Top 10 Midwestern Things
The Midwest is that region of the country in the northern middle of the United States including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and the eastern part of Colorado. There are certain things that happen in the Midwest that just don't happen in other parts of the country, things that are strictly Midwestern. Here are the top 10 Midwestern things you might or might not know about. We'll start with one of the weirdest things that you're likely to see if you happen to be visiting or just driving through.
10. Riding your Mower to the Convenience Store
This is one of those things that you might think is just an urban legend, but let me tell you that this one is real. Living in Michigan, I have witnessed tractors and riding mowers parked at convenience stores and bars on several occasions. You can even see them being taken through drive up ATMs and through the drive thru at McDonalds. Why does it happen? Well, the truth is that it could be just because a car isn’t available, or in the case of my uncle, a revoked license. Sure, you can't drive a car, but that doesn't mean you can't take the mower for a spin. Only in the Midwest!
9. State and County Fairs
Everybody goes to the fair – it's one of the biggest social events of the year. Monster trucks, fireworks, beer tents, live music and thousands of farmers tans – that’s what a state fair looks like. But the real thing that you have to experience at a Midwest State Fair is the food. There is probably a greater variety of food at a Midwest fair than you'll find anywhere else in the world. Favorites like Elephant ears and lamb burgers, roast ox and deep-fried pork tenderloin sandwiches are the standard and that’s the tip of the iceberg.
8. Fried Cheese Curds
You only find cheese curds where cheese is made because they go bad after about 24 hours. They have to be used right away. So, where is cheese made? The Midwest! This byproduct of the cheese making process is a deep fired staple of the Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota diet! For the most comprehensive look at cheese curds you've ever seen, check out the feature on thenibble.com.
7. Corn Mazes
The Midwest grows more corn than the entire rest of the country combined. This has led to a secondary industry that comes after the corn has been harvested – the corn maze. The corn maze is almost ubiquitous with pumpkin farms and cider mills. Mazes pop up every year and get more and more elaborate as local farmers compete against each other for the biggest, baddest, most amazing maze ever. Interestingly, the largest corn maze in the world isn't in the Midwest – it's in California.
6. Tornado Skies
If you ask someone from the Midwest what a wall cloud is you'll get various answers, all of which pertain to tornadoes. You could get a story about sitting on the front porch and watching as a tornado went by or of the F-3 that hit the town a few years back. One thing is for sure, everyone in the Midwest is familiar with the olive green pre tornado cloud, the one that screams at you to head to the basement or face the wrath of mother nature at her most dangerous.
5. Summer is Bug Zapper Time
The Midwest is a breeding ground for bugs of all sorts. During the summer, the hum and purple light from bug zappers can be seen on almost every porch. It's like if you live in the Midwest that on May 1st it is mandatory to put up a bug zapper. If you don’t you might get carried away by a flock of renegade mosquitoes.
4. Wearing Shorts in the Snow is Acceptable
The weather in the Midwest is almost always a topic of discussion. In the early spring it can be 80 degrees at noon and then snowing by dinner. If you start out the day in shorts, there's no need to change, just enjoy the normal temperature fluctuations. Besides, in the Midwest it isn't the actual temperature that counts, it's the "feels like" temperature.
3. The "Feels Like" Temperature
The temperature in the Midwest is only half the story. The humidity can range from nearly nothing to a saturating 100%. So, our weathercasters give us a "feels like" temperature when the humidity gets high. One day it could be a high of 78 and feel like 90 and the next it could be a balmy 65! That’s why we never really put our summer or winter clothes in storage. You never know what it's going to feel like.
2. Deer Hunting
With the corn comes the deer. With the deer overpopulation comes deer hunting season. This is a whole culture in and of itself. If you don't know about deer camp and the two weeks of firearms season, here's a good place to start. Be careful, the rabbit hole goes deep on this one.
1. There are Two Seasons – Winter and Road Construction
In the Midwest we may technically have four seasons, but in reality there are only two, the winter when all of our roads are damaged by the freezing and thawing of the ground and April through October when construction crews are busy blocking highway lanes and backroads to fix all the damage done over the winter. Want to feel our pain, listen to the Orange Barrels song.
BONUS – It's Not Soda, It’s Pop
This is one that everyone knows about, but I don't think it's a Midwestern thing. In the Midwest you can have a pop when you want Coke or Pepsi. Don't try that down south though. Here's a map that breaks it down for you.