kali9/E+ via Getty Images
Every region of the United States has its own quirks. We are partial to those of the Midwest. Certain Midwestern behaviors like measuring distance in hours and smiling at strangers stick with you even after you’ve moved from the cornfield or the cul-de-sac to the city. Maybe Midwestern niceties are just baked into the region’s famous casseroles or chugged from cans of pop. Regardless, you know you’re from the Midwest if you commit these 23 tell-tale signs.
Grandma’s house isn’t 20 miles away, it’s a 40-minute drive. “I live 10 minutes from the high school” and “We’re about an hour south of Minneapolis” are better ways to gauge distance than a silly unit known as miles.
In the suburbs, a mile and a half walk to your favorite restaurant is a mile and a half too far. You get into the car instead. Still, despite driving constantly and politely following the rules of the road, you have no idea how to parallel park.
Saying goodbye is never a quick process for Midwesterners. If you want to leave anywhere by 10 p.m., you know to start your exit around 9:15. You must say goodbye to every single person, which also involves a quick catch-up session and promise to see each other again soon. Failing to do so could mean committing an etiquette mistake.
Sorry! Midwesterners will apologize for literally anything. Did someone bump into you at the grocery store? Sorry! Is your coworker speaking a little too softly? So sorry, can you repeat that? Heck, if you’re a real Midwesterner, you know you should even apologize to tables and chairs that are in your way.
Not only do you say hi, bye and sorry a lot, but you’re down to chat with most people at most times. Before they even ask, you lend a helping hand to someone who needs it. All that kindness is genuine. It’s just in your Midwestern blood — or maybe the lake water.
Try as they might to be kind, a suburban Midwesterner cannot help but see their lawn as a competition. If your neighbors have dry grass, a yard covered in leaves or an untended garden, they’re clearly off their rockers.
In the Midwest, it can be a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning, a steamy 80 degrees in the afternoon and a crisp, cool 60 in the evenings. Layers might not always keep you warm, but you still faithfully tuck a cardigan, hat and pair of gloves in your bag each morning.
Beyond pure competition, you love football season because it means tailgating. Opening up your trunk and grilling burgers, hot dogs, sausages and more makes for an autumnal highlight. Of course, no tailgate would be complete without an ice-cold beer (or two or three). Lager or ale? Learn the difference then impress your friends with your beer knowledge.
Whether you call it puppy chow or muddy buddies, this combination of Chex cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar is one childhood recipe you sure remember.
Why take a dip in a pool full of chlorine or swim in salty beach water when you can leap into a crisp, refreshing freshwater lake instead? The best summer days were spent on the shores of your local lake with a cooler full of pop and sandwiches. If your family was feeling extra adventurous, you may have even headed to the nearest Great Lake.
Everyone in the Midwest will swear there is no accent, but sorry, you kind of have an accent. Try saying cot and caught three times in a row. Or greet my friends Don and Dawn? Yep, your Midwesterner is showing.
At times, Midwestern life can become a bit boring. So you’ve likely spent a Saturday away at the mall. Not just commercial shopping centers, malls are integral Midwestern social institutions too. You circle a mall to shop, gossip and occasionally run into someone you may have been avoiding. And you don’t forget to eat. Luckily, food court food is the best food.
“Why fly? It’s only a 12-hour drive” is not an uncommon phrase in the Midwest. Whether you’re going to the family’s lake house up in Michigan or down to Walt Disney World for a summer vacation, no distance is too far for a good old-fashioned road trip. You may have once even made a pit stop at Ohio’s field of giant corn, Michigan’s giant carrots or the other coolest Midwestern roadside sights.
You betcha, a true Midwesterner will say “ope” when they run into any and all inanimate objects. Midwesterners also call a vacuum a “sweeper,” drop helping verbs and have been known to call a traffic light a “stop and go light.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the best slang terms from around America.
More from The Daily Meal: