You Know You’re From the Midwest If…
There’s nothing like the heartland of America. The Midwest includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. It comprises about 20 percent of the United States population — and that 20 percent is probably the friendliest group of people you’ll ever meet.
In the Midwest, you have your weird slang (what does jeet mean?), love for everything cheese (cheese curds, anyone?) and that eagerly given heartland smile (do I know you?).
All of these quirky characteristics are what make the middle of America so wholesome and, well, so gosh-darn great. What are the other signs that you’re from the Midwest? Let’s dive in…
You Treat Total Strangers Like Family
Non-Midwesterners are often surprised and confused when they walk past a Midwesterner on the sidewalk and that person proceeds to make eye contact with them, wave enthusiastically and say “hello!” as if they’ve known them forever ... even though they’ve never seen them before in their life.
It’s called being friendly, folks! More people should try it!
You Think Cheese Is a Food Group
Here’s a question: If you’re not getting 3 to 4 cups of cheese per day, are you really from the Midwest?
Cheeseballs, beer cheese, cheese fondue and broccoli-cheese soup are all Midwestern food staples that you’ll notice at any and all types of gatherings. And that's not even accounting for cheese curds, which are kind of their own separate food group. (As is right.)
You Call Soda 'Pop'
Oh, you knew we were going to include this one.
This is probably the most obvious way to know that someone is from the Midwest, because who else calls soda “pop” in this big beautiful world? (Well, OK, besides some randos in the Northwest.)
Really, saying “pop” is a million times more fun than saying the totally boring “soda.” And it has a fun origin story, too: It reportedly comes from the sound made when people used to remove the cork from a bottle of soda. (Er, pop.)
Meanwhile, Southerners call soda “Coke” ... even sodas that aren’t Coca-Cola! This makes no sense!
You Think College Sports Are a Big Deal. Like a REALLY Big Deal.
College sports are kind of a big deal in the Midwest. And by “kind of a big deal,” we mean “THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BIGGER DEAL IN THE HISTORY OF TIME."
At just 18 to 22 years of age, college athletes are treated like royalty, cheered on by thousands of fans who regularly go hoarse screaming for their favorite Big Ten or Big 12 team. ("Goooooo Blue!")
The University of Michigan’s Big House routinely fills up with 109,000 fans from around the Midwest — larger than any NFL crowd!
You Know There’s Nothing Better Than Long Days Spent on the Lake
Forget salty oceans and chlorinated swimming pools. Midwesterners know there’s nothing like a freshwater lake.
If you’re from the Midwest, you probably know someone who owns a lakehouse and a pontoon boat (if you don’t own one yourself). Summers are spent on the lake with an American-themed bathing suit, a can of PBR and music blasting on the speakers.
In other words, summers in the Midwest rule.
You Genuinely Believe Puppy Chow Is America’s Best Snack
No, not dog food! Puppy chow! Chex cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar are mixed together to make this treat that’s a million times better than its name suggests.
Puppy Chow is usually made in bulk, then wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a red ribbon to be given to friends as gifts because, honestly, this is the best gift one can ever receive.
You’ll also see this addictive snack at parties, sleepovers, potlucks, picnics and snuck into college football games like contraband. How else are you going to sit through a three-hour-long game in the dead of winter?
You Can’t Wait for Fall Because That Means Apple Picking and Corn Mazes, Yay!
Let’s get one thing straight: Fall is life in the Midwest. It means crisp air, colorful leaves and pumpkin patches. Did October or November even happen if you didn’t go to an orchard to pick apples off a tree or pay to get yourself lost in a scary maze? Nope, it didn’t.
Fall is the time of year to eat caramel apples, drink apple cider and go on dates to the pumpkin patch. It’s very wholesome and very wonderful, and if you’re not from the Midwest, you’re really missing out.
You Believe There’s Nothing a Hotdish Can’t Fix
A hotdish is a Midwest food staple where you can put anything into a casserole dish (and we mean anything — tater tots, canned vegetables, cereal, soup, you name it) and bake it in the oven. That’s right, nothing in the cupboard gets left behind.
If grandma does it right, and she basically always does, hotdishes are divine. And they’re best served at a potluck among 15 other hotdishes.
You Say Wholesome Phrases Like 'Ope,' 'Oh Jeeze' and 'For Pete’s Sake'
“Ope! I accidently left the oven on after baking the casserole!”
