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Michigan to Wisconsin: Hands off our mitten

A new winter promotion depicting Wisconsin as a left-handed wool mitten has neighboring Michigan – long known as the “Mitten State” for its own suggestive geography – unraveling with indignation.

According to the Associated Press, Alex Beaton of the Awesome Mitten website spotted the offending image on the Travel Wisconsin website this week, kicking off a bare-knuckled social media campaign.

“Everyone knows that “The Mitten” belongs to Michigan! Ask anyone to describe the lower peninsula and you’ll be talking to the hand as they point out their location on their palm, as that part of the state is shaped like a hand. Ask about the UP (Upper Peninsula) and you might just get a two-handed gesture,” argues Detroit’s“Listen, cheeseheads, go knit yourself a new identity and stop tarnishing the mitten with your big fat hands.”

Wisconsin Department of Tourism spokeswoman Lisa Marshall told the Detroit Free-Press her office didn’t intend to stick a finger (or thumb) in Michigan’s eye.

“The mitten was used as a single creative element, you guys still own the mitten,” she said. “We’d much rather our travelers consider us the ‘fun’ state.”

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Dave Lorenz, manager of public and industry relations at Travel Michigan, said he was surprised by how many Michiganders expressed dismay over Wisconsin’s mitten. But he understands their sentiment, he told AP, especially after Wisconsin beat Michigan State in last weekend’s inaugural Big Ten football championship game.

“We’re not going to take this lying down,” he said. “Wisconsin already took the Rose Bowl from us this year. They’re not going to take the Mitten State status from us.”

“We understand their mitten envy,” he added, “but there is only one mitten state, only one Great Lakes state.”

A born-and-bred Badger, I can see both sides of the Great Mitten Debate.

Granted, Wisconsin’s scenic Door County peninsula looks a lot more like a bony finger than a thumb.

But I also think jealousy over the Dairy State’s powerhouse football teams (the Green Bay Packers are 12-0; the Detroit Lions 7-5) has clouded the Mitten State’s hand-ling of the matter.

My advice to Michigan: Chill – with or without the mitten.

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