Photo: Jeremy Bronson
1. You know what euchre is.
And how to pronounce it.
2. You grew up with German, Polish, or Norwegian influence.
Maybe you ate, or still eat, sauerkraut regularly, or perhaps, like me, your family makes a traditional Norwegian meal of lutefisk and lefse every year on Christmas Eve.
Michigan has strong German, Polish, and other European influences that are easily defined by our love for pierogies, pasties, golumpkis, and similar cuisines we grew up watching our grandmothers make from recipes that were handed down through generations.
3. You make all company names possessive for no reason.
You call Meijer “Meijer’s” and Kroger “Kroger’s.”
4. You measure distance in time instead of miles.
When someone asks you how far away something is, you’re likely to tell them how long it’ll take them to get there as opposed to how many miles away it actually is.
5. You love going “Up North.”
Going Up North literally just means heading north a couple hours, and yet this is what defines Michigan summers for many of us. It could mean going camping at one of the state parks or going over the bridge into Yooper territory. Maybe you even go Up North to “the cottage” — the cottage being anything from a decrepit tiny cabin in the middle of the woods to a beautiful, sprawling house on Lake Michigan.
6. You have nicknames for other Michigan natives.
“Yooper,” “Troll,” “Fudgies,” and “Townies,” are all ways to identify others native to the Mitten state, and everyone knows what you’re talking about when you use these terms.
7. You have a Chicago accent.
You clip all your hard consonants, pronounce your A’s with a hard, nasally sound, and drop the G’s in verbs with the notable exception of “tornado warning.” T’s are pronounced like D’s when in the middle of a word and not supported by another consonant — think of how we say “ciddy” instead of “city” or “liddle” instead of “little.”
Most of these things aren’t evident until you get outside the Midwest and someone calls you out on sounding like you’re from Chicago.
8. You know what a “Michigan left turn” is.
You know a “Michigan left turn” is when you turn right onto a street followed by an immediate U-turn at the next crossover and don’t really understand why out-of-state drivers find the whole thing so confusing.
9. You have loyalty to certain local brands and foods.
You drink Vernors when you’re sick, prefer coney dogs to chili dogs, wonder why you can’t find Blue Moon ice cream anywhere else in the country, and likely have a family member who still side-eyes foreign cars.
10. You have a slightly different vocabulary than the rest of the country.
You call shopping carts “buggys,” say “kiddy corner” instead of caddy/catty corner, and tell people you’re going to the “party store” instead of the convenience store. The hilarious thing about Michigan’s unique phrases is that you never realize just how unique they are until you go out of state and find someone genuinely confused about what you just said.