“Oh jeez, how are we going to get out of this corn maze?”
“For Pete’s sake! How many times do I have to tell you to leave your snow boots outside of the house!”
These are also known as “mom phrases,” but in the Midwest, it’s not just moms who get to say them.
You Treat State Fairs Like an Official Holiday
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, state fair — these are all very important dates on the calendar. You simply can’t miss the state fair. And why would you? There are games, rides, farm animals, music ... and don’t even get us started on the food.
Let’s just say you won’t find any vegetables at a state fair — more like fried Oreos and deep-fried Jell-O — and that’s a very good thing.
You Think Culver’s Is Better Than Shake Shack, In-N-Out and Whataburger
Culver’s is the Midwest’s best fast-food burger joint. Actually, scratch that. It’s the best burger joint on planet Earth.
The East Coast’s Shake Shack, the West Coast’s In-N-Out and the South’s Whataburger? Please. There’s no competition.
So, what makes Culver’s so special? Cheese curds. Ha, we’re kidding — but it is a menu favorite. Culver’s burgers are called Butterburgers because (you guessed it) they’re made with toasted buttered buns. Pair that with concrete-thick milkshakes and patented hometown hospitality, and you have yourself an all-time great.
You Never Leave the House Without a Jacket
Nope, never. No siree Bob. Some form of a shoulder cover is coming with you when you leave the house, even if it’s the middle of a hot summer day.
Those brutal Midwest winters really do a number on the good people who live there. You just never know if it’s going to snow in June.
Your Wedding Photos or Senior Pictures Were Taken in a Field
You know you’re in a Midwest home when there’s a framed photo of a smiley, wholesome family sitting in the middle of hay surrounded by a corn or wheat field, as if that were a totally natural place to be hanging out, having a good laugh.
Oh, and don’t forget the flannel! The flannel is key.
You Say 'Jeet'
“No, I didn’t. Jeet?”
This word kind of flows in a sing-songy, up-talk way that makes you think twice about what was just asked. But if you really slow it down, it translates to, “Did you eat?”
Ah, not yet, but we could go for some cheese curds...
You Know What 'Lake Effect' Means
Not only are Midwesterners aware of what “lake effect” is, but they can explain it better than a meteorologist.
Are you from a coastal state where this was never taught in science class? Poor you. And allow us to explain: When warm moist air rises from a body of water and mixes with cold dry air overhead, it results in precipitation (aka snow), creating the lake effect.
Now, you know the stuff that really matters.
You Never Wore a Proper Halloween Costume
It’s really hard to wear a scandalous Halloween costume when mom makes you put on a ski suit as a base layer underneath.
The upside? Learning the unique skill of channeling your inner Michelin man to waddle from door to door, trying to get as much candy as possible before dark.
You Know What a Bubbler Is
A bubbler is a way-more-interesting way to say “water fountain.”
We don’t exactly know where the term comes from, but we know it has its roots in the Midwest, specifically Wisconsin. In our humble opinion, everyone should start calling a water fountain a bubbler because, like “pop” for soda, it’s just way more fun.
You Think Michelin-Starred Restaurants Are No Match for Bob Evans
No, we’re not talking about the brand of sausage from the grocery store. Bob Evans is a restaurant chain in the Midwest that’s known for its homestyle comfort food and genuine hospitality, and boy, does it give you just that.
Thomas Keller has nothing on the chefs at Bob Evans. Give us eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy served with that heartland smile.
You Know What a Watergate Salad Is
Surprisingly, the watergate salad is not related to the political scandal. The name is a mystery, as is who in their right mind first thought to mix pistachio-flavored Jell-O pudding with miniature marshmallows and canned pineapple and call it a salad.
But while it may be unattractive and green and more than a little weird, Midwesterners know this “salad” is also strangely satisfying and best served on dinner tables during Thanksgiving feasts.
You Hold Those Midwest Values Dear
If you’ve ever met a Midwesterner, you know they’re some of the most genial people around. And even science proves this is true.
A few years ago, University of Cambridge researchers assessed 1.6 million Americans and found that Midwesterners were the friendliest, with “moderately high levels of extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness.”
Why? Because they hold onto their Midwest values of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, humility, gratitude, neighborliness and all sorts of other super-good stuff.
Did we mention Midwesterners are the best?