Thursday, August 29, 2013

30 Things Ohioans Love?

Many of you have read the Buzzfeed "article" going around Facebook called "30 Things Ohioans Love", written by a New Yorker (I'm assuming New York City as opposed to someone from elsewhere in New York state) who went to college in Ohio and is dating an Ohioan. I thought I'd evaluate his/her various "discoveries" based on my own experience living in Ohio for pretty much my entire life :). Overall, there weren't that many I found that were uniquely Ohio or they were regional to part of the state but not the entire state. It would be interesting to find out where this person went to college in Ohio and where the person he/she is dating is from. Probably the biggest mistake is assuming that Ohio is rather homogeneous when it really isn't. Each section of the state has its own local customs, sayings, dialect, and preferences that can vary greatly.

1. Ohio State football
Ohio State vs. Toledo in Cleveland, 2009
I'd say that's a pretty accurate assessment, though it's not universal. Places that you'll find some animosity towards Ohio State football include Athens (home of Ohio University), Cincinnati (home of the University of Cincinnati), and Toledo (just south of the Michigan border and not far from the campus of the University of Michigan), though even in those places you still have many OSU fans. It's similar in many other states that have a large flagship public university or with Mormons and BYU (though not THIS Mormon!), or Catholics and Notre Dame.  But yelling "O-H!"and getting "I-O!" back is pretty common. I had that happen to me in Salt Lake City when I was walking in the airport with my Ohio State sweatshirt on. Someone passed me and yelled "O-H!" and it took me a second to realize what they did and then I yelled back "I-O!"

2. Being a Swing State
I definitely enjoy the fact that Ohio is a swing state. Sure, it means we get TONS of political ads running for months on end and a seemingly endless stream of visits from candidates, but still, it's nice to feel like your vote really matters. Part of that is because Ohio doesn't have a dominant metro area like New York (NYC) or Illinois (Chicago), so you have a balance of rural vs. urban and a pretty even balance of conservative vs. liberal. I'm sure a lot of Ohioans, though, would rather not be in a swing state so that they don't get robocalls every 5 minutes for months before an election.

3. Ranch dressing
I fail to see how this is unique to Ohio or that Ohio has some kind of unusual affinity to Ranch dressing. I've lived in 3 other states and visited every one of them except California, Alaska, Hawaii, and Delaware, and have never noticed anything different. I mean, I like Ranch dressing, but hardly exclusively, and I've seen it in peoples' homes all over. According to this article, Ranch dressing is the top-selling salad dressing in the US, and has been since 1992, so while many of us Buckeyes do love Ranch, so does most of the rest of the country.

4. Hating LeBron
I am certainly not a fan of LeBron, but I wouldn't call that "hating". It's more because he plays for a different team than anything else. That said, I'm not really a fan of any specific player to the point I follow them if they change teams. For the most part, I think most Ohioans are indifferent to it all, particularly in his hometown of Akron where he has a fair amount of support because of charitable causes he participates in there. There is still a fair amount of animosity over how he left, but mainly with sports fans and not everyone here is a sports fan by any stretch.

5. Mountain Dew
I've seen people drinking Mountain Dew all over the country. Hardly anyone I know drinks it (LDS or not), and I certainly don't. I have never noticed any unusual love affair with Mountain Dew in Ohio. If anything, I've noticed more teenagers and college students drinking it.

6. Referring to random parts of random towns and cities as "downtown"
Downtown's not Manhattan, but it's still
a downtown!
For the most part, Ohioans follow the national norm of calling the central business district of a town "downtown", though sometimes it is misapplied, particularly in typical suburbs that never developed around a central business district (local examples of that are Stow and Streetsboro, though I have only rarely heard people refer to the centers of those places as a "downtown"). Many of the older smaller towns, Kent included, do have central business districts that have higher density and mixed use zoning, and are often referred to as downtown. But that's not unique to Ohio by any means and is fairly standard across the US and Canada. See Wikipedia: Downtown.

7. Sperrys
I have never owned nor wish to own Sperrys, and to be honest, didn't really know what they were called until I read this. I guess I have seen a lot here, but haven't noticed anything unusual or higher than any other place. I seem to associate them with certain types of people (very laid back, easy-going) rather than places. Maybe they had a lot where the author went to school or are popular with college-aged people?

8. Donatos
This is a regional thing, not a state thing. I am familiar with Donatos, but rarely ever have pizza from them because they don't have a location near where I live. I can list several other national and local pizza chains that are probably more popular than Donatos, at least in my experience, so I'm guessing this was another item more specific to where this person went to school or he/she was just around big fans of Donatos.

