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Getting smitten with the mitten

December 22, 2011
By Andy Heller , Daily Press

FLINT - In a new tourism promotion, the state of Wisconsin is swathed in a tan, knit mitten, thus suggesting to tourists that it, and not Michigan, is the true Mitten State.

That's wrong on a lot of levels.

First of all, there's the obvious: Wisconsin doesn't look like a mitten unless you whack off the Upper Peninsula and all the other states around it, which is what Wisconsin did.

Article Photos

Andy Heller

As someone who is proud to have been raised in the U.P., I resent it when that's done. Usually it's the fault of graphic designers who are trying to save space on a postcard, bumper sticker or advertisement. But that doesn't make it right. The state of Michigan has even done it.

"That's one of the reasons the U.P. will secede someday, you watch," says my back home pal Moon Dimple, who is the assistant grand vizier in charge of public relations, obfuscation and hoo-ha for the SNOWE movement, or Secede Now, Eh. "You can only push people so far."

Even with the U.P. and other states removed, Wisconsin just isn't mitten-shaped.

Sure, it's got the Door Peninsula, which sticks out and up into Lake Michigan. But it looks more like a pinkie than a thumb. A mitten with the pinkie singled out instead of the thumb isn't really a mitten at all. I don't know what it is, but it isn't a mitten.

To be honest, I don't understand why Wisconsin felt it had to go this route. It has attributes to highlight. It has the Green Bay Packers, whom I've rooted for since I was a kid.

And it's got um hold on, I'll think of something. It's got oh, yeah, Milwaukee. I haven't been there in decades, but "Laverne & Shirley" was funny.

It's also got cheese. Why didn't they go with that? If they're imaginative or desperate enough to turn the state into a mitten, they surely could turn it into a wheel of cheese. Maybe that wouldn't draw the tourists, though. "Hey, kids, we're going to the Great Cheese State, wheee!"

I know what they were going for with the mitten thing. They're trying to portray Wisconsin as a winter wonderland, and what says winter more than a mitten? But there's a flaw in that thinking.

Anyone who knows cold and snow - and would thus be inclined to vacation in the winter when most sane people are dreaming of a beach somewhere warm - knows that knit mittens are useless garments.

They get sloppy wet after two snowballs and the ice sticks to the little fibers, so within minutes your hands weigh 12 pounds and look like the fringe of a mariachi sombrero.

So an ad campaign that equates mittens with winter tourism is all wrong.

The money in winter tourism is from snowmobilers and skiers, and they wear gloves not mittens. Maybe they should have turned the state into a giant Gore-Tex glove.

Or maybe they should try this: Wisconsin is known for its beer, so why not pretend for advertising purposes that the state looks like a giant beer keg, with the Door Peninsula being the hose and spigot.

If you use your imagination you can picture it.

Especially if you drink a lot of beer first.

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EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at aheller@flintjournal.com.

 
 

 

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