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Culture

In Defense of ‘Whippin’ Shitties’

A coastal elite recently besmirched our proud regionalism.

A high-end example of shitties being whipped.
YouTube

Far too much lip service gets paid to how “duck, duck, grey duck” is a terminological peculiarity unique to Minnesotans. It’s boring. Stop.

Much more interesting is “whippin’ shitties,” a term Minnesotans use to describe what the rest of the country has deemed “doing doughnuts”—spinning a car in tight circles, often with bored and/or buzzed townies behind the wheel, while kicking up smoke and leaving tread marks. The activity can also take place on frozen lakes.

Turns out plenty of internet discourse has been devoted to our linguistic quirk. Dozens of commenters in this old Reddit thread confirm that, here in Minnesota, we say whippin’ shitties. Some believe that’s also true of the entire Upper Midwest and Canada, though this survey of 10,000 (!) respondents resulted in a tight whippin’ shitties cluster mostly isolated to Minnesota. Additional research turned up this less scientific map:

Anyway, great term! Pleasant to the ear, whole lotta fun to say. Uniquely ours.

But not everyone agrees.

On Wednesday, an out-out-touch denizen of New York City’s gilded media class dared question our state’s term/general way of life:

“They can play Duck Duck Grey Duck in the detention camps,” he added as a sneering coda.

Respondents viewed the phrase much more favorably.

“‘Whipping shitties’ is an objectively cooler phrase that just about anything else imaginable, I don’t see the issue here,” one wrote.

“Yeah sorry we have a cooler name,” added another.

“Minnesota owns, Barry,” one concluded.

While I also disagreed with Petchesky’s whippin’ shitties skepticism, I questioned whether it was worth going to petty blog war over. After all, his Defector crew was hugely helpful in laying the foundation for Racket. We share a publisher. Personally, I’ve been a big fan of his writing since the Deadspin days. But, as Racket’s only Minnesota-born editor, it’s my birthright to be kneejerk defensive and pedantic about all things unique to our state. This matter is too Grape Salad-adjacent to let stand. So I cornered Petchesky in his DMs, demanding acquiescence:

“In my opinion,” I wrote, teeth-gritted, “the term’s a whole lotta fun to say and hear.”

Moments later, his response:

“Ha! I will admit under duress that whipping shitties is objectively a superior term, just as Duck, Duck, Grey Duck is a superior game,” he wrote, securing our sad little victory in record time. “But I am just concerned that a single state has so many bizarre regionalisms. That’s more power than any one state should have.”

Hm… not on board with that last part, but we’ll but accept his de facto apology. Seeking to pile on, I contacted Defector’s resident Minnesotan, the great Drew Magary. Would he provide a whippin’ shitties take? “Lol sure.” We’ll update the post as soon as we hear back. (Update: Drew’s on board, stating, “I’d never heard the term before but it sounds cool!”)

In the meantime, be proud of our many regionalisms—you betcha, ope, and the rest. Minnesota might be the 22nd most populous state, but those 5.7 million residents rank first when it comes to overreacting to perceived slights by outsiders. God bless ’em.