9. American-made cars
Maybe because I have a Honda, but I seem to notice quite a bit of foreign-made cars here, though it should be noted even many of the "imports" are manufactured either in the US or in North America (my Honda was manufactured in Canada). It would be interesting if there were a survey done of what kinds of cars people drive and if Ohio actually does have a higher percentage of American cars. We do have assembly plants for Ford, Chrysler, and GM in northern Ohio, but we also have a Honda assembly plant in central Ohio. Again, not something I've really noticed a major difference. In my own family, only my grandparents on both sides have American-made cars (Ford and GM) and my dad has a GM. The rest of us have Hondas, a Hyundai, and a Kia.

10. Defending the Cleveland Browns
I don't know if I'd call it "defending" the Cleveland Browns as much as it is just being a fan. We definitely have lots of loyal fans here for the Browns. Hope springs eternal every fall. But that is certainly not true in southern Ohio, which is Cincinnati Bengals territory. Parts of Ohio closer to Pittsburgh obviously have more Steelers fans, and NW Ohio has its share of Lions fans too. I would never say the Browns are "Ohio's Team" by any stretch.

11. Chinese buffets
I'm not really a fan of Chinese, so I don't go to buffets all that often. Again, this is something I can't say I've seen anything abnormal here, but who knows?

12. Dating their high school sweetheart far into college… or, eventually, just marrying them
The author must've known several people who did this. I know of some, but they're not all from Ohio. I know just a few from my own class who dated in high school and continued and got married eventually, but I also know people from other states who have done the same thing.

13. Cedar Point
Cedar Point, 2010
Yes, Ohioans love Cedar Point, but so do lots of people from around the country as Cedar Point is one of the most visited amusement parks in the US. Ohioans also love Kings Island near Cincinnati.

14. Referring to soda strictly as "pop"
I am one of those who generally use the term "pop", but my mom says "soda" and I know many people here that also use soda or they interchange "soda" and "pop" regularly (I do that sometimes). As this map shows, it's hardly unique to Ohio to use "pop" by any fact, it's fairly common across the northern US.

15. Most restaurant chains (namely: Panera, Olive Garden, Chipotle, and Outback. I could go on.)
I'm guessing that since the author is from New York, he/she generally has a local place or places they frequent. In most of Ohio, and most other places outside large cities like New York, you generally don't have lots of local choices. But that's not unique to Ohio by any means (New York is hardly void of restaurant chains) and varies from place to place. Even here in Kent, we have several local places or regional chains. In all my travels around the country, mostly by car, I haven't noticed anything unusual about restaurant chains in Ohio or Ohioans preferences.

16. Their high school
If you ever see this picture out on the web, I took it in 2009!
Rah rah for Roosevelt!
I think, for the most part, this is pretty valid, though, again, it's not that unique to Ohio. I have found that many Ohioans do keep tabs on their high school and feel like it was a good place, but isn't that what we want? Even so, I would say most of the people from my own class are completely detached from high school. Some communities are more into their respective high schools than others (usually smaller communities are more into them, but that's typical across the country). I certainly fall into that, but a lot of that is because I live in the town I grew up in, so it's easy to do (same with my college). I would say Ohioans are more into high school sports collectively than most other states.

17. Wearing athletic clothing while having no intention of working out
I'll have to watch for this. I wear what, I guess, could be considered "workout clothing" when I do yardwork, but mostly in the summer because it is lighter. Workout clothing for me, though, is typically gym shorts and a t-shirt. I've seen people in the stores here in what could be considered "workout clothing", but I just assume they're coming from or headed to some kind of workout or other use for it. Since I don't follow people around, I can't comment if they actually work out or not.

18. Chicken bacon ranch pizza and sandwiches
I have never had chicken bacon ranch pizza (I like bacon, but don't really get it on my pizza very often) and have only had the chicken bacon ranch sandwich from Subway once several years ago when it first came out. I'd say buffalo chicken is more popular, but that's my observation and preference. Come to think of it, I can't even think of even seeing chicken bacon ranch pizza until I read the article, and I live in a college town!

19. Drive-thrus in general
That's typical for just about any suburban area, so I guess it would be accurate that Ohioans love drive-thrus, but so does pretty much the entire US.

20. Saying “you’re fine” instead of “no problem” or “no worries”
This is true, though, I say "no problem" and "no worries" quite frequently. I do hear "you're fine" quite often, but haven't noticed it only in Ohio.

21. Skyline Chili
Skyline Chili is mainly in central and southern Ohio. I had never even heard of it until recently when I met some friends in the Cincinnati area at a Skyline Chili there and had a nice lunch (I actually got a wrap...I'm not a chili person). There are a few Skyline Chili locations in northern Ohio now (4 in the Cleveland area including Stow and one in NW Ohio in Lima), but it's still mainly found in the Columbus area and south and is based in Cincinnati. According to the Wikipedia article, Skyline also has locations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Florida.

22. Cornhole
It does seem popular here, so I guess it's accurate. I'm not really a fan of it, but will play it. It seems more popular with college-age and high school-aged people, though.

23. Claiming to live in a city but really living in a suburb
Yep, it's a city, like it or not!
I'm not totally sure what this means, whether it's a case of people saying they live, for instance, in Cleveland but they really live in Westlake, or a case of calling Westlake a city. Both aren't unique to Ohio. I frequently hear people say they are from a larger city, but if you ask "which part?" then they mention the more specific suburb. As for "city" vs. "suburb", a suburb often is a city, not a big city, but a city nonetheless, at least in Ohio and in the broader sense of the word. Since the author is from New York I'm not all that surprised that they make the difference, but in Ohio, any municipality over 5,000 residents is considered a "city" even if it doesn't have a central business district or is anything beyond a bedroom community. In some states, places with even just a few hundred people can be classified as a "city" since it often carries different legal definitions. "City" itself is a very ambiguous term that varies across the world and even in the US.

24. "The range"
I have never gone to and don't know anyone who goes to the range (based on the picture the author uses, I'm assuming they meant shooting range). I know people who regularly go to a driving range for golf, but not a shooting range. I'm guessing it's more of a rural thing. I can't even tell you where the nearest shooting range is off the top of my head.

25. Referring to sneakers strictly as “tennis shoes” or “tennys”
My experience has been that athletic shoes are often referred to as "tennis shoes". I hear "sneakers" a lot for shoes in general, though it's not a word I use very often since my shoes are running shoes. If I had sneakers, I'd probably just call them my shoes and then differentiate from my "running shoes". I usually call my black dress shoes "church shoes". I have never heard the term "tennys" used.

26. Graeter's Ice Cream
I had to look this one up because I've never even heard of it. Turns out, like Skyline Chili, it's based in Cincinnati, which would explain why I haven't run into it here in northern Ohio. It does have some Cleveland area locations, but none of them are anywhere close. My favorite local chain is Katie's Korner, which has a few locations in the areas around Youngstown, Ohio, including Kent.

27. Going to the beach aka Lake Erie
Lake Erie beach in Euclid, Ohio, 2013
In my experience, most people who go to the beaches along Lake Erie live fairly close to the lake (like within an hour). Many of the beaches, though, aren't bad, which is true for many of the Great Lakes, though some are rather rocky. I visited the Indiana Dunes a few weeks ago on the shore of Lake Michigan, and it was just like any ocean beach except the waves were a bit smaller (though that largely depends on the wind).

28. Referring to vacuums as “sweepers”
My grandma does this (she also calls gas stations "filling stations"), but it isn't a term that my mom adopted or that I use. Most people I know, myself included, call it a vacuum, though I do hear "sweeper" somewhat regularly. I've always considered it kind of an archaic term. If you want a unique Ohio term, try "devil strip" for the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road. That's pretty localized to Akron and the general vicinity. Many here also call it the "tree lawn".

29. Wendy's
I enjoy going to Wendy's, but can't say I go there any more frequently than other places when I get fast food. Yes, it's based in Ohio, but it's everywhere in the US. I can't say I've noticed any greater affinity for Wendy's here than anywhere else. Maybe in Columbus where it's based... (it's actually in suburban Dublin, Ohio).

30. Being "the birthplace of aviation"
My idea for a plate
I'm actually not a fan of that slogan, though I don't think it's out of place or wrong or even questionable. The Wright Brothers were from Ohio and did a lot of their preparations for the first flight in Dayton. They chose Kitty Hawk, North Carolina because of the favorable winds and other factors, and likely slightly warmer weather since it was done in mid December. Even so, I think most Ohioans are tired of that slogan and never really identified with it. For whatever reasons, whoever's in charge of that at the BMV really likes the slogan.  I've found a lot more love for the previous slogan "the heart of it all!" I made my own license plate that draws on the many aviation and space pioneers that have come from Ohio, particularly the first person on the moon Neil Armstrong.

There you have it. I guess I was disappointed that many of the things the author attributed to Ohioans weren't unique to Ohio at all or were localized to parts of the state (in these cases, central and southern Ohio), at least in my experience, but it did stop and make me think about the many wonderful and crazy things we do in this state and why.

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