1. Knowing how to drive in every form of weather

Ever driven behind someone with Florida plates in the middle of a snow storm? Be grateful when you see a license plate from one of the Great Lakes states. They’ll be the ones flying by you going the speed limit on I-96 (or 20 mph over the speed limit on I-90) while you’re left squinting through all the snowflakes and crawling along the rumble strip. Rain, sleet, hail, snow, slush — we’ve seen it all and can handle our vehicle (usually without four-wheel drive) through it all.

2. Big Ten Football

Whether you love to hate Ohio State or are buddies with Bucky Badger, there is no conference in college football better than the Big Ten. Tailgating outside Kinnick Stadium or the Big House, that’s what Football Saturdays are all about. We have some of the most cut-throat rivalries in the NCAA, but in the end, all we really want is someone from the Big Ten representing in the BCS game.

3. A perfectly-timed, slightly self-deprecating, practical kind of humor

And no one else seems to quite get it. Your understated wit goes unnoticed by your “coastal” companions. Once you leave the Midwest (which you will because everyone does at some point), you’ll quickly develop an even deeper appreciation for Garrison Keillor and make sure you never miss another episode of A Prairie Home Companion. Because that guy, he gets it.

4. The significance of being the first frontier

If you were paying attention in your 8th grade history class, you probably learned about our beginnings in New England and the troubles happening down South, but the American values we cherish today were forged on the frontier. We have the original Midwesterners to thank for going all Democratic and revolting against the Eastern Ivy League mentality to head West to find the simpler things in life. Sure, Iowa has its share of churches and potlucks, but it was also the third state to legalize gay marriage. Welcome to the frontier…

5. Lake houses (and the Great Lakes of course)

Everybody knows somebody with a lake house, and those cottages up north are God’s gift to the Midwest. These are the places where priceless memories are made, and it’ll only cost you a tank of gas and a case of your host’s favorite beer. You’ll never forget your first polar bear dive and quickly learn that swimming in an enormous freshwater lake is so much better than constantly having to spit out salty sea water…

6. Hot dogs, deep dish, pasties, fish boils…

The South might have staked their claim on BBQ, and obviously lobster is just better in Maine, but there is something to be said about Midwestern cuisine. It just makes you feel fat and happy. Boiled fish and potatoes might not sound like the most appetizing dish, but paired with a Door County summer evening, you’ll have a night to remember.

7. “Midwest nice” and the meaning of hard work

Although the “Midwest nice” stereotype has its downfalls, for the most part, it works in our favor. People from the Midwest say please and thank you. They’ll stop to help you change your tire on the side of the road, and if they don’t, they’ll definitely feel bad about it until the next rest stop exit. A recruiter in Portland once told me he liked hiring Midwesterners because he knew they’d have a strong work ethic. I’ll take that reputation over the California valley girls any day.

8. Bell’s, Founders, New Glarus, Boulevard, Goose Island…

You’re welcome, rest of the world.

9. The month of October

The color spectrum can’t possibly be big enough to encapsulate every hue of orange, red, yellow, and green found in a Midwestern fall. We wait all year for that two week period where we get to break out our favorite jean jacket and crunch upon dead leaves in the crisp, autumn air. How do people live in places that don’t have seasons?!

10. An inexplicable ability to gravitate towards each other

Inevitably, either for college or after college, every Midwesterner picks a coast to try out. They pack their bags and get excited to leave the boring flatlands of Illinois or Indiana. They drive several thousand miles in their jam-packed, American-made car only to find that the first person they befriend in Oregon is actually from Michigan. Their favorite co-worker is from Minnesota, and the random Craigslist roommate they found reigns from Wisconsin. We are just pre-programmed to find each other.

11. Cornfields

Yep, I said it. Cornfields are not something to take for granted. They provide endless hours of entertainment, not to mention a great place to hide and steal a first kiss. Plus, there is nothing quite like driving past rolling cornfields at sunset or sinking your teeth into the first corn cob of the year’s harvest. It’s true, us Midwesterners do love our corn.

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