There’s no official guidebook for living here in the Great Lakes States. From our unique traditions to our favorite restaurants, there are some traits that can easily be adopted by newcomers. But there are a few standard experiences among Michiganders that are essentially rites of passage — and we’ve listed nine that will help determine if you’re a true Michigander.
1. Getting sick and immediately craving Vernor’s.
We Michiganders know that nothing soothes an upset stomach quite like a fizzy glass of Vernor’s. This beverage is so much more than ginger ale to us — in fact, we like to think of it as a magical elixir. The first time you reach for the Vernor’s instead of the Pepto Bismol, you know you’re a tried-and-true Michigander.
2. Referring to Meijer as "Meijer’s" without a second thought.
Yes, we know that the store doesn't actually have a possessive "s" at the end of its name, but that’s never stopped us before. Somewhere along the line, every Michigander begins referring to our state’s most popular stores as "Kroger’s" or "Meijer’s." It’s just something we do, and it won’t stop any time soon!
3. Seriously damaging your car after driving over a pothole.
Are you really a Michigander if you’ve never been victimized by a sneaky pothole on the highway? Our state is notorious for its bumpy roads, and there’s nothing worse than making your way happily along, only to be shocked by the appearance of an unforeseen pothole. If you’ve ever blurted out a string of swear words after unexpectedly driving straight over a patch of torn-up asphalt, you know you’re a genuine Michigander.
4. Getting decked out in Lions garb, only to watch them lose.
This one is painful — but every Michigander has done it at least once. You know the drill: you paint your face in blue, throw on your vintage Barry Sanders jersey, and head proudly to the local sports bar or even to Ford Field, only to watch the Lions narrowly miss a comeback at the end of the game. The disappointment is real, but somehow the pride remains.
5. Suddenly experiencing the intense urge for a pasty.
You’re minding your own business, munching on a granola bar at work — only to be struck by a strong and insatiable urge to consume a pasty. Yep, you’re officially a Michigander. Those of us in the Lower Peninsula don’t get to enjoy the hearty deliciousness of these classic Michigan delights very often, but one taste is enough to leave us wanting more.
6. Going to the beach in winter… and loving it just as much.
Tourists flock to Michigan each summer to appreciate the beauty of our Great Lakes. While we’re undoubtedly enamored with the warmth and and scenery of our beaches during summer, we also enjoy venturing out and exploring our lakes during the colder months. There’s something completely magical about the icy tundras of our Great Lakes when they’ve frozen over.
7. Driving to work in the middle of a full-on blizzard.
It’s no secret that Michigan winters can be a bit brutal, but that never stops a true Michigander! Once you’ve taken the plunge and made your way to work in the middle of some truly horrendous driving conditions, you’re basically a professional Michigander. Just be sure to get those snow tires put on your car!
8. Tearing up during a Pure Michigan commercial.
If you’re proud to be a Michigander, you’ll feel your heart swell as soon as the familiar sounds of Tim Allen’s voice make their way onto your radio or television. There’s just something about the flowery descriptions and emotional music that make us feel ridiculously grateful to be from such a beautiful state, and we might just get a little misty during each Pure Michigan ad.
9. Being asked where you’re from and automatically pointing to your hand.
Maps? What are maps? We Michiganders will always point to our hands when asked to explain where we’re from, and you know you’re a true Michigan resident when you’re quick to show your palm to a new friend who inquires about your hometown. After all, our state has one of the most unique shapes in America — so we’re putting it to good use!
Alright, Michiganders: it’s your turn! What are some rites of passage that distinguish the Great Lakes State from other parts of the country? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.
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