Melanie was raised in Michigan and has been living in the Midwest ever since. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.
You Know You're From Michigan When...
Every US state is known for some stereotypes and my home state, Michigan, is no different. A lot of Michigan stereotypes are oddly similar to stereotypes of those from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. Some of these things are total myths, some are slightly based on fact, and some of these are 100% true.
It's important to know that a stereotype isn't always the case. While some things might be true for many people in the Great Lakes State, it may be entirely off for another person. The same holds true for people from other states. This is why it's important to get to know a person before making snap decisions about them based on where they're from.
You point to a spot on your hand to show someone where you're from
This is a nifty way to show someone where you're from and, embarrassingly enough, I've used this method! This is not a hurtful stereotype and it's kind of a fun way to show some Michigan pride!
You've never met a celebrity
This one doesn't make any sense to me. I don't know about other parts of Michigan, but there are lots of stars that have summer homes in our area. Heck! My brother swam in Muhammed Ali's swimming pool!
Notable residents of my town include:
Dennis Farina, actor on Law & Order
Patrick Swayze had a condo here
Louis Farrakhan (I was stopped by his security as a kid for inadvertently wandering onto his property)
Kyle Korver of the Chicago Bulls
Richard Daley, former Chicago mayor
Muhammed Ali lives nearby (out in Berrien Springs), and Oprah had a home a few miles outside of town (actually in Indiana, though.) It is also rumored that the guy who wears the "Benny the Bull" mascot costume for the Chicago Bulls lives down the street from us, but I'm not sure how true that is. So, the "you've never met a celebrity" thing isn't the case, at least in this area.
You Have a Michigan Accent
- The Michigan Accent & Michiganders' Slang Words
A guide on the Michigan accent and commonly used slang words (and their Michigan-style pronunciation) that Michiganders and other Midwesterners often use.
Things in this video apply to you...
There are a lot of weather-related stereotypes about Michigan.
- You design your children's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
The weather suddenly gets cold around Halloween, so this one has a lot of truth in it.
- You can experience all four seasons in one day.
This is slightly true; the weather can change quite rapidly here in Michigan.
- 4th of July celebrations are held indoors because of the cold
Not true except maybe far, far north like the UP. It gets sweltering here, summer days can reach into the 80s and 90s mainly in July and August.
- Winter lasts nine months.
This one does seem to be true. Summer is nice, but it does take a while to heat up, and then it only lasts for a few months and then gets cold again.
One misconception is that Michigan is like the Arctic Tundra. People have asked me, "How warm does it get in the Summer?" When I tell them that it gets into the 90s some days, they look disappointed. Sometimes I feel like responding, "I'm just kidding... yeah, the warmest is just above freezing, sometimes we only wear one coat."
- Home Improvement stores are packed in the summer
This is true. I used to work at Lowe's, and when it got warm out, it was super busy. In fact, I was hired as a seasonal (temporary) employee before I was officially hired in. There were a ton of us who were all hired as seasonal employees if that tells you how busy these stores are in the summer.
Map of the US According to Michiganders
You can spend Canadian money
That used to be true, to a degree. In recent years, people have been getting picky about taking Canadian money.
However, people never heavily abused the Canadian money thing. If we got Canadian money, we never complained and would spend it just like American money. We only received change, never bills and we could spend it anywhere around here except the banks.
You know how to play (and say) Euchre
That's pronounced like "you + kerr," and I used to know how to play this game. It's a four-player card game that uses only the nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces.
A lot of people do seem to know how to play this game as there are always clubs listed on public access television that meet up and play it. I think this stereotype is also true in Indiana, at least I've heard this stereotype applied to people from Indiana.
An international trip involves choosing The Bridge or The Tunnel.
This stereotype is talking about the drive to Canada through Detroit. If you're taking the trip across the border here (to Windsor, Ontario), you have the choice of taking a bridge or a tunnel. When we cross in Detroit, we usually take the tunnel. However, we typically cross up north on the bridge from Port Huron, Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.
Everyone, including women, know how to use jumper cables
I had a non-Michigan friend who had to use my jumper cables to jump his car, and he put them on wrong, causing the cables to melt. I was shocked that this person didn't know how to use jumper cables and remember thinking, "How can you not know how to use jumper cables?"
People use statues of deer to decorate their yard
There are places where people don't do this? This stereotype isn't true of everyone in Michigan, but there are people do decorate their yards with deer statues. The same holds true in Indiana. I was almost in a car accident because someone had their deer statue kind of close to the road and I thought it was a deer.
Everyone you know has hit at least two deer
Okay, this is an exaggeration, but there are a lot of deer here. I have never hit a deer, but one thing that sticks out in my mind is that fact that we had to watch THREE videos in driver's ed about deer. Also, I've heard stories about how people keep the deer they hit for meat. Why is this not considered eating road kill?
You drink pop
We do drink pop. One of my friends went out to California and asked for a pop at a movie theater, and the girl was confused and told him they didn't serve popsicles. I don't know if it was just the girl or maybe people out west really don't know what we're talking about. I didn't know people called it soda until I went to an out-of-state middle school... so maybe 12 or 13.
I have heard that some regions of the country, people call it coke no matter what flavor it is. This idea baffles me. How do you ask for a Sprite?
"I would like a Sprite Coke, please."
"I would like a Coke." "What kind would you like?" "I'll have a Sprite."
Did you know?
Lake Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the world (3,288 miles total which includes 1,056 miles of island coastline.)
Michigan has two types of lighthouses: actual lighthouses and orange barrels
Haha, very funny! [sarcasm] I don't know why, but seemingly the roads are ALWAYS under construction. Perhaps it's because we have tar roads here (because of the salt trucks in the winter) and tar roads, well, get potholes all the time!
There is a joke that we have in the family about a specific junction off of Highway 94. The joke is something like, "You'll want to get off before the junction because it's under construction." This is because this particular section of the highway has been under constant construction since I can remember. However, that area gets hefty traffic, so they are probably continually having to do repairs.
Owning a foreign car is a sin.
It's a mortal sin, too, because you knowingly committed it. Oh, the shame!
You dislike Ohio even if you don't care about football.
If you're from Michigan, the weather alters your DNA such that you have a permanent, inherent dislike for Ohio. You can't describe why, either. You just do.
Did you know?
Michigan gained the Upper Peninsula during the Toledo War, a conflict over a thin strip of land (now home to the city of Toledo.) The territory of Michigan gave the land to Ohio in a deal with Congress in return for statehood and the Upper Peninsula. Interestingly, the Toledo War is cited as the origin of the animosity seen in the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio.
Your town has an equal number of bars and churches
There are a lot of bars and churches in my town. There are quite a few of drinking-related Michigan stereotypes, and I don't find these to be true. I'm guessing maybe people think that all Michiganders drink.
While it is cold here and going to a bar might be a fun indoor activity, not everyone here drinks. In fact, my family members may just have a drink around the holidays or special occasions. Some of my friends drink, and some don't. I think it's the same as anywhere.
What are some stereotypes you've heard about Michigan? Are you from Michigan? If so which of these stereotypes are true for you and which aren't?
Did you know?
For swimmers, Lake Michigan is the most dangerous of the Great Lakes and is a contender for the deadliest body of water (by square mile) in the world.
It's the Wolverine State
You know Michigan is the Wolverine State even though there hasn't been a wolverine population in Michigan in over 200 years.
1. Lake Michigan the deadliest of the Great Lakes
2. World Book Encyclopedia (v.13, p.500 of the 2000 edition.)
© 2011 Melanie Palen