Michigan at the Archive of Michigan, photo by farlane
“Sometimes you got to put your foot down, or your mitten, so to speak.”
~Dave Lorenz, Travel Michigan
Last week the state of Wisconsin touched off a firestorm – snowstorm? – by suggesting that they might in fact qualify as a mitten state, prompting Pure Michigan to ask Who is the Real Mitten State? that for some reason we are only winning 83% – 17%. mLive has a look at the controversy that includes a the Badger’s case for Mittenhood (which appears to be no more than Mitten envy) and a really cool Vernor’s commercial with former Red Wing Petr Klima demonstrating “where it is on the hand.”
My good friend Jacob Wheeler has an excellent rundown on the Mitten Wars in which he notes that:
…the Badger state did have reason to be peeved at the Wolverine state. In 1835-36, Michigan and Ohio “fought” the Toledo War, a completely bloodless boundary dispute that resulted in Ohio getting the narrow stretch of land where the Mud Hens now play baseball, and Michigan getting three-quarters of what’s now the Upper Peninsula from Congress (it was previously considered “Indian territory”). Michigan’s gain was Wisconsin’s loss, as the western part of the U.P. would yield untold mineral wealth — and the historic Calumet Theater — over the next century and a half.
Wisconsin became a U.S. state in 1848, and contented itself with the cheese curd as its gourmet food favorite, and not the meat and potato-filled pasty, which the Finnish immigrants to the U.P. carried with them into the mines. Wisconsin’s bitterness simmered, for 175 years, like Golum clutching the ring deep in the caves of Middle Earth.
That angst finally boiled over this week when the Travel Wisconsin website posted a knit mitten shaped like the state of Wisconsin on its website as part of a winter tourism promotion campaign. Michiganders who identify themselves in the world beyond with an open-faced right hand, took the news as a humorous, yet serious, challenge.
“People in Michigan, we do identify ourselves so closely with the Mitten State,” Alex Beaton of the Awesome Mitten website told the Washington Post (seriously, the Washington Post?). We’re America’s high five!”
Jacob adds that Wisconsin PR pro Tom Lyons suggested that “Wisconsin is the left mitten. Michigan is the right mitten. Even children know that one mitten doesn’t cut it when it comes to Midwestern winters.” Lorenz (who seems to be on fire right now) shot back “We’re not going to take this lying down. Wisconsin already took the Rose Bowl from us this year. They’re not going to take the Mitten State status from us.” Amen. Definitely read on at the Sun for more including a Michigan vs. Wisconsin matchup.
I took this photo of the 4-story map showing Michigan’s topography at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing several years ago. I was never able to find out who designed it, but you can see another view and check out the online tour of the museum. View this photo background big and see more from the museum in the Michigan Historical Center group slideshow.