30 Things Only People from Michigan Understand

April 1, 2022
30 Things Only People from Michigan Understand

    1. Pasties, (pronounced like “pass tea”) are something we eat. These meat and vegetable hand pies were brought to Michigan by Cornish miners who ate the portable delicacies on their lunch break. Think of them as homemade Hot Pockets that actually taste good. Now pasties are a delicious part of our state’s culture.
    2. Mackinac and Mackinaw are both pronounced the same with “aw” on the end, but they aren’t the same places. The island, bridge, and straits are Mackinac, and the city is Mackinaw. Why? The Native Americans first gave the region the name they pronounced as Michilimackinac, meaning “place of the great turtle.” When the French arrived and established Fort Michilimackinac, they translated the local Native American pronunciation into that spelling; in French, the “c” has an “aw” sound. In 1857, Edgar Conkling founded Mackinaw City and changed the spelling to reflect the pronunciation.
    3. If someone asks us where we live, we hold up our hand and use it as a map, since Michigan is shaped like a mitten. We even refer to parts of our state as appendages. The Thumb is in eastern Michigan, and the Leelanau Peninsula, over on the Northwest tip of the Lower Peninsula, is sometimes referred to as Michigan’s pinky finger. 
    4. Michigan is a big state with everything from major interstates running through metropolitan areas to two-tracks that lead through the woods to nowhere. So we don’t measure distance in miles, we measure it in time. “How far is it from Kalamazoo to the Mackinac Bridge?” “About four hours. Five if it’s snowing.”
    5. Speaking of snow, six inches of the white stuff is just a dusting to us. We need at least a foot to have “a lot of snow.”
    6. When people in Michigan say they’re going on summer vacation, you’re almost guaranteed they’re “going Up North.” Up North starts at Cadillac. If they’re going on vacation in the winter, they’re going to Florida.
    7. You can’t drink apple cider in the fall without eating homemade donuts. That’s just the way it is.
    8. The Great Lakes are not oceans. The water is unsalted and there aren’t any sharks. It’s always a little on the chilly side, but we just think it’s refreshing. (Check out our Michigan lake products!)
    9. Sunsets are spectacular here, and the beach is where you go to watch them. Bonus points if there’s a lighthouse in the background.
    10. With over 122 craft breweries in Michigan, you won’t find us drinking cheap beer. Everyone has a favorite they’re loyal to, and often it’s made right at their hometown brewery.
    11. And with over 100 vineyards and wineries in Michigan, we know you don’t have to go to Napa or Italy to find a quality vintner.
    12. Just like beer and wine, we have an abundance of locally made ice cream in Michigan. Red, blue and yellow Superman ice cream is a Michigan classic. It tastes exactly like you would think red, blue, and yellow taste like if colors had flavor.
    13. Meijer is the one-stop-shop for everything from groceries to socks to garden seeds, and they were doing it long before anyone in Michigan ever heard of Walmart.
    14. You’re either a University of Michigan fan or a Michigan State fan, and you will defend your college team of choice fiercely.
    15. There is one thing U of M and State fans agree on, their dislike for Ohio State.
    16. Michigan’s sports fans are some of the most die-hard and dedicated in the country. We haven’t given up on the Lions yet! We have professional teams in all four major sports: football, baseball, hockey, and basketball.
    17. We drink pop instead of soda. If you order a soda, someone may bring you a box of baking soda.
    1. We call the top of the Lower Peninsula, Northern Michigan. But the Upper Peninsula, which is also part of Michigan, is actually farther north than Northern Michigan. Is that clear enough?
    2. The Northern Michigan and Mackinac/Mackinaw things are really just attempts to confuse tourists from Chicago.
    3. Hell freezes over every year in Michigan. Really. There’s a town here named Hell, north of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. Oddly, Hell is famous for its ice cream shops.
    4. We really only have two seasons in Michigan, winter and road construction. We think of orange construction barrels as the first flowers of spring.
    5. We have so much road construction because the rough winters create potholes that are bigger than a Lion’s linebacker.
    6. We have a saying in Michigan, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change.” Our weather is unpredictable and can change in an instant. It may have been 90 degrees yesterday, but that won’t stop it from freezing today. Thanks to lake effect snow, it’s possible to be stuck in blizzard conditions one minute and drive into the sunshine and blue skies the next.
    7. Almost every town has a shop where you can buy beer, pizza, and bait. Just don’t order the anchovies.
    8. Deer hunting season is a big deal here, and Opening Day is an unofficial holiday. A lot of adults and kids mysteriously become ill the night before and call in sick to work and school. Everyone pretends like they don’t know what’s really up.
    9. Sometimes you have to turn right to go left. Known as a Michigan Left Turn, you continue through the intersection to a turn lane where you make a U-turn onto the opposite lane of traffic. Then you continue back to the intersection and turn right. Does that make sense? Don’t worry. It’s been confusing people from Ohio for decades.
    10. When you go to someone’s house, it’s considered polite and customary to take your shoes off at the door. No, we don’t have a large Japanese influence. It’s because your shoes are probably covered in wet snow, mud, sand, or all three.
    11. We wear shorts and coats at the same time. That way we’re prepared for any kind of weather. It might be 50 degrees at 7:30 in the morning, but by afternoon is will be sweltering. Then it’s freezing again when the sun goes down. It’s just good planning.
    12. Michiganders are friendly. Strangers will talk to you. A lot. For a long time. Go out for coffee in the morning at a local diner, and you’ll make friends with everyone in the restaurant.
    13. We love living in Michigan, winter and all because it’s one of the most unique, beautiful places on earth. Summer is spent on the white sandy beaches and in the sparkling clear waters. We spend fall taking in the technicolor leaves in the forests. In winter, it’s a glistening ice, and a snowy wonderland. Spring is soft and green, colored with tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. There’s no place we’d rather be. Except Florida in February.
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