This is the story of a lovely place, where green grass grows and sparkling water flows.

Where the children are sturdy and smart, the stores are bustling and the government is scandal-free.

And the rest of us can’t stand it.

For this edition of Curious Minnesota, we’re answering the reader question, “Why does everyone love to hate Edina?”

“It’s a thing,” said Dominika Bielawski of Minneapolis of the sentiment that goes back decades. “Overly bougie people who want a white picket fence and a cookie-cutter life, everything served on a silver platter.”

Julie Barton of Minneapolis loves 50th & France and Southdale, Edina’s prime shopping destinations.

But “you gotta have a bad guy,” she said. “It’s easy to be against Edina because they are good: at sports, at money, at keeping things the way they want it.”

Edina hatred has spread far beyond the Twin Cities. Consider the original “Mighty Ducks” movie, when a rag-tag group of youth hockey players from District 5 (read: Minneapolis) is joined by a transfer from Edina. They initially scorn him as a “cake eater” – a spoiled rich kid -- before coming to accept him.

Go to the Urban Dictionary, perhaps the Internet’s No. 1 destination for an unfiltered look at what people really mean when they talk.

The top definition for “cake eater” — ahead of even Marie Antoinette — describes Edina.

Edina is wealthy, but not the wealthiest town in the Twin Cities. Woodbury, Chanhassen, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove, among others, all have higher median household incomes.

Edina’s schools are excellent, but U.S. News & World Report ranks Edina High School at No. 10 in the state. Mounds View, Eagan, Wayzata and Eastview in Apple Valley all are ranked higher.

So why the hate?

Perhaps it’s because Edina combines the things that have long symbolized the American dream — nice homes, tree-shaded streets, good schools — and hasn’t ever let go of them.

“There is always a little bit of hate that goes with the envy,” said Iric Nathanson, a Minneapolis historian and author. “And that is why some people may hate Edina.

“They really envy Edina, because it is the embodiment of the good life — at least as we think the good life should be here in Minnesota.”

‘We achieved Edina’

Edina as a target goes back for generations.

On March 21, 1975, the Minneapolis Tribune ran a cartoon by its talented humorist, Richard Guindon.

In the single-panel comic, a mother leans in earnestly to address her young son, perched on a wicker chair surrounded by hanging plants.

“Daddy and I weren't born in Edina, dear,” she says. “We achieved Edina.”
Guindon, now retired and living in Michigan, said he was completely unprepared for the response to the cartoon.

“The feedback just blew me away,” he said in an interview. Of all the cartoons he drew, rarely did any have the staying power of that one.

“People remembered the Edina thing when I had forgotten it,” he said with a chuckle. “So you wonder sometimes, what did you inadvertently do to tap a vein of something that seemed to work for people?”

In fact, he almost didn’t draw it in the first place.

“This was a note I had on my drawing board for maybe two years,” he said. “And I never drew the ‘achieved Edina’ thing because I didn’t think it was a joke. It was just a statement of fact, so to speak.”

Guindon’s cartoon crystallized, simply and vividly, a real feeling among Twin Cities residents. But why single out Edina?

“You can only attack people who are attackable,” Guindon said. “Edina is bulletproof. Nothing you say in a cartoon is going to put ‘For Sale’ signs all over town. You don’t make fun of someplace that’s run down.”

Nearly 45 years later, Edina is still a ripe target for satire.

“We can start with, one: We all know that everybody in Edina is very wealthy, and the rest of us resent their wealth,” said Doug Grow a former Star Tribune columnist. “Secondly, they too often win the state high school hockey tournament, and so we resent their victories.

“Third, at 50th & France, you cannot find a single fast food restaurant franchise.”

And don’t get him started on wintertime street plowing.

“On the Minneapolis side, you need a shovel and a prayer to get through,” Grow said. “And on the Edina side, it looks like Miami, the streets are so clear.”

Just win, baby

No look at Edina hatred would be complete without sports.

Edina has won state titles in basketball, golf, tennis and football. In skiing, gymnastics, swimming and track. In rugby and even Ultimate Frisbee.

And especially in hockey.

“It’s mostly about the hockey,” said Patti Huber of Farmington.
Edina regularly wins the boys’ state hockey tournament — 13 times in the last 50 years. Its girls have multiple titles, too.

“You know how it is at the state hockey tournament,” said Ryan Lund, an Edina hockey dad and Edina High alumnus. “Outstate teams cheer against the metro. Metro teams cheer against the private schools. And everybody cheers against Edina.”

Lund said Edina residents don’t worry about the hate.

“There is a community of people who grew up here, have stayed here and are committed to maintaining that level of excellence,” he said. “People have a high expectation of success, no matter what the endeavor.”

Cake eater, Lund said, “is a term that people think is a putdown. But I think most people in Edina laugh at it and even embrace it.

“I mean, if that’s the best you got. ...”

In fact, T-shirts mocking Edina hatred are hot sellers at General Sports, the local sporting-goods institution adjoining Braemar Arena.

“Edina Cake Eaters: Breakfast of Champions,” reads one, depicting a slice of cake in the school’s green-and-gold colors. “Edina: Every Day I Need Attention,” proclaims another.

The city’s youth hockey association sponsors an annual girls’ tournament, the Cake Eater Classic, that’s one of the largest tournaments in the nation. There’s a Cake Eater Classic for boys’ basketball, too.

Edina hatred is alive and well, even for those too young to know who Willard Ikola is. (He was the boys’ hockey coach who got the Edina dynasty rolling.)

But if it makes Edina haters feel better, Nathanson offered a reminder of what once was.

“In the teens and [19]20s, Edina had a lot of pig farms, and the people who lived there smelled bad,” the historian said.

“I haven’t smelled any Edinaites lately, but I assume that most of them smell pretty good these days.”

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