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Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck…

September 26th, 2002

Many years ago, as a child, I asked my cousins to play “Duck Duck Gray Duck.” Instead of forming a circle and smiling with glee, they stared at me as if I had just asked them to play Gazordinplat (*see below). Imagine my shock when I found out that they all played “Duck Duck Goose” instead of the obviously correct “Duck Duck Gray Duck!

Years later, when the topic came up again, I surmised that only Minnesotans play “Duck Duck Gray Duck,” whereas the other 49 states play “Duck Duck Goose.” Even the 51st state, Canada (eh?), plays the Goose corruption.

Now that I live most of the year in Indiana, I often need to defend the Gray Duck tradition against Goose insurgents. Unlike the great soda vs. pop debate, Minnesotans fight a lonely battle on the Gray Duck – Goose battlefield. Fortunately, all true Gopher-state natives will vehemently oppose any uprising against this polarizing game. Encounters between Minnesota zealots and ‘those other guys’ can turn messy, as more than one cafeteria food melee has shown. I hypothesize that the source of the rift can be traced back to the childhood story, “The Ugly Duckling.”

In “The Ugly Duckling,” a gray duckling finds itself in a duck’s nest, surrounded by yellow ducklings. The gray duckling is an outcast, even more so as the yellow ducklings develop into mature ducks. Eventually, the gray duckling discovers it isn’t a duck at all – rather, it is a swan. The swan is more refined than any of the ducks, and the story ends with a moral about not judging people by their looks.

Based on “The Ugly Duckling,” the gray duck is the oddball amongst yellow ducks. Hence, it would make sense to drop the ‘yellow’ moniker and call the true ducks, ducks. Therefore, we have a bunch of ducks and a single gray duck. Duck, duck, gray duck! Then where did goose come from? The rest of the world no doubt saw a picture of the gray duck when it grew up. Instead of recognizing the mature gray duck as a swan, the duck-duck-goose founders saw a goose. At which point, one of the founders, being from ‘down south,’ pulled his 12-gauge from the rack in the truck and blew a hole through the photograph. Well, maybe not the gun part. Unlikely scenario? Think you know your geese? Pop quiz: Which is correct: Candian Geese or Canada Geese? Yep, the latter is the proper version. This is not to imply that those playing duck-duck-goose think of the goose as a Canada Goose. In fact, the above factoid has nothing at all to do with my primary argument: that duck-duck-goose is just plain wrong. Unfortunately, the rest of the world seems not to agree.

So why doesn’t Minnesota change? We’re very zealous about our Minnesota-ness. Minnesotans, in general:

  • Play duck-duck-gray-duck
  • Drink pop
  • Let slip an occasional, ‘ya know’
  • Consider a foot of snow a light dusting
  • Eat (or at least know of) bars, hot dish, and lutefisk
  • Enjoy talking about Minnesota
  • Go for vacations ‘up north’
  • Consider 5 F ‘a bit cool’ and 85 F ‘really hot’
  • Make fun of Iowa
  • Respond to “Thanks!” with “You bet!”
  • Know that the Vikings are always better than the Packers

After all, we have a book called “How to Talk Minnesotan.” Does your state? That’s what I thought.

So, Minnesotans, unite! Proclaim it often, proclaim it loud: Duck, Duck….. Gray Duck!

* For those of you scratching your heads, ‘gazordinplat’ is a made up word finding its roots in a “Garfield and Friends” cartoon episode. This page marks its first (and only) appearance on the World Wide Web

  1. Keacher
    December 14th, 2005 at 23:08 | #1

    Turns out that the made-up word is really spelled “Gazorninplat”

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