You know you are a Minnesotan if …

The following is actually a Facebook group, but now I’m turning it into a sort of internet meme. I believe this is an accretitive list: People have added to it. You can tell by some of the redundancies. I myself have edited it slightly.

I was born and raised in Upstate New York, but lived in “Boston” so long that I became an honorary Bostonian. But now I’ve lived in Minnesota long enough that I call this home and in fact a large part of this list applies to me. I believe that for the most part, where this list does not apply to a person who lives here, that is true for people who have moved here in the last 15 years. Having married into a Minnesotan family, however, that differential is entirely erased.

I do not purport to relate to or even agree with everything on this list. The cutest items are those the average non-Minnesotan would not get. For my part, I’ve put the items for which I have no clue regarding meaning or significance in italics, in case anyone wants to fill me in.

  1. You measure distance in minutes.
  2. Weather is 80% of your conversation.
  3. Down south to you means Iowa.
  4. You call highways “freeways.”
  5. Snow tires came standard on your car.
  6. You have no concept of public transportation.
  7. 75% of your graduating high school class went to the Univ. of Minnesota.
  8. You know more than 1 person that has hit a deer.
  9. People from other states love to hear you say words with “o”s in them.
  10. You know what and where “Dinkytown” is.
  11. “Perkins” was a popular hangout option in high school.
  12. You have no problem saying or spelling “Minneapolis.”
  13. You can list all the “Dales.”
  14. You hate “Fargo” but realize that a lot of your family has that accent.
  15. You get mad at people who think Fargo is in Minnesota.
  16. Your school classes have been canceled because of snow or cold.
  17. You know what Mille Lacs is and how to spell it.
  18. You assume when you say “The Cities” people know where you are referring to.
  19. You know what the numbers 694, 494, I-94, 394 mean.
  20. You know what the route “35W” does not go West and the route “35E” does not go East.
  21. You have tried boiled fish in lye at Christmas.
  22. You know the 2 sports-related reasons why we hate Dallas.
  23. Nothing gets you madder than seeing a Green Bay sticker on a MN car.
  24. You know what “uff-da” means and how to use it properly.
  25. You can pinpoint exactly where each scene in “Untamed Heart” was filmed.
  26. You can spot the three-second cameo appearance by “The Artist formerly Known as Prince” in “Fargo.”
  27. You’re a loyal Target shopper.
  28. You’ve licked frozen metal.
  29. Your only reason you go to Wisconsin is to get fireworks or to fish.
  30. You own an ice house, a snowmobile, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
  31. You wear shorts when it’s 50 degrees outside in March, but bundle up and complain in August when it goes below 60.
  32. You know people that have more fishing poles than teeth.
  33. You remember WLOL.
  34. It feels like the Mississippi is everywhere you go.
  35. When you talk about “opener” you are not talking about cans.
  36. You have gone Trick-or-Treating in 3 feet of snow.
  37. You know that when it comes to AM, there is only WCCO, besides, what else do you need?
  38. You know what the word SPAM stands for (in more ways than one)
  39. You carry jumper cables in your car.
  40. You drink “POP,” not “SODA”
  41. There was a time when you were SO proud that Soul Asylum is from MN
  42. In a conversation you heard someone say “yah, sure, you betcha” and you didn’t laugh.
  43. Everyone you know has a cabin.
  44. You get sick of people asking you where Paisley Park is.
  45. You know that Lake Wobegon isn’t real and you know who made it up, where they live, and exactly what to do about it.
  46. You have friends who schedule their wedding in the middle of January without a thought about weather conditions.
  47. You may not have actually eaten it, but you have heard of Lutefisk.
  48. Someone mentions Old Hubie or the Humph, and you know exactly who they mean.
  49. You like the Winter Olympics better than the Summer Olympics.
  50. You beam with pride when some King or Hollywood super star comes to the Mayo Clinic to save their lives.
  51. You have ever worn shorts and a parka at the same time.
  52. You have either a pet or a child named “Kirby.”
  53. Your town has an equal number of bars and churches.
  54. You know how to say Wayzata, Mahtomedi, and Shakopee, and Lac l’Homme Deux.
  55. You grew up thinking rice was only for dessert.
  56. You never had to rewind any part of “Fargo” because you missed some of the dialogue.
  57. You always believed that vacation meant “going up north.”
  58. Your bank has the name of your town included in its name.
  59. The temperature in March is above freezing for three days in a row, and you think it’s summer.
  60. You laugh out loud every time you see a news report about a blizzard shutting down the entire east coast.
  61. The first time you saw “Grumpy Old Men” you thought it was a documentary.
  62. Your state’s pro football team beats San Francisco, but loses to Tampa Bay.
  63. You’ve been made fun of for your northern accent.
  64. You’ve been to an ice hockey game.
  65. You’ve been snowmobiling.
  66. You know how the wind chill factor works.
  67. You constantly make fun of Iowa.
  68. You keep an ice scraper in your back seat.
  69. You call the childhood game “Duck, duck, gray duck.”
  70. You’ve ever built a snowman.
  71. You consider 50 degrees in March a warm day.
  72. You make fun of Wisconsin people.
  73. You know where yellow snow comes from.
  74. You know at least one person in your immediate family hate the “Packers.”
  75. You go to “the cabin” on the weekends during the summer. The cabin is on “the lake” and you may stop at “the bar” on the way, and when you say these things to people you know, they understand exactly which cabin, lake, and bar you are referring to.
  76. You’ve ever taken a family vacation to either North or South Dakota. And thought that was pretty exotic.
  77. You’re still mad at the LA Lakers for not changing their name.
  78. You or your family owns a snow blower.
  79. You, your dad, or a close friend has a snow plow on the front of their pick up truck.
  80. You expect school cancellations and delays to happen at least twice a winter. But they never do because your teachers are tougher than you are.
  81. You still hear/tell stories about the “Halloween Snow Storm” of 91, at least twice a month.
  82. You’ve been in, on, or near a lake within the past week.
  83. You know the names of the Twin Cities.
  84. You’ve been to the city of Duluth.


