Michiganders are up in arms over an infringement from their biggest rival since Ohio (see the Toledo War, Ohio State football): Wisconsin. The erstwhile cheeseheads have co-opted a Michigan nickname for a recent tourism campaign.
Michigan takes the nickname "the Mitten State" for the hand-like shape of the Lower Peninsula (see these map gloves that owned by many a Michigander).
But a new Wisconsin tourism campaign uses a brown mitten that is stretched to resemble the shape of Wisconsin.
The communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Lisa Marshall, said that the mitten was only one element of the state's advertising campaign.
"You guys still own the mitten," she told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "We'd much rather our travelers consider us the 'fun' state."
Dave Lorenz, manager of public and industry relations for the state of Michigan, didn't seem fazed by the Wisconsin campaign.
"We understand their mitten envy," he told the Kalamazoo Gazette, "but there is only one mitten state, only one Great Lakes state, there's only one 'Winter Wonderland' state -- only one, and it is Michigan."
Curbed Detroit had a more pointed response, with some choice words for Wisconsites: "Listen, cheeseheads, go knit yourself a new identity and stop tarnishing the mitten with your big fat hands!"
Here's the pickle: a 1969 article in the Chicago Tribune refers to Wisconsin as "the mitten-shaped state." The Michigan Historical Society was unable to identify when the mitten nickname was first used, so we need your help. Let us know in the comments how long you -- and your grandparents -- have been calling Michigan "the mitten."
One retaliation proposed in the HuffPost Detroit office is to steal one of Wisconsin's nicknames so "they know how it feels." We've got Pinnconning -- maybe Michigan can be the new Cheese State?
Another one of Michigan's nicknames, "the Wolverine State," also has dubious origins. Wolverine sightings would have been rare, so what explains it? One source says during the Toledo War, a rumor in Ohio circulated calling Michiganders as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines. Let that be a lesson, Wisconsin.
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