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The Carletonian

Calling all first years (and people not from Minnesota)

<ve you recently arrived on campus, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to settle into your cozy new dorm, indulge in Bon App’s gourmet boca burgers and suntan on the Mini Fracking Spot only to discover that you cannot discern the language—nay, lifestyle—of your peers? If so, keep reading.

Minnesota may indeed be a big and scary land filled with sayings, foods and cultural norms you’ve never before been privy to, but fear not, for I, Grace Rubin, born and bred in Boston, Massachusetts, will guide you through the common vernacular of this vast white expanse (with much needed help from Minnesota natives Peter Keel ’20 and Henry Bensen ’20. Endless thanks to them for their Minnesotan hospitality). Let’s begin!



It’s not a fire set of lyrics or a casual place to get smashed (and no, it’s not Xanax either). It’s Minnesotans’ favorite dessert! Bars are like brownies except they have caramel, cereal, chocolate, toffee, peanut butter, and whatnot added in. I’ve been told sometimes people stick the whole darn thing in a deep fryer and call it a day.

Marshmallow salad:

Looking for a healthier option? This isn’t it. Marshmallow salad, as Mr. Keel so thoughtfully explained, is made with Jello, canned pineapple, canned mandarin oranges, chopped nuts of your choosing, sour cream (?), whipped cream and marshmallows, of course. Think of it like a layer cake except you can buy all the ingredients at a gas station.


A very thin Scandinavian flatbread, supposedly good with butter or sugar. Upon utilizing Google Image search, I asked what the difference between lefse and a crepe is. I did not receive an adequate answer, and so I have concluded that the two are interchangeable. Lefse should not, however, be mistaken for naan or pita. These delicacies are entirely different foods.

One final note on food: soda is referred to as “pop,” whipped cream is “whipping cream” and casserole is “dish.” Tater tot dish seems to be a local favorite.




Oofda is like sh*t except we’re in Minnesota so people won’t swear. One might use this term upon tripping on a patch of black ice, failing a CS exam or accidentally calling your prof “mom.” If you drunk-text your ex about how much you love and miss them, oofda might not fully encapsulate how you feel when you wake up the next morning.

Up north:

The expression “up north” might refer to either a.) your family’s lake cabin/lodge/hut that your dad built with his own two hands and endearing Scandinavian work ethic, or b.) any rural place that isn’t Minneapolis or St. Paul. For anyone living outside Minnesota, “up north” would seem like Canada, but I was assured this is not the case.

Duck, duck, gray duck:

Remember duck, duck, goose, that childhood game you played at summer camp or during recess? Well it’s just like that, except in the great state Peter and Henry call home, the goose has been thrown out the window and replaced with a gray duck someone found in a puddle behind their lake house. No one seems to know where this expression came from or why there are no geese in Minnesota, but according to Peter, “gray duck is better,” so maybe us east-coasters and west coast dwellers are the ones missing out.

While this list is far from exhaustive, it should provide you with a comfortable bed of knowledge upon which you can rest, content and confident in all that you’ve learned. The next time you’re conversing with a Minnesotan, perhaps you can pull out one of these terms from your back pocket; it’s a surefire way of impressing those around you. I would know, after all. Good luck!

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