  1. #1 Jackal
    December 22, 2008

    Oh come on. Half of that could apply to PA. MN doens’t have a monopoly on snow, cabins, or little towns filled with bars and churches.

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    December 22, 2008

    Despite living all but four years of my life in Minnesota, I only agree with 35 of these. I’m neither enough of a sports partisan or a small towner/suburbanite to get most of the rest.

    WLOL was a Top 40 station in the eighties–the Top 40 station for a while. Paisley Park is Prince’s old place, and after Purple Rain came out, it was almost as hot a tourist attraction as Uberdale. Soul Asylum hit it big in music in the nineties only after leaving the state, so local pride in them is particularly misplaced; the locals had less to do with their success than usual. The Dallas Stars were originally the North Stars, but I don’t know what the second sports evil is.

  3. #3 Ana
    December 22, 2008

    Funny; but I don’t think Lutefisk and issues with “Fargo” should count more than once.
    Paisley Park is Prince’s recording studio in Chanhassen. I went to his ‘LoveSexy’ concert when I was 15 and got into the afterparty there and it was AWE-SOME! Sheila E. taught me the electric slide…Prince came up to my chin, even in his heeled boots.
    Soul Asylum used to be a cool band from Minneapolis.
    WLOL (99.5 FM) was the big competition for KDWB back when Starship was hot.
    As for Dallas and sports, I think that has to do with their having stolen the North Stars and that the Vikings lost a season ending 1970s game cuz Drew Pearson ‘pushed-off’.

