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24 Things Everyone From Michigan Has to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Cathy Brown Mar 30, 2015

1. Yes, it’s possible to drive south to Canada.

Mind melt, here. Drive SOUTH out of Detroit and you’ll instantly hit Windsor, Ontario.

2. Superman ice cream is where it’s at.

It’s as awesome as it sounds (especially if you are under 10 years old). Superman ice cream is made up of blue, yellow, and red swirly layers. The yellow is more or less vanilla, the red is some sort of sweet red mystery fruit, and the radioactive blue layer is…who the hell knows. We don’t overthink these things.

3. It’s not soda. Or even Coke. Get it straight, it’s called POP, y’all!

And we have both Rock and Rye and Red Pop Faygo. Be jealous.

4. Freshwater beats saltwater any day.

Our beaches don’t have saltwater, there are zero sharks, and it doesn’t take 20 hours to drive there. And we can kiteboard and even surf in some places. Once you get used to our freshwater playground, saltwater is hard to accept.

5. The UP (Upper Peninsula) is one of the most gorgeous places on earth.

While us Michiganders from the Lower Peninsula love to hate on the UP, we all know that the UP has us beat when it comes to natural beauty, what with its gorgeous coastline, tons of forest to explore, and barely a tourist in sight. The winters may be harsh, but, I tell you, the short yet stunning summer is definitely worth the wait.

6. We have this thing called “The Michigan Left.” It’s totally confusing.

As if torrential snowstorms didn’t making driving in Michigan tricky enough, we’ve got to throw in these crazy left hand turns that, let’s be honest, no one really understands. It’s sort of like pulling a U-turn at a traffic light instead of just turning left.

7. We call the people who live in the UP “Yoopers.”

Say the letters out loud. U. P. Get it now? Yoopers are a special hard-core breed of survivors, as they put up with some of the harshest weather in America and still somehow thrive.

8. Stop. Calling. It. “Mack-I-Nack!”

Yeah, I know it’s spelled Mackinac. Whatever, you and your logic. It’s Mack-in-naw.

9. Vernors Ale can cure basically anything.

At least that’s what my mom thinks. And most other Michiganders that I know. At the very least, drink it when you have an upset tummy.

10. The sliding door is called a door wall.

Duh. I’m still always baffled when I’m outside of Michigan and no one knows what I’m talking about when I refer to the door wall.

11. We do hotdogs up right.

In Michigan, they’re topped with a meaty, tomato-based Coney sauce, followed by chopped onions, and a line of mustard. Ah, after writing that, I want a Yesterdog in GR, stat!

12. Throw your pop cans out the window. I dare you.

In the rest of the country, people simply throw out their cans and bottles with the rest of their trash. Seeing this drives Michiganders crazy. Michigan passed a law in 2004 making it illegal to dispose of beverage containers in the state. Instead, we return cans and bottles for 10 cents apiece. The redemption rate is over 95%, and our land stays clear of trash. We’re geniuses, I know. Take note and get your state to do the same.

13. You don’t know what rivalry is until you know Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.

The rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State sports is by far one of the most intense in the country. As far as football goes, Michigan leads the rivalry with a record of 68-33-5 (Go Blue!); however, the Spartans took home the traveling Paul Bunyan trophy last year in a blow-out game. So don’t go getting too cocky, Wolverines.

14. Never, ever bring up Ohio State.

We even have a cute, rhymey chant that goes a little somethin’ like this: “Oh how I hate Ohio State!” God forbid someone in Ohio red and white dares to stumble into Ann Arbor bar on game day.

15. Lions fans are as diehard as they come.

It may have gone downhill since the days (and I may be totally dating myself here) of Barry Sanders, but we don’t care. We keep the hope alive.

16. Detroit is awesome.

Yeah, Detroit is facing some rough times. But those who fall the hardest can make the biggest comebacks. Detroit has some pretty amazing things going on, so quit talking smack! We’ve got a level of diversity found in very few other Midwest areas, some killer urban gardening initiatives, and an art and music scene that is better than ever before. The real estate is cheap. And Eminem, Journey and Kid Rock sing about it. Did they ever do that for your city, hmmmm? Didn’t think so.

17. Trolls are real.

People that live in the Lower Peninsula are called “trolls” because they live south of the Mackinac Bridge. We’re creative like that.

18. The Mackinac Bridge can be super scary.

We have one one of the world’s largest suspension bridges, and it connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan. There’s even a service that assists people too scared to drive across themselves.

19. Jacks are high, don’t you know?

So there’s this card game called Euchre. It takes four people to play and some call it the most confusing game around. Jacks are the high card, the winning suit constantly changes, and there’s also this thing called “reneging” that gets taken pretty seriously. And it’s better when played drunk. So, non-Michigander, good luck figuring it all out.

20. November 15 is sacred.

This is the start of deer season in Michigan and it coincides with people all across the state “calling in sick” to work or school. It’s weird. They all magically get better about a week later. Deer season means fresh venison, best in venison chili.

21. It’s not the liquor store.

It’s called the “party store.” Because, let’s just cut to the chase: you’re getting liquor to party, no?

22. We refuse to drink bad beer.

Unless that’s all there is, then it’s all fair game, of course. But with well over 100 breweries in the state, every town is close to a local brew pub serving up some of the best craft beers in the country. An enthusiastic shoutout to you, Founder’s, Bells, Perrin, Dark Horse, Oddside, Our Brewing Company, Greenbush and Arcadia!

23. Forget maps — just use your hand.

Ask a Michigander where they’re from and we’ll immediately point to some spot on our hand. That’s because Michigan is shaped almost exactly like two hands positioned in a certain way (it didn’t get the nickname “Mitten State” for nothing!), and every Michigander knows precisely what freckle their town is by.

24. Forget about Texas. It should be ‘Don’t mess with Michigan!’

The winters might be insanely harsh, but that just makes us tough because we handle it like non-whiney pros. We’ve got state pride in droves. We live in a pretty awesome place, and we wouldn’t trade it for any amount of your sunshine or palm trees. Even those of us who do eventually leave for a bit know, without a doubt, that first and foremost we are proud Michiganders at heart.

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