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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:
- 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.)
- It's full of holes, like Swiss.
- It almost always comes in "wedge" form, as if it were cut from a cheese wheel, like Gouda, and not in block or cube form, like Havarti. Occasionally, the full wheel may be shown.
- Less commonly, it smells bad, like Limburger.
Cheese which is not this strange amalgam of traits (well, at least the first three) is almost never present. The most likely trait to get skipped is the "stinky" part. Orange-yellow cheese that's full of holes is still everywhere.
Of course, in addition to Swiss and Limburger just being funny, there's a practical reason behind this trope as well, which is based on the Rule of Perception. In a cartoon, a large, nondescript block of something yellow or white could be just about anything. A bar of gold? Butter? Lard? A white brick? Giving cheese these distinct traits helps identify to the audience that "Yes! This is cheese you're looking at." Of course, this works best if you don't name the cheese in question.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mortadelo Y Filemon 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...
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Green Bay Packer fans wear cheeseheads which are wedge-shaped, yellow like Cheddar, and holey like Swiss.
- Emmenthaler is probably the closest thing to Cartoon Cheese in real life. It's the Swiss cheese after which so-called "Swiss cheese" is named, it comes in wheels, and it's full of holes. It's not as bright a shade of yellow as in cartoons, however, and has a pretty mild taste & smell.
- In Sweden, this type of cheese (1 (yellow), 2, and 3 together) is a very common type.
- 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.
- One Mario Kart racetrack is composed of nothing but this sort of cheese. Even the ground!
- 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.
- 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.
- The first puzzle in Sam & Max Save the World involves getting some of this cheese to bribe Jimmy Two-Teeth. The problem is that the cheese Max bought is solid, and the solution is to have Sam whip out his huge revolver and plug it full of holes himself.
- Not because Jimmy demands cartoon cheese, see; because he demands Swiss, and Sam only needs it to fool Jimmy long enough to get his phone back (it's an aversion, is the point being driven home here).
- 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 Incredible Machine series, you can use this cheese to lure Mort the mouse. Or just as a dead weight.
- In 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.
- Conker's Bad Fur Day had apparently sentient Cartoon Cheese.
- 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 ctach 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.
- The cheese wedges that will summon Gold Mice in Luigis Mansion.
- 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.
- Quite possibly the default in Tom and Jerry.
- 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...
- Hell, Monty's name (Monterey Jack) is an actual type of cheese, as are the Cheddar (in Cheddarhead Charlie) and the Camembert (in Camembert Kate).
- Bugs Bunny cartoon The Unruly Hare. At the end, 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 rat!". 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 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.
- Lampshaded repeatedly in SpongeBob SquarePants, where the titular character is often referred to as things such as a "talking cheese".
- 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
- 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 Neufch?l, where "cœur" is the French word for "heart" due to its shape.
- Done in 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.
- Averted in the Wallace and Gromit short, A Grand Day Out.
- "Everyone knows the moon's made of cheese ..." (and indeed it is.)
- Wedges of cheese in the sequels do sometimes have the holes, however, despite Wallace's Trademark Favourite 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. Slighty averted, where there's slightly more cheese varieties seen (bleu, chedder, 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 the CHEESETOPIA in the episode Remains of a Platypus, guess which shape and form it had?
- Jimmy Neutron once built the Cheese-Ray (which kept being brought up through the series) which turned items into yellow hole-filled cheese.
- 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