  4. #4 Katharine
    December 22, 2008

    You Know You Are From Wisconsin When…

    You can taste a difference in cheese made somewhere else
    You own at least one tie with a or peice of jewelry with a Green Bay Packer theme
    You can find and pronounce : Eau Claire, Oconomowoc, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha, and La Crosse, Fond du Lac.
    You can correctly spell Milwaukee.
    You know what “bubbler” means.
    At least one of your family members works / worked in a cheese factory.
    A holstein cow outside of Wisconsin makes you miss home.
    You can taste the difference between apples grown up north and the ones that you can buy in the south.
    When talking about the Green Bay Packers you refer to them as “we”.
    When the weather hits 0 degrees you decide that maybe it’s time to get out a jacket instead of a sweatshirt.
    The family gets together every week for fish fry at the local pub.
    You know what a brat is, and they’re at every outdoor event that your family has ever had.
    You know how to make a very good sled out of normal household items.
    Your love you outdoor pool because of how it doubles as an ice skating area during the winter.
    You can tell the difference between the smell of cow manure and pig manure.
    You have watched Fargo and not noticed an accent.
    You drive around with the air conditioning on until it hits 30 degrees, because it just was so darn hot outside.
    The local paper needs 6 pages to cover the Packers… in July!
    Your best shirt has a big letter G on it.
    You think it’s nice enough to swim when the temperature hits 50.
    You family owns a “winter car” while the “good one” sits in the garage from Nov-Apr.
    Your put ketchup on a charcoal grilled NY strip steak.
    You live in a house that has no front steps, yet the door is one yard above the ground.
    You think everyone from south of Madison has an accent.
    You can identify a Michigan accent.
    Down South to you means Chicago.
    Traveling coast to coast means going from Superior to Milwaukee.
    You can make sense out of the words “upnort” and “Trivers”.
    You have to go to Florida to get a tan in August.
    You consider Madison exotic.
    You can visit Luxemburg, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Berlin, New London & Poland all in one afternoon.
    You can recognize someone from Illinois from their driving.
    You buy cat litter every winter, but you don’t own a cat.
    At least twice a year, the kitchen doubles as a meat processing plant or cannery.
    You know what to do with a Blatz.
    You don’t have a coughing fit from one sip of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
    Bucky Badger hangs on your Christmas tree even if you didn’t go to University of Wisconsin Madison.
    You’re a member of the Polar Bear Club and proud of it.
    You can use the word “ya der hey” easily in a sentence
    You hear someone use the words “uff-dah” and you don’t immediately break into uncontrollable laughter.
    Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a cow next to your blue spruce.
    You know how to polka
    You own a cheesehead
    You have cow pharaphenilia around your house, including your pajama pants
    You know what a FIB is and can spot them a mile away. (I AM a FIB)
    You think of the major four food groups as cheese, beer, brats and Jell-O salad with marshmallows.
    FFA was the most popular club in high school
    You have eaten a cow pie at the State Fair.
    You have ever seen or played in a “broom ball” game.
    You have ever partied at Summerfest, Festa Italiana, German Fest, Irish Fest, Oktoberfest, or all of the above.
    You or someone you know was a “Dairy Princess” at a county fair.
    You can’t be friends with Bears or Vikings fans
    Your idea of diversity is having black, white, and brown cows.

  5. #5 Epicanis
    December 22, 2008

    Uff Da: the best definition I’ve heard for this is “when you drop your gum in the chicken yard, and after three tries you still haven’t found it…”

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2008

    Jackal: I would suspect that half of this would apply to anywhere. But which half?

    I’ve hardly spent any time in Pennsylvania, but I’ve lived in four northern states and am pretty familiar whit VT and ME as well, and the cabin culture in Minnesota is simply unlike it is in any other state. I tried to make some of that come through with the specific reference to “the x” … Also, keep in mind that nothing on this list is exaggerated. Everyone really does have a cabin here, via a friend or relative at least, unless they are a newcomer, of course …

    Ana: “Funny; but I don’t think Lutefisk and issues with “Fargo” should count more than once.” Right. This is why I was thinking this was an accretion.

    Ufda = Oi ve.

  7. #7 jayp
    December 22, 2008

    You don’t remember how Dallas stole that playoff game when Staubach threw the original “hail Mary” pass!!??

  8. #8 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 22, 2008

    Last week I was watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother. One subplot included a woman from Canada who was homesick, so her buddy tells her that a “Vikings” bar (this takes place in NYC) might make her feel right at home. She just has to pretend that she is a die-hard Vikings fan. So, she says she is from Bemidji, and goes to the bar with him. So, he coaches her on some key Vikings history. The story line includes Gary Anderson missing a field goal in the 1998 playoffs (It wasn’t Anderson’s fault. It was Brian Billick’s. Billick changed the game plan to play conservative in the second half, but that is a long story.)

    So, while I am watching the show, I sit in stunned disbelief. Vikings fans think of that game as a secondary tragedy. In the 1975 playoffs, Roger Staubach who was famously a Catholic, throws a pass down field at the end of the game. The Vikings had outplayed the Cowboys for most of the game, but it was a low-scoring affair.

    Staubach throws it downfield for what could only be the last play of the game. If the Vikings hold off, they go to the Super Bowl, and they face a promising yet weaker Denver Broncos team. They finally would shake their status as the team that couldn’t win the big one. These were the Vikings of Alan Page, Carl Eller, Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, etc. It was probably their best team ever.

    Back to Roger Staubach. He says a “Hail Mary” and throws the ball down the field. Drew Pearson, the Cowboys receiver, pushes off against Nate Wright (which is illegal,) and gets in position to catch the ball. And he does. He scores a touchdown, and the Cowboys win. The cheering crowd starts booing and calling for a penalty flag. None is thrown. The crowd gets rowdy while the ref signals a touchdown.

    Suddenly an empty Schnapps bottle appears out of nowhere, headed straight towards the referee. The referee doesn’t see it. It hits him in the head. He goes to the hospital, the Vikings go home and the Van Brocklin curse is once again referred to. (Van Brocklin is another long story from 1966.)

    That is the main reason that Vikings fans hate the Cowboys and Dallas sports. The North Stars, part of the reason that I moved to Minnesota in 1993, is also a bad story. Norm Green moved to avoid sexual harassment charges.

