Breaking news! The Mitten War


From the outside, underneath all those layers of winter clothing, your typical Wisconsinite looks kind, self-effacing, and a just a little fluffy. (It’s the down jacket. Really.) But unzip that jacket, take off the sweater, remove the long johns, call in a surgeon to open the chest cavity, and you will find a heart much like your own, a heart filled with mitten envy.

As the temperature goes down and the war heats up, Michigan pulls out its gloves and puts on its mitten (Map from:

While the rest of the nation frets about the economy, global warming, and Mitt Romney’s hair, tensions between Wisconsin and Michigan have been escalating. The Wisconsin board of tourism recently started a campaign to lure people to the state by depicting Wisconsin as a mitten. This enraged Michigan who has long been luring people to its state by posing as a mitten. (They have satellite images to prove it.) I’m sure you’re aware of how effective this has been. You want a vacation without the hustle and bustle of working people clogging up the streets as they go to and from their jobs? Then Detroit is your place; your Michigan fits your desire like a mitten.

What the people of Michigan have failed to understand, because I have not yet revealed it to them, is that the tourism campaign is actually a federally funded study on the effects of beer on Wisconsinites. (People here drink 38.2 gallons per person per year, which based on drunk driving arrests is probably about 30+ gallons too much.)

As part of the study, the members of the tourism board were forced to sit in a room with nothing but a large map of Wisconsin and an unlimited amount of beer. Although it took one member just three beers to see Wisconsin as a mitten, it took most of them six beers to see it. The lone holdout had to stand in the corner, squint, and drink another beer before he saw it.

The government is developing a rating system for tourism campaigns in every state and soon you will start seeing a little beer steins as the bottom of posters and flyers based on the average number of beers needed to understand or appreciate them.

Unfortunately, I am not a beer drinker, so I can’t see the mitten in the map. I may have to do my own study using wine. I’ll keep you posted. However, I was able to do about 90 minutes of research by squinting at a map of Wisconsin during a recent meeting I attended. I saw two things.

First, I saw a man gargling Green Bay.

Gargling Green Bay

Second, I saw a man with his hand at his throat wondering where he lost his mitten.

Where is that mitten?

As your Mitten War correspondent, embedded in the throat of Wisconsin, I am thankful that so far only words and images have been hurled about, But I’m worried; the only thing keeping Michigan’s mitten from grabbing Wisconsin by the throat is Lake Michigan.

38 thoughts on “Breaking news! The Mitten War

  1. Being from Michigan, I totally understand the ‘outrage’ felt by Michiganians regarding Wisconsin’s claim to be the Mitten State. I really like your interpretations. They also look a little like a boxing glove with the ties coming undone, don’t they? That’s okay…we’ll just b!$ch slap them into submission.

  2. Favorite line (hope the italics thing works): “What the people of Michigan have failed to understand, because I have not yet revealed it to them, is that the tourism campaign …”. Too funny! Ha ha ha ha!

  3. Frankly, I’m despondent that Wisconsin is unable to annex the northern chunk of Michigan so as to become a state shaped like a Snaggle-toothed Unicorn-anteater. ‘Cause, wouldn’t *that* make a cool thing to tout to the tourists!! But that’s just me.

    • Right now, I’m standing in the corner squinting and have asked for another glass of wine. Soon, very soon, I believe I will see the snaggletoothed unicorn-anteater. That surely would bring tourists our way.

  4. Actually, I think you can do a two state campaign and say you’re the lobster state. Oh, no lobsters there? Hmmmmmm. I’ll have another glass of wine and see what else I can figure out.

  5. What a great laugh, and a great way to start the day! My husband is from Wisconsin and I have been there many times (but never to Michigan). and we actually lived there for a while. Yes, we moved from Arizona to Wisconsin…in January. What can I say, we were stupid college kids. The only thing I do know is that I need mittens for a good part of the year in Wisconsin and likely in Michigan too, so I claim neutrality in the mitten war. But, I do know people in the Madison underground who will soon be receiving an anonymous link to your post. 🙂

    • It had to be love to move from Arizona to Wisconsin in January, and I hope your husband appreciates that sacrifice. It’s a beautiful state; it’s just too cold too much of the time. I’m not sure why there’s this mitten envy – it must be a midwestern thing. Glad you liked the post.

  6. If you look carefully, you can see two hands in the map of Michigan. One for the lower peninsula and one for the upper. We all describe where we live by using the mittens. I live in the lower part of the palm about 30 miles from the edge of the left side. Houghton, Michigan, is in the thumb of the upper peninsula. I have always thought that Michigander sounds silly.

    • Michigan clearly has reason to use the mitten to describe its state. Do most people refer to themselves as Michiganders? It’s hard to come up with something that sounds good: Michiganian is hard to say, Michiganer, Michigancers, Michiganions. I think I would call myself “person from Michigan” and the plural would be “people from Michigan.”

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