The science behind the #cheesechallenge

We do not encourage, nor do we condone it, but the #cheesechallenge is makings its rounds on the internet. Although lobbing a slice of cheese onto a toddler’s head may seem simplistic, we decided to explore the science and provide a go-to source for people interested in what goes on beyond the toss. The primary purpose of this investigation is to determine the best cheese one can use. Cheeses will be judged on aerodynamics, stickability (the cheese’s ability to stick to a human head), and aftertaste/residual mess. We examined five kinds of cheese to determine the winner.



The ‘Tried and True’ American slice.


In many of the videos so far, American has been a go-to. Its bold colour is easily recognisable amidst the hundreds of photos of babies with cheese on their heads. The brilliance of the American slice is its incredible stickability with little residual damage. The American slice presents itself as a tremendous close-range cheese that can get the job done and stick the landing. The one problem with the American slice is its shape and aerodynamics. A square of cheese is not aerodynamic at the best of times, and when attempting to land a slice of cheese on one’s head from a distance, the American slice falls short.

Overall rating: 4/5.



The ‘U.K. Rocket’ Cheddar.


Cheddar cheese has a slightly paler complexion to that of the American slice. While it is a fan favourite in the UK, accounting for 51 percent of the nations cheese market, Cheddar is not the best #cheesechallenge cheese by a long shot. Cheddar cheese, while firmer, and perhaps more aerodynamic than the flimsy American, has little, to no stickability. The purpose of a cheese, in this case, is to stick, and Cheddar cheese simply doesn’t. No one wants to hurt a baby physically, so using a slice of Cheddar that rockets through the air and bounces off an unsuspecting head defeats the purpose of this challenge.

Overall rating: 1/5.



The ‘Gouda-nuff’ Gouda.


Gouda presents itself as a good halfway point between cheddar and American. While it still lacks stickability in comparison to American, it is slightly softer than Cheddar. Naturally, this means that there is less chance of inflicting any serious harm, simultaneously increasing its sticking capacity. While it doesn’t present itself as a leading contender for the title spot, Gouda is a good choice if you don’t have time to go to the store to prepare for this challenge adequately and you already have it in your fridge. Beware though; Gouda can be hard, so soften before throwing.

Overall rating: 3/5.


Emmental cheese (Swiss).

The ‘Grandfather of Cheese’ Emmental.


Emmental cheese is an exciting player in this competition. The famous holes present themselves as tricky obstacles that one must work around. To the untrained eye, the holes look as though they will make an airborne slice of cheese uncontrollable. However, the trained professionals know that the holes allow for a finer, and more accurate control of the physics involved with mid-air cheese. Swiss, with its steep learning curve, makes it a problematic cheese to master, but quickly turns into a deadly projectile in trained hands.

Overall rating: 1/5 – 5/5.



The ‘Foreign Contender’ Mozzarella.


Mozzarella is an interesting cheese. Its soft texture sets it up as a prime candidate. Not only this but it’s malleable. It does, however, come with its pitfalls. If one were to use too much Mozzarella, there is a chance that the Mozzarella would envelop a head and render the recipient of the cheese a mess. Furthermore, Mozzarella is often very moist. Covering a young person in cheesy water adds to the residual mess that airborne cheese is so often prone to. Where does Mozzarella end up, then? Again, it’s tricky. The right amount of Mozzarella, in the right hands, can be shaped into a disc-shaped weapon of mass destruction. Its stickability is excellent, and the added wrap-around-on-contact factor does serve the Mozzarella slice well. But the mess it leaves, and the danger involved with slightly too much, or not enough Mozzarella land it somewhere in the middle. A hearty choice, but a dangerous choice.

Overall rating: 2/5 – 4/5.


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a close contest. Looking at the statistics, a slice of Emmental cheese has the potential to be the most efficient face-sticking cheese. However, it is a delicate cheese to master, and cannot be picked up and learned in one day. Do we vote in favour of consistency, then? American is tried and true. It is the most commonly used cheese in the fabled #cheesechallenge, but is this because of a simple case of demographics? Although we do not condone the #cheesechallenge in any way, the winner, in our minds, in our hearts, and on our faces, is the humble slice of American.