It takes a special kind of person to love all the idiosyncrasies that make Wisconsin great. Not everyone can cut it as a Wisconsinite. In fact, most people think we must be a little bit nuts to choose to live here year round. That’s ok, though. We embrace our slightly odd nature. We’re fine that most everyone else fails to see why The Dairy State is the best state. More room for us, we say!
But even though we don’t miss those other folks, we can sort of understand where they’re coming from. Being a tried and true Wisconsinite makes us a bit odd. We revel in it, but that doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge it. Here are 17 ways we Wisconsin folk are frankly just a bit strange:
1. We take our cheese VERY seriously.
We're the only state in the country that requires you to be licensed to make cheese and has a Master Cheesemaker program.
2. We're the only state to have the accordion as our state instrument.
Our dedication to polka is no joke.
3. Deer hunting weekend.
I always love the look on an out-of-towner's face when I explain what a deer hunting widow is. That weekend is sacred and I've heard families say they prepare more for that than they do the holidays or a family vacation. Deer hunting weekend has a ritual that must be observed and every family's is slightly different. Even if you're not a hunter, you know when deer hunting weekend is. The roads and stores are more empty, school classes are half-full and there's more blaze orange in the wild than normal.
4. The Garage Fridge.
I've never experienced this phenomenon elsewhere. We have a fridge in our garage that most of the year is home to additional beer, but in certain seasons is also stuffed with fish, pheasant, ducks, turkeys, deer and more. There's nothing worse than opening someone's garage fridge expecting beer but instead being greeted by the cold, dead eyes of last week's hunt.
5. The Recombobulation Area.
A few places have started to steal the idea, but Milwaukee airport's Recombobulation Area is the original. Once you go through security, your bag is half-unpacked, your shoes are off, your belt's in your hand and you're all kinds of discombobulated. Clearly there should be a spot where you can put yourself back together!
6. The Brandy Old-Fashioned.
Wisconsinites love their brandy. In fact, 1/3 of all the brandy Korbel makes comes to Wisconsin. More and more places have brought the Old Fashioned back into fashion, but it's not the brandy-soaked love affair that we have here. Every few years a new rumor surfaces that a city where the Badgers are playing "runs out" of Brandy because they were unprepared for the hordes of Wisconsin fans.
7. We eat more brats than hot dogs.
We LOVE our bratwurst. In fact, Miller Park is the only stadium in all of Major League Baseball to have a brat - or any other sausage - as their leading seller. Everywhere else, they stick to hot dogs, but here we know where the gettin's good. Brats for all!
8. We will grill or tailgate no matter the weather.
It's a totally normal occurrence to see a path shoveled to the grill. Some cold weather and precipitation isn't going to stop us. Have you ever seen the crowd around Lambeau in the middle of January? Nothing keeps us from grilled brats, no matter what.
It's not so much about wearing the piece of foam cheese. The thing about these silly hats (and bras, and neckties and ...) is that they came out of us deciding to own a derisive nickname. Bears fans used to love picking on Cheeseheads and we were supposed to be upset or embarrassed, I suppose. But in typical Wisconsin fashion, we turned it around, made it fun and didn't let some downers ruin our fun.
10. Starting your car long before you're ready to leave home.
Maybe it's a midwestern nice thing. Maybe we are just too trusting. But most of us wouldn't think twice about starting up our car and letting it get warmed up while we finish our morning routine.
11. Up North.
Far more than a direction or a destination, Up North is a state of mind. Up North is cabins and woods, fishing and swimming. It's fires and piers and relaxation. It's dinner at a supper club and your favorite ice cream parlor. Up North is slowed down and chill and it's the perfect place to be nearly every season of the year.
12. The Friday Night Fish Fry.
You'll find Friday night fish options around the country during Lent, but nowhere else is as committed to the year-round fish fry like we are. Everyone has their favorite and the debate on potato, fries or potato pancakes has been known to cause family feuds. The Friday Fish Fry is about gathering the family and eating together. It's about community and conversation. It's totally, uniquely Wisconsin.
13. Cheese curds.
No one else in the world seems to have the affinity for this part of the cheesemaking process that we do. Curds are a part of cheese, but Wisconsinites are the ones who decided that this slightly "unfinished" bit of the cheese was the one we would live and die for. Fresh and squeaky or melty and fried, the curd is synonymous with Wisconsin and everyone else is just jealous.
14. Our accent.
I like protesting that we don't have much of an accent as much as the next guy, but there's no fighting our long vowels and nasally delivery. Combine that with some of the place names we have that no one else can seem to master and you're basically waving a big red flag proclaiming where you're from.
15. The snow cooler.
Having a big winter holiday get-together and run out of room in the fridge? If your garage fridge is already full, look no further than the back porch. When it's routinely colder than the fridge outside, there's no reason not to use nature's coolant to keep the beer and soda chilled for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and the Super Bowl.
16. Being totally unaffected by the cold.
We all have that neighbor that shovels in his shorts and I've definitely headed out to run errands in December without a coat on. We're hardy folks and we're well used to the cold, so for the most part it never really fazes us. You can always pick Wisconsinites out when you're traveling - we're the ones without the coat, gloves, mittens and sweater.
17. We take our butter VERY seriously
It's still illegal in Wisconsin to substitute margarine for butter without notifying the customer - even in the state jails. Bread baskets have to come with butter. Heck, margarine has only been legal in the state for about a generation - folks used to cross state lines and "smuggle" margarine back. Neighbors would collaborate on margarine runs.