Stock Food Depictions. Compare Cartoon Meat, its equivalent for animal flesh, and Every Pizza Is Pepperoni, its equivalent for pizza.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon has conveniently held this kind of cheese. This trope is international. This is most likely due to American (especially Disney) influence in early anime.
  • Referenced in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders when the Joestar group come across a corpse riddled with holes, Polnareff compares the sight to "cartoon cheese in Tom and Jerry."

    Asian Animation 
  • Cheese from Bread Barbershop is a yellow wedge of cheese with holes and an odor, fitting all four criteria for Cartoon Cheese. This is despite him being Camembert cheese, which in real life is creamy and whitish-yellow.
  • In Simple Samosa, any anthropomorphic cheese characters that appear are orange or yellow wedges/cubes/circles that may or may not have holes all over them.

    Comic Books 
  • When Superboy meets Super-Mouse, the latter is seen juggling with this kind of cheese.
  • Swiss cheese features frequently in Asterix in Switzerland, for obvious reasons.
    • Corsican Cheese manifests extreme Number Four characteristics, releasing fumes so strong they cause Obelix to faint, as well as being being Made of Explodium and causing a ship to sink in Asterix in Corsica.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón has a painful aversion: An elderly woman mistakes a bar of soap for a piece of cheese that looks just like the soap (rectangular, not like a wedge) and gives it to Filemón, who unknowingly eats it...
  • In Violine, Klaas, Violine's pet mouse, thinks of this kind of cheese when first meeting her.

    Comic Strips 
  • This is the type of cheese that shows up most often in Garfield — with one exception. Since Garfield likes mice and doesn't want to harm them (and would be too lazy to do so even if he did), Jon has to put out traps baited with cheese. The chunks of cheese in the traps are not round or wedged, but appear almost featureless (perhaps the most approximate shape would be "semicircle").
  • Heathcliff might feature cartoon cheese on some days when the title cat is dealing with mice.
  • Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis has said that the best way to draw cheese is to draw a box-like object, put a bunch of holes in it, and have someone refer to it as "cheese". (That last part is probably to keep readers from assuming that the object in question is a dishwashing sponge.

  • Averted with the cheese-loving Anatole, in which many different and varied kinds of cheese are accurately depicted.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Muppet Show, Gonzo auditions with Yolanda, the dancing cheese. Gonzo just clicks his heels a bit, and the cheese does the fancy steps. Wedge of circular round? Check. Yellow? Partial check. (He refers to "her" as a Gorgonzola.)
  • An episode of Family Matters had Urkel create a Mortal Kombat style video game with one character based on himself. One attack the character had was to yell "Have some CHEESE!" while throwing Cartoon Cheese at the opponent. Subverted, however, in another episode in which he annoyed Carl by showing a slideshow of all his favorite cheeses - some of which look nothing like stereotypical cheese. ("A bodacious Brie!")
  • On the competition show Fake Off, the team chosen to act out disaster-movie themes depicted the story of three mice whose pursuit of a piece of Cartoon Cheese was repeatedly interrupted by an earthquake, a shark's fin, a tyrannosaurus and an Alien Abduction (of the cheese).
  • Donkey Hodie:
    • In the episode "Everything Explorers", Donkey Hodie and Purple Panda encounter a rock called the Swiss Cheese Stone that has characteristics of cartoon cheese, namely the yellow color and the holes.
    • In the episode "The Try Scouts", Donkey and Panda are tasked with making light yellow, triangular-shaped cheeses with holes in them dance to music.
    • The cheese hats Donkey Hodie and Purple Panda wear in "Cheesy Con" are triangular, yellow and have holes.
    • Stinky Cheese Rock from "Acornball" is yellow and has holes in it.

  • Mousin' Around!: Every piece of cheese in the game's artwork is yellow and holey. However, they're not always depicted as wedges - oftentimes the cheese is cube-shaped, particularly the kind used as bait for mouse traps.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Mouse Trap (1963) has triangular pieces of orange holey cheese, collected by either placing one piece upon the trap or landing on certain other spaces. They don't come into play until the finale, where they can be used to try to move other players onto the cheese wheel where the cage will drop on them.
  • The objective of Rap Rat is to collect ten or seven pieces of it (depending on the version) before all the cheese on the screen is eaten in the course of any of the three ten-minute games.
  • In the game Pounce, in which mice have to escape being caught by the cat, scoring is done with very thin holey slices of yellow cheese.