    People in Dallas always asked me why I hated the Cowboys so much. All I had to say was “Drew Pearson,” and they immediately knew what I was referring to. Funnily, they never saw the penalty, at least they wouldn’t admit it.

    For the list as a whole, though, it displays a distinct Twin Cities bias. Many of these things don’t apply to those of us who grew up out-state. Going “up north” for vacation meant going to Canada for some real fishing.

    76. You’ve ever had the throttle freeze on your snowcat.
    77. You drive on the lake as a shortcut to work.
    78. You can play pond hockey on Thanksgiving.
    79. The governor calls school off statewide because the temperature gets down to -25F and you think “What the hell?”
    80. You leave the fireworks show because you’ve run out of “Off.”
    81. The wind chill hits seventy below and you head out to help your neighbor start her car.
    82. You drive down the street and your tires “thump” until they warm up a bit.
    83. You wear mittens inside your mittens.
    84. You can’t wait until the newly-designed snowcat suits come out in the fall catalog.
    85. You get buy your six-year-old a “Kitty Cat” for Christmas and teach him or her how to mix the fuel.
    86. Your first pair of hockey skates are 14th generation.
    87. The warming house is “heated” to 50 degrees.
    88. You set a Knipco heater next to the tractor so you can change the oil.
    89. You put bales of hay around the farmhouse to help insulate it.
    90. Crab apples are the only kind of apple that grow in your yard.
    91. A blizzard is no reason not to go into town to deliver a baby.
    92. Your trombone slide freezes when you are playing in the pep band at either the hockey game or the football game.
    93. “Artificial ice? The heck you say! What will those city folks think of next.”
    94. Your driver training class takes a day to go to Grand Forks so you can learn how to drive “in the city.”
    95. You take a tunnel from a dorm to the cafeteria.
    96. Your girlfriend has a Beetle and you spin it around on the English Coulee (technically North Dakota, but hey.)
    97. You get touchy when people say that the Nile is the only major river that runs north.
    98. Seeing the stars or the Northern Lights at night is no big deal.
    99. The birch have white bark.
    100. You love the sound of quaking aspens in early September.
    101. When school lets out in the afternoon, the sun has set.
    102. In the summer you have a hard time getting to sleep because you can still see the twi-light. At 11:30.
    103. The swimming pool opens in late June and closes for the season in late August.
    104. You don’t “collect” Canadian coins. You spend them like your American coins.
    105. The farmers harvest field corn with snow on the ground.
    106. Your friends are excused from school during calving season.
    107. You know that sugar come from beets, and not cane, because you can smell the factory. Twenty miles away. Also the highest hills for miles around are the beets waiting to be hauled to the factory.
    108. Potato sausage, krumkaka, spritz, bars.
    109. You save space in your freezer by keeping the ice cream outside.
    110. You forget to bring in the “pop” from the car, and end up spending the next day cleaning your car’s interior.
    111. You wonder why the cars from other parts of the country don’t have electrical cords sticking out of the grille. “Is that even an option?”
    112. Your neighbor lost his license from DUI and so he drives the tractor into town. Cop waves and giggles.
    113. T-shirt, shirt, sweater, thermal underwear, parka. Skivvies, long johns, jeans, outer jeans, snow pants. Socks, outer socks, baggies, boots. Scarf, face mask, hat. Complain about having to walk to church, because Dad doesn’t want to start the car for short trips when it is that cold out.

  9. #9 Monica
    December 22, 2008

    These lists made me laugh and laugh… I grew up in Wisconsin and have mostly lived in either Wisco. or Minnie. for the last 20 years. I know what every item on all these lists mean, except the second Dallas/sports thing which has been kindly explained. I would add specifics to the Wisconsin list, especially if you grew up in a “border” town like I did and only “got” Minnesota news on TV. You know you’re from the Minniesconsin border if you “Can name all Minnesota politicians, but don’t know who the governor of Wisconsin is” (ahem, Jim Doyle–fyi), and “have said or heard your friends or relatives refer to Minneapolis as Murderapolis,” AND “You have family from both states and when the Packers play the Vikings play each other they have all day drinking/eating marathons in which all the participants wear both Green and Purple, and the losers are forced to wear the opposing team’s colors and pose for pictures in them.” Also, MOST importantly, you would need to add to #29 on Greg’s list, “You only go to Wisconsin for fireworks, to fish, or to buy beer on Sundays.”

  10. #10 CG
    December 22, 2008

    The other sports related reason to hate Dallas is the hockey team the North Stars moved there.

