“The Moon is made of green cheese” refers to the belief or fancy that the moon is essentially composed of cheese. Though, there is no evidence that this belief existed as a popular historical belief as in the earlier notion of the Earth being flat. In fact when people say the moon is made of green cheese, it refers to a very untrue statement or one marked by sarcasm as there is no connection between moon and cheese. It is a well established fact that the moon is made up of gray-green basalt rocks and people who say the moon is made of green cheese may be termed as extremely ignorant or credulous.
The belief “The Moon is Made of Green Cheese” has its roots in the fable wherein a simpleton sees the moon being reflected in water and thinks it to be a round cheese wheel. It has since been used metaphorically to represent credulity. The notion of “The Moon is Made of Green Cheese” has been used frequently in children’s folklore and has also found entry into popular culture.
“The Moon is made of green cheese” was regarded as a popular proverb in the English Literature of the 16th and 17th century and continued to be in use even after that period. The origin of this proverb can be traced back to 1546 as “The Moon is made of greene cheese” found in “The Proverbs of John Heywood”. The word ‘greene’ may not necessarily refer to the color green as it is generally supposed now, but may indicate that the cheese is not aged and comparatively new and fresh. Another variation of the proverb is “to make one believe the Moon is made of green cheese” which means to play a trick or swindle someone.
The comparison of the moon to cheese may lie in the fact that on a full moon day one could see various undulations on the surface of the moon which resembled cheese. The sense of green cheese may actually refer to cheese that is new and unripe. The reference to the moon made of green cheese reflects the gullible notion of the moon’s association to dairy products. Ironically, satellite pictures of the moon often come with an “expiration date” found typically on packaged cheese.
Children’s folklore contains many references of the Moon being made of green cheese. For instance in the Tom and jerry episode of O-Solar Meow, Jerry is shown enjoying the large quantity of cheese found on moon. Similarly Uncle Scrooge is shown, in the video game of Duck Tales, fetching green cheese from the moon. In “A Grand Day Out” a short animation film, Nick Park portrays Wallace and Gormit on a lunar rocket mission to the visit the moon made of cheese.