    Video Games 
  • A whole type of stage devoted to this in Alfred Chicken.
  • The Stinky Cheese Wedge in Banjo-Tooie is exactly what it sounds like: A giant piece of cheese, yellow and full of holes. It serves as part of the level.
  • Her Majesty's Spiffing: Zigzagged When Captain Frank Lee English can first collect the cheese from the fridge aboard the Imperialise, it's a simple wedge taken from a wheel. However, he can present it to the French space team as a peace offering, only for them to shoot three holes in it.
  • Cheese Dreams features as its protagonist a sentient moon made of this stuff. More of it (hopefully not originally sentient) can be seen in liquefied form powering the mouselike antagonists' spaceship.
  • Cheese wedges in Club Penguin are always yellow and contain holes.
  • Rare aversion: Except for the first game, the cheese in most Creatures games is a white wedge-shaped cheese, as is common for real-world cheeses.
  • DuckTales: The priceless artifact on the Moon is a chunk of green Cheesy Moon.
  • The first puzzle in Sam & Max Save the World involves getting some Swiss cheese to bribe Jimmy Two-Teeth. The problem is that the generic cheese Max bought is solid, and the solution is to have Sam whip out his huge revolver and plug it full of holes himself. According to the easy-to-trick Jimmy, generic cheese + holes = Swiss, which hews close enough to this trope to count.
  • James Pond 3: Operation Starfi5h was set on the moon, which is of course made entirely out of this kind of cheese. Interestingly, although most of the area names are puns on many different cheese varieties, all the levels are the same bright-yellow-holey stuff.
  • In the NES game The Addams Family, it's a health bonus.
  • In a low-budget Expert Software game compilation, Cheesy Pursuit and Maze Race both have many kinds of cartoon cheese.
  • The original Perfect Dark for the N64 had small chunks of this type of cheese hidden in each level as an Easter Egg.
    • And the Xbox 360 DLC version too.
  • In at least one entry of the The Incredible Machine series, you can use this cheese to lure Mort the mouse. Or just as a dead weight. It's also the kind of cheese Sid E. Mouse eats in Sid & Al's Incredible Toons.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, cheese comes in either cheese wheels (that are missing a wedge) or wedges that seem to be cut from a wheel. Both are pale yellow. In one quest this trope is played 100% straight when you steal a bright orange cheese wedge with holes and use the smell to summon rats from miles around.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has the same set-up, but uses it for a Shout-Out: one house in Markarth has a cheese wheel positioned with garlic and a bowl to look like a scene out of Pac-Man.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day had apparently sentient Cartoon Cheese.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: One of the various ingredients is Hateno Cheese, which resembles the standard depiction of a yellow cheese wedge with holes.
  • One of the standard icons for World of Warcraft fits this trope (for example, the Completed Wine and Cheese Platter in the daily Dalaran cooking quest "Cheese for Glowergold"), but there are many different varieties of cheese. Darnassian Bleu, Dalaran Sharp, Alterac Swiss...wait a second. Alterac Swiss? How did Swiss cheese end up in Azeroth?
  • The MacGuffin in every stage of Transformice
  • The old IBM game, Alley Cat, featured levels where the eponymous feline tried to catch mice peeking out of the holes of a giant wedge of Cartoon Cheese.
  • RuneScape has cheese - and the edible item is indeed a yellow wedge with holes in it. The shape, at least, is justified, as the only method of making cheese known to players (involving a churn) produces a cheese wheel, which is then sliced into wedges.
  • A rather disturbing example appears in The Journeyman Project 2: Buried In Time. There's a commercial for a spray cheese product called "Cheese Girl", whose model has holes in the product and is colored yellow orange. You need this item to propel yourself through space to reach a damaged space station.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Luigi's Mansion: Yellow Swiss cheese wedges appear in discreet locations in five different rooms, and scanning them with the Game Boy Horror causes a Golden Mouse to appear.
    • The Mario Kart: Super Circuit racetrack Cheese Land is composed of nothing but this sort of cheese.
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, at first you might think, looking at the wide variety of cheeses available in the dungeons (havarti, brie, blue, gouda, smoked applewood cheddar, parmigiano reggiano...), that this trope is averted. Nope! Amongst all the different kinds of unique cheeses, there is one cheese known simply as "Cheese". It's yellow-orange and wedge-shaped, with holes in it.
  • Most forms of bait in the Facebook game MouseHunt come in Cartoon Cheese-style wedges, even fantastical ones with crystals, seaweed, bits of metal or other weird stuff embedded in them.
  • Averted in The Farm of the Buzzy the Knowledge Bug series where the token cheese shown is a realistic wedge of cheddar.
  • In the Animal Crossing games, there's a villager named Chadder. He's a mouse with a fur pattern resembling cartoon cheese.
  • In Overcooked!, cartoon cheese is one of your ingredients. In the first game, cheese is only used for making pizza, when typical cheeses used for pizza (like mozzarella and parmesan) are white. In the sequel, however, it also gets used for cheeseburgers, where it's more probable.
  • The Pixeljam online game Rat Race and Rat Race 2 both plays it straight and averts this, every single piece of cheese is uniquely shaped and colored, but there are a few suspiciously yellow, holey looking ones.
  • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, the Cheese ingredient you can use for making sandwiches is a yellow, holey cheese. However, it's cut into square slices rather than wedges.

