9 Minnesota Nicknames That You Should Know

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An aerial shot of a city with skyscrapers near a river under a blue sky
Due to its rich history, Minnesota has many interesting nicknames

Minnesota, the 32nd state of America, is located in the Upper Midwestern region of the country, bordering Canada. It's the 12th-largest state and is often called the Land of 10,000 Lakes because, you guessed it, Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes.

Minnesota actually comes from a Dakota Sioux word that means clear blue water, which is quite apt. But beautiful lakes aren't the only thing Minnesota has to offer. Other perks include the attractions of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), delicious food, and competitive sports.

Due to the area's varied history and culture, there are plenty of Minnesota nicknames to learn, so keep reading!

9 Nicknames for Minnesota

Minnesota Nicknames Video

Check out our highlights video of Minnesota nicknames.

A zigzag concrete walkway in the middle of a body of water leading to a lighthouse
Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes yet still uses the nickname "Land of 10,000 Lakes"

Land of 10,000 Lakes

Land of the 10,000 Lakes is one of Minnesota's self-explanatory nicknames. It's actually not perfectly accurate, though, since Minnesota has 11,842 lakes. The state is even on the border of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior, which is one of Minnesota's landmarks.

Though this MN state nickname isn't official, it's clear Minnesotans are proud of their lakes as all license plates in the state say "10,000 Lakes" on them.

The Gopher State

One nickname with a unique backstory is the Gopher State. A fun Minnesota fact about this nickname is that many people thought the name started because the state is full of gophers, but it's actually from a political cartoon from 1858.

The cartoon had half-human, half-gopher characters depicting state legislators who pushed for a bonding bill of five million dollars to build new railroads. The cartoon was popular among Minnesotans for years, causing the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Fair to adopt gopher mascots that are still present today.

A low-angle view of a bridge over a body of water near trees
The Land of Sky-Blue Waters is one of the Minnesota nicknames known mainly by locals

Land of Sky-Blue Waters

The nickname, The Land of Sky-Blue Waters, originated from Charles Wakefield Cadman's and Nelle Richmond Eberhart's song, From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water.

They wrote the song about the Minnesota River and released it in 1909. Then in the 1950s, Hamm's Brewery, which was established in Minnesota, adapted the song for its advertisements, making it well-known among Americans. This isn't one of the most popular nicknames today, but many Minnesotans remember its origin.

The North Star State

While there are plenty of MN nicknames, the official nickname of the state is the The Star of the North. Minnesota state emblems, like the seal and state flag, have a French phrase, L'Etoile du Nord, which translates to The Star of the North. This was then shortened to refer to the state, hence "The North Star State."

It's debated, but most historians believe this nickname is in French in tribute to the early French explorers who settled here before it officially became a US state. They likely chose this motto as Minnesota is the northernmost state in the US.

Bread Basket of the Nation

Minnesota shares the nickname, the Bread Basket of the Nation with other Midwestern states. These include North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Since the land is so flat and fertile in the Midwest, it's the ideal place to grow wheat. Farmers or mill companies then turn this wheat into flour, which can be used to make bread. Wheat grown in the bread basket states is in high demand across America and the world, which popularized this Minnesota state nickname worldwide.

Cows resting by the grass near an old barn
Minnesota's dairy industry created the name Bread and Butter State in 1901

The Bread and Butter State

Another nickname Minnesota got because of its wheat production is the Bread and Butter State. As it's a farming state, dairy production became popular as well.

In 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, Minnesotans presented a pamphlet stating, "Minnesota, the Bread and Butter State," claiming the nickname for themselves.

Today states like Wisconsin, Idaho, Kansas, and North Dakota produce more dairy and wheat than Minnesota, so this nickname isn't as popular anymore.

State of Hockey

Another self-explanatory Minnesota nickname is the State of Hockey. Minnesotans love hockey, some even see it as a way of life rather than a game.

The state has a long history with ice hockey, as the first organized team was formed in 1895. This University of Minnesota hockey team played their first game against a team from Winnipeg.

In 1967, the state got an NHL team, the Minnesota North Stars, who played until 1993, when the team moved to Texas as the Dallas Stars. Seven years later, in 2000, Minnesota had a team again, the Minnesota Wild.

During this expansion, the State of Hockey moniker was used as a marketing campaign to gain new fans. Now, the term is a state-wide nickname.

The Wheat State is one of the Minnesota nicknames linked to its agriculture sector
Wheat is one of the top crops produced in Minnesota, hence the Wheat State nickname

The Wheat State

Similar to the Bread Basket of the Nation, Minnesota got the nickname the Wheat State from its abundance of wheat crops.

Farmers first started planting wheat in the 1850s, and by 1880, approximately 70% of Minnesota's farmland was covered in wheat. Today, Kansas produces much more wheat than Minnesota, so it may have stolen the Wheat State nickname.

New England of the West

In the 1840s and 1850s, Minnesota welcomed a large amount of New England emigrants, granting it the nickname, The New England of the West. In fact, by the 1860s, 80% of Minnesota's US-born population came from New England and New York.

People from Asia, Europe, and Mexico also came to Minnesota, all with the promise of resources, land, and jobs. As Minnesota is much more diverse now, this nickname is in the past.

In Summary

Minnesota is not just the Land of 10,000 Lakes or the North Star State, it's full of unique landmarks, a diverse population, and a rich history, which the various state nicknames highlight. Some of these nicknames may even be new to Minnesotans, helping them learn more about their culture.

Hopefully, this list helped you learn a bit more about Minnesota and its many nicknames. You can share these Minnesota facts with your friends and family members to impress them. It may even motivate you to visit Minnesota yourself if you've never been.

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Written by Rebecca Low

rebeccalow WRITER After travelling around the world and living abroad in Spain and Singapore, freelance writer and editor Rebecca has settled down in her hometown, Toronto, to write about her unique travel experiences.

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