Wait, they didn’t include the Cat Video Festival? What about “Little House on the Prairie”? And Charles Schulz?

Minnesotans were abuzz last week when the Internet’s go-to source for funny lists — Buzzfeed — posted “38 things Minnesotans are too nice to brag about.” Locals loved it, plastering the article on Twitter and Facebook.

The list includes well-known favorites such as Honeycrisp apples, Garrison Keillor and Prince; but who remembered Jessica Biel was born in Ely? (Buzzfeed did.)

A quintessential Minnesotan like Don Shelby agrees there’s plenty to brag about.

“Bisquick and Scotch tape — I can’t live without either of these two things,” Shelby said.

Bisquick maker Betty Crocker (owned by General Mills) was on the list. Scotch tape was too (made at 3M).

But 38 items just isn’t enough to capture all of our pride. Shelby said he thinks snowmobiles should have made it, and maybe a few more nods to the lakes. Why? Because after living here for 35 years, the former WCCO-TV anchor is “thoroughly Minnesotan,” and those are definitely Minnesota things. The fisherman said he moved here for the lakes.

“I called my wife in Houston and said forget the other offers,” said Shelby, who had jobs waiting for him in five other cities. “We’re moving to Minnesota.”

We have more than lakes these days. Where else but Minnesota can you find a nationally recognized art institution hosting a festival dedicated to Internet cat videos, which drew more than 10,000 people? Thanks, Walker Art Center.

It’s clear Minnesotans still have a little bit more bragging to do. Here are nine more reasons to pat ourselves on the back.


Love it or hate it, but we still have a museum dedicated to that pinkish mass of spiced pork packed into blue and yellow cans. Hormel rolled the first can off its Austin production line in 1937 and sold its 7 billionth can in 2007. More than 75 years later, Spam still makes people ask, “What’s in there?”

Minnesota State Fair

Buzzfeed gave a nod to butter carvings, but the Great Minnesota Get-together deserves more than that. You get a bird’s-eye view of St. Paul on the Space Tower, see the biggest boar and witness the miracle of birth — all while toting around Sweet Martha’s cookies by the bucket.

Magnetic poetry

Dave Kapell wanted to write a song/ but the words just wouldn’t come/ paper was wrong/ it didn’t help him hum/ magnets he found/ kept the words bound/ in phrases until he wanted to move them/ his friends loved the white tiles/ so he made them by the pile/ and sold them in Calhoun Square/ now anyone can take the word “bear”/ rhyme it with “hair”/ and stick poetry on fridges everywhere.


Hockey player Scott Olson needed a way to train in the offseason. A pair of in-line skates got the wheels turning. In 1979, Olson bought the patent, tweaked the design and gave us the coolest way to hit the pavement (at least in the 1990s).

Oregon Trail video game

The dangers of cholera and dysentery never seemed so real. Thanks to MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium), brave middle school students could hitch up their oxen to a covered wagon and try to travel 2,000 miles unscathed (good luck).

‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’

This Comedy Central cult classic got its start at Minneapolis station KTMA, where evil scientists forced janitor Joel and his wacky robot sidekicks to watch the worst movies ever made. Their pain, our pleasure.

Craft beer

Fulton, Schell’s, Summit and Surly: You’ve got more than one good reason to toss back a brew. Minnesotans want craft beer. In the last few years Dangerous Man Brewing, 612Brew, Indeed Brewing and many more have opened their doors to answer the demand.


Commissioned to develop an easy-to-carry survival ration, Ancel Keys created the pocket package from hard biscuits, dry sausage and chocolate he bought at a Hennepin Avenue grocery store. The University of Minnesota scientist tested the meal on soldiers at Fort Snelling. The result: not delicious, but filling.

Water skis

Strapping two 8-foot-long pieces of lumber to his feet, 18-year old Ralph Samuelson became the first person to glide over Lake Pepin in 1922. The teen never got a patent, but that hasn’t stopped Lake City from celebrating “Crazy Sammy’s” invention every summer.


Morgan Mercer is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.