    Web Comics 
  • Concerned #178: Frohman holds an orange item that he believes is "a delicious wedge of Bournes Pasturized (sic) Organic Chesire Cheese!" It's not really a wedge nor does it have holes because the artist only had so many 3D items to work with in his sandbox, and he chose a human clavicle bone. The thing turns out to not even be cheese, but shades of the trope are quite present.
  • Karate Bears love cartoony looking cheese
  • Lars from Girl Genius was a cheesemaker's apprentice who stopped to watch a play and joined the circus. This is illustraded in his flashback as him carrying wheels of yellow swiss on a big stick over his shoulder.
  • The villain "The Cheese" from It's Walky! is a godlike robot constructed from a material that looks exactly like cartoon cheese( but is implied to be a golden metal pitted from aeons of use). Which gives him his name.

    Web Original 
  • At one point, Google Moon (a map of the Moon with all the Apollo landing sites marked), if you zoomed all the way in, would change the background to green holey cheese.
  • Neopets has lots of food items that are specific types of cheese, usually appearing in the wheel-with-a-missing-piece form, but the one that's just plain "Cheese" is the classic yellow wedge with holes.
  • hololive: Hakos Baelz' pre-stream animation shows a pixellated version of her jumping over blocks of yellow holey cheese, and one of her membership emojis is also a wedge of the same kind with a bite taken out of it. Fittingly, she has a rat motif.