  11. #11 Joel
    December 22, 2008

    Ufda = Oi ve

    Yeah, but, Epicanis’ definition vividly hits the nail on the head.

  12. #12 RBH
    December 23, 2008

    Well, I got 82 out of the original 84 and most of Mike Haubrich’s, even though I’ve been gone from MN for nearly 40 years. There’s one amendment that hasn’t been mentioned:

    You’ve licked frozen metal.

    should be

    You’ve licked a frozen pump handle.

    (I’ll admit that a few town kids licked the flag pole in front of the volunteer fire station.)

  13. #13 Dizzlski
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine: It appears MN and WI have many similarities. I have always thought of us as kindred spirits; maybe because half of my relatives are there, who knows. I was going to make a smart-ass comment about surrounding states, but I will refrain. Enjoy the snow!!! Happy Holidays.

  14. #14 marilove
    December 23, 2008

    HAHAHA. You know you’re from Arizona, if….

    You buy salsa by the gallon.

    Your Christmas decorations include a half a yard of sand and l00 paper bags.

    You think a red light is merely a suggestion.

    All of your out-of-state friends start to visit after October but clear out come the end of April.

    You think someone driving wearing oven mitts is clever.

    Most of the restaurants in town have the first name “El” or “Los”.

    You think 60 tons of crushed rock makes a beautiful yard.

    You’ve signed so many petitions to recall governors that you can’t remember the name of the incumbent.

    You notice your car overheating before you drive it.

    Your house is made of stucco and has a red clay tile roof.

    You can say “Hohokam” and people don’t think you’re laughing funny.

    You no longer associate bridges (or rivers) with water.

    You see more irrigation water on the street than there is in the Salt River.

    You know a swamp cooler is not a happy hour drink.

    You can say 115 degrees without fainting.

    Every other vehicle is a 4×4.

    You can be in the snow, then drive for an hour and it will be over 100 degrees.

    Vehicles with open windows have the right-of-way in the summer.

    People break out coats when temperature drops below 70 degrees.

    You discover, in July, it only takes two fingers to drive your car.

    The pool can be warmer than you are.

    You can make sun tea instantly.

    You run your air conditioner in the middle of winter so you can use your fireplace.

    Most homes have more firearms than people.

    Kids will ask, “What’s a mosquito?”

    People who have black cars or black upholstery in their car are automatically assumed to be from out-of-state or nuts.

    You notice the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.

    The AC is on your list of best friends.

    Monday Night Football starts at 7:00 instead of 6:00.

    You realize that Valley Fever isn’t a disco dance.

    You can finish a Big Gulp in 10 minutes and go back for seconds.

    The water from the cold water tap is the same temperature as the hot one.

    You can (correctly) pronounce the words: “Saguaro”, “Ocotillo”, “Tempe”, “Gila Bend”, “San Xavier”, “Canyon de Chelly”, “Mogollon Rim”, “Cholla”, and “Ajo”.

    It’s noon in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one person is walking on the streets.

    You experience third degree burns if you touch any metal part of your car.

    You know better than to get into a car with leather seats if you’re wearing shorts.

    Announcements for Fourth of July events never end with “in case of rain……”

    When someone asks how far you live from a location, it’s always in terms of minutes, not miles.

    Everyone’s smiling and talking about the great weather on rainy days.

    You have to explain to out-of-staters why there is no daylight savings time

  15. #15 marilove
    December 23, 2008

    ALSO, be jealous: I actually DID turn my a/c on last night because I forgot to turn my heater off before I left in the morning. The only time I turn the heater on is first thing in the morning so it’s not 55 degrees (brrrr, I’m a wuss) when I get out of the shower. And I came home and it was like 80 degrees inside. Go half asleep me!

  16. #16 chris
    December 24, 2008

    Re: Arizona

    You come inside in July to the blissful cool of your AC, which is set at 85.

    You drive to work in the summer wearing a T-shirt, which you take off in the parking lot, then mop up, then put on your real work shirt and go inside. Because you just moved here from Maryland and your car doesn’t have AC.

    Both of these are from personal experience living in Tucson, although I now live in…Minnesota!

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    December 24, 2008

    I did actually “live” in Arizona for a couple of months, but those months were January and April, IIRC. It rained a lot. The Salt River was a raging torrent quite often, and there was quite a bit of snow in the SF mountains.

  18. #18 Ben Zvan
    December 24, 2008

    I actually laughed out loud just reading number 60.

    Mike: Great additions.

  19. #19 Dread Polack
    December 29, 2008

    Some people from outside of MN are amused when I explain that we have to HEAT our outdoor pop machines (heh, AKA “Soda” machines) in the winter, so the cans don’t freeze and explode.