Ten years ago, Karl Bergholz, aka Karl From Online, began throwing pickle slices onto various objects to entertain a group of his friends. Something about the way they flung and stuck to things just worked.
So when the “cheesed challenge” — people throwing slices of cheese onto their babies and filming it — began to make its way around the internet, Bergholz was a little peeved — especially since the more current trend is often credited to Twitter user @unclehxlmes. But Bergholz has been throwing cheese for 10 years, so we reached out to see if there was any justice in the world.
“Around the time I was 16, my friend Mack showed me if you throw a pickle just right it can stick to some walls, definitely glass,” Bergholz tells MEL. Eventually he and his friends graduated to cheese singlets, because they “were in abundance at his [friend’s] house, and cheese singlets stick to like 90 percent of things.”
In 2014, Bergholz began throwing pieces of cheese on Vine, the now-dead short-form social media platform, even though they were never his most popular videos.
“None of my cheese Vines went viral, I’d say,” Bergholz says. “I just posted lots of them on Vine. I did it like way too often. It was kind of part of my whole schtick.” Though he doesn’t remember his first cheese-throwing Vine, “there are a lot of them out there.”
At the peak of Vine, Bergholz was one of the platform’s top stars. He was nominated for a Shorty award in 2017 specifically for his cheese-tossing Vines, at the time racking up over 265 million “loops” — basically Vine’s equivalent to views. When Vine died, Bergholz tells MEL, he had over 8.5 hours of video recorded on the platform and more than 250,000 followers, all watching and re-vining his original cheese-throwing art form.
The cheese-throwing Vine submitted for Bergholz’s Shorty nomination can be found here.
During his time on Vine, Bergholz was uploading anywhere from three to 10 videos a day. “Doing the videos and throwing cheese turned into an art form,” he tells MEL. “It was fun to perfect and I just had a lot of fun with it and made myself laugh.”
But it wasn’t all fun and games. Bergholz put some thought into his art: “Cheese is funny because the processed American single is something we all know and recognize as probably the worst cheese you could ever eat.”
And he’s serious about the type of cheese, too. “Strictly American cheese. It’s so fake it sticks to anything, and in certain cases which I have gone back to check in on, the cheese has stuck to things for years on end. Eventually it’ll get scraped off, but it definitely causes paint damage… there’s a garage I walk by on my way to work every day with paint damage lol.”
“Pretty much any brand of American singlets work,” he adds, “but other cheeses just don’t work the same. Believe me, I’ve tried them all.”
Since Vine died, Bergholz says he’s stopped focusing as much on short-form videos, and cheese throwing along with it. “I’ll make a video on Twitter or Instagram here and there because it’s fun to do,” he says. “But also I work a lot, so sometimes I just don’t have time to actually do anything I want to with little videos or sketches.”
So imagine Bergholz’s surprise when videos of people throwing cheese onto their babies started to pop up all over YouTube, Reddit and Twitter as “the #cheesed challenge.”
“When I saw a bunch of cheese videos popping up, I was honestly kinda pissed about it,” Bergholz tells MEL. “Nobody gave a shoutout or anything to me for godfathering this trend.”
He says now, when he looks back on that moment, he realizes it’s “a ridiculous thing to be mad about,” but it’d still be nice to have some acknowledgement.
Bergholz is decidedly the first person to throw cheese onto things for the internet’s pleasure. While there does exist a cheese-throwing video on YouTube from 2013 with only 34 total views, it’s hardly worth discussing or watching:
Much like the origin story of “Baby Shark,” most people sharing the meme won’t realize the genesis of #cheesed is so complex. For the meme-loving public that isn’t extremely online, will they care that Vine had a “cheese prank” of its own back in 2014?
Bergholz may want some recognition, but overall he doesn’t mind that #cheesed has reached the end of many a meme’s lifespan: finding popularity among Facebook parents and local news. Afterall, Bergholz threw cheese at garage doors to be fun and weird, not to end up on The Today Show. “I hate the #challenge concept,” he says. “I just did it because I love causing mischief and because I think it’s funny, and posted it online because maybe others would like it too.”
As for “the cheese challenge” itself, Bergholz is lukewarm. He always threw cheese onto inanimate objects or into his friends’ faces, but he’d never do it to a baby.
“Honestly I think it’s funny to cheese a baby, but I would never do it,” he concludes. “Have you ever had to deal with a crying infant? Not fun. So no to babies, but anybody over the age of 11 years old, I think, you throw a slice at them… all in good fun.”