    Western Animation 
  • Quite possibly the default in Tom and Jerry. In one Gene Deitch cartoon set in the Wild West, a wheel of cheese in the store's display window labeled "Cheddar" is switched with "Swiss" after it gets shot full of holes.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is perhaps noteworthy in that it mentions varieties of cheese (other than the old standbys) rather than generically calling it "cheese" and leaving it at that (thanks in part to having a character [Monterey Jack] whose Weaksauce Weakness is cheese). Monty even has a favorite cheese: Brie '86 (even though the pilot movie "To The Rescue," reveals that Monty doesn't really have a favorite kind of cheese, as any kind will send him into that cheese attack trance).
    • In "Short Order Crooks", the cheese of choice is cheddar, so the color is right, given the annatto, but the holes...
    • In "Mind Your Cheese And Qs", all the cheese is yellowed Swiss, while all the cheese being exchanged for gold is yellowed baby Swiss, judging by the hole size. Even though Monty smells Edam (which is yellow, but usually pressed into balls and covered with red wax) and brie (which is white and molded into a flat disc), this is all he finds in the vault. The brie which Rat Capone uses to lure Monty away from saving Gadget loses the holes, but there's that yellow again...
  • Bugs Bunny cartoon The Unruly Hare. Bugs tells Elmer Fudd that only a big fat rat would shoot a guy in the back. Elmer does so and says "So I'm a big fat wat!". Bugs appears out of the smoke from the shot and says "Ah! Have some cheese, rat!" and shoves a wedge of cheese in his mouth.
  • Partially averted in the Looney Tunes short Cheese Chasers, which opens with mice Hubie and Bertie at the end of a binge at a cheese warehouse, eating paths through a variety of cheeses. Later, though, Claude Cat, trying to get them to leave him alone, offers them some Cartoon Cheese.
  • The title character of Spongebob Squarepants is yellow, rectangular, and full of holes. Show creator Stephen Hillenburg included "Sponge" in his name to avoid audiences thinking he was an anthropomorphic block of cheese. This was lampshaded in the episode "Band Geeks" when he is referred to as "the talking cheese."
    • In the episode "Hooky," fishhooks use cheese as bait. The cheese here is bright orange and full of holes, though is cut into chunks instead of wedges.
  • Limburger cheese examples:
    • Flip the Frog in Chinaman's Chance; the smuggler Chow Mein is easy to track because he's got smelly feet—even his footprints stink, and when Flip or his dog smell them, the image of stinky Cartoon Cheese is superimposed.
    • A Ham in a Role: A would-be Shakespearean actor gets stinky Limburger cheese dropped on him as he's reciting the "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" line from Romeo and Juliet.
    • Really Scent: a female cat locks herself in a Limburger factory so she can match Pepe Le Pew's scent.
    • Tom and Jerry cartoon Tall in the Trap
    • Hoppity Hooper episode "Colonel Clabber" has a Limburger Cheese Statue.
  • Swiss Cheese examples:
  • Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom is a Cheesehead and wore the cheesehead hat.
  • Pinky and the Brain had a short in Animaniacs about the cheeses from around the world, and most of those were in wheel form. For the record: some cheeses don't have this shape at all, such the Cœur de Neufchâtel, where "cœur" is the French word for "heart" due to its shape.
  • Done in The Fairly Oddparents. In particular the episode "Power Mad", where ninja bunnies shoot carrots right through fairy Cosmo, riddling him with holes - he reappears later after the simulation with holes still in his body. Cosmo: "look I'm cheese." Also used in "Cheese and Crockers" where Crocker gains cheese powers - the cheese he uses are all orange.
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • Averted in the short A Grand Day Out, where the Cheesy Moon consists of many different types of cheese.
    • Wedges of cheese in the sequels do sometimes have the holes, however, despite Wallace's Trademark Favorite Cheese being established as Wensleydale (a white, crumbly cheese).
  • The Garfield Show: Slightly averted where TV star and chef, Eddie Gormon, opens "Cheese Land", an amusement park made entirely out of cheese. Slightly averted, where there's slightly more cheese varieties seen (bleu, cheddar, american) but are overshadowed by most of the cartoon cheese making up the amusement park.
  • Cartoon Network released a marathon called "Cartoon Network Invaded", where every animated series had a special episode involving the same type of aliens looking for cheese as construction material for the moon. Most of the cheese is either cartoon cheese or orange spray cheese.
  • Filbert from Rocko's Modern Life initially designed "The Cheese" character as a highly stylized version of this before Heffer redesigned him in "Wacky Delly".
  • Shows up on Jimmy Two-Shoes, during the Zombie Apocalypse episode.
  • Justified in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Stuck in Ed". Rolf was drilling holes in a cheese wheel.
  • Phineas and Ferb built Cheesetopia in the episode "Remains of a Platypus", and while more cheese varieties are also present, the main attraction is triangular and full of holes.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy Neutron once built the Cheese-Ray (which kept being brought up through the series) which turned items into yellow hole-filled cheese.
  • On Family Guy, Peter and friends joined the police academy. When Peter performed a practice rectal search on Quagmire, a block of cartoon cheese was one of the many, many objects to fall out of Quagmire's ass.
  • In Ratz, the cheese is explicitly Gouda, but it's shown holier than usual. (It might be Old Amsterdam, which is an aged Gouda, and is slightly more holey)
  • The Danger Mouse remake villain Monsieur Aubrey le Camembert had a cheese ray which turned things into cartoon cheese, despite him making puns on a wide variety of cheese types (and being named after a runny white cheese). He even wears an orange jacket with dark patches resembling holes.
  • In House of Mouse, when Mickey spends the rent money on cheese (again) this is what he ends up buying and eating.
  • The typical orange-yellow cheese with holes is featured in the Let's Go Luna! episode "C'est Cheese".
  • An Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy cartoon, "Good Mouse Keeping," dealt with the two about to follow dinner with a dessert of cheese (Swiss at that) only for a mouse channeling Groucho Marx to ingress and steal the cheese.
  • Hey Arnold! has two episodes (Operation Ruthless and Love and Cheese) involved around a Cheese Festival. As you'd expect, the infamous Swiss cheese can be seen around the fest both times, whether as big cheese costumes, on carny uniforms, or decorations.
  • Being the wacky show it is, cheese is a common sight on Pinky Dinky Doo and is always the stock Swiss. One particular episode involved around a cheese party in the park in ruins due to a monster with yellow fur stealing the cheese in order to make a large city (and it entirely looks like it was made out of modified versions of Swiss). However, the problem is solved when Pinky suggests they just have the party in the city so they don't happen to ruin the great sculpture.
  • Averted on Miraculous Ladybug, where Plagg's Trademark Favorite Food is Camembert cheese, which is correctly portrayed as soft white cheese.
  • All cheese on Kaeloo is portrayed as a yellow wedge with holes in it.