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A 26-Letter Tour of Your New Home State


Published August 26, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.
Updated August 26, 2015 at 11:24 a.m.


Don't know a lake monster from a Vermonster?

Think a woodchuck is the same as a groundhog? Jeezum Crow, you're such a flatlander!

There's clearly a lot you need to learn about living here. We've compiled this cheat sheet to help you nail the Vermont vernacular. Study up, and you'll pass for a local in no time.

Anti-Billboard Law: Vermont is known for its natural beauty — and that's partly cuz there are no billboards blocking the view. They've been banned here since 1968.

Bernie: Vermonters are on a first-name basis with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the crazy-haired, self-proclaimed socialist who's running for president in 2016.

Creemee: This is Vermont-speak for soft-serve ice cream. Try the maple flavor.

de Champlain, Samuel: In 1609, this French explorer "discovered" what we now call Lake Champlain. There's a statue of him in the Champlain College quad.

Eleven Stories: That's the number of floors in Burlington's Decker Towers apartment complex. At 124 feet, it's the tallest building in Vermont — and the shortest tallest building across all U.S. states.

Flatlander: Generally an insult, this nickname is for anyone who wasn't born in Vermont — and it applies even if that person is from the mountains of Colorado or has lived here for decades.

Gay Marriage: Vermont was the first state to introduce civil unions, in 2000, and the fifth to legalize same-sex marriage. Here and queer? We're cool with it.

Heady Topper: This double IPA, made by the Alchemist brewery in Waterbury, has been ranked the No. 1 beer in the world. If you're a hophead, you've gotta try it — when you're 21, of course.

Islands: There's nothing tropical about Vermont's islands, but Lake Champlain has dozens of them — five of which you can actually drive to via Exit 17. Island getaway, anyone? Flip to page 47 for road-trip inspiration.

Jeezum Crow: Nope, it's not the state bird. It's actually a G-rated way to say "Jesus Christ" in rural Vermont.

Kale: This leafy superfood is the star of Bo Muller-Moore's popular "Eat More Kale" T-shirts and bumper stickers. The Montpelier artist beat out big, bad Chick-fil-A when the chain claimed his phrase was too similar to its "Eat Mor Chikin" slogan.

Lake Monster: Over the centuries, hundreds of people have reported spotting a dinosaur-like creature in Lake Champlain. Hoax or not, the legend is so well known that "Champ" is the mascot of Vermont's minor-league baseball team, the Lake Monsters, as well as the namesake of a radio station and a couple of car washes.

McDonald's: Craving an Egg McMuffin? Don't bother looking for the golden arches in Burlington. Even Montpelier, the state capital, doesn't have a Mickey D's. Instead, try Handy's Lunch and its famous McHandy, or Kountry Kart Deli, home of the Rise & Shiner (see page 16).

Negative 50°F: That's the coldest temp ever recorded in Vermont. Be glad you weren't here on December 30, 1933. Last winter, Burlington never dipped below a comparatively balmy -19.

Onion City: Along with "Burlington's Brooklyn" and "the 'Noosk," this is a nickname for Winooski, a small city across the river from BTV. Its name, of Native American origin, means "wild onion."

Phish: True Phish heads already know that this phreakin' awesome jam band was formed at the University of Vermont in the '80s.

Queen City: This nickname for Burlington has nothing to do with drag queens — although we're proud of the few we have here. It's actually a common term given to large port cities that dominate a state's economy.

Rise & Shiner: The infamous hangover/munchies sandwich satisfies 20 hours a day at Kountry Kart Deli on Main Street in Burlington. The Rise & Shiner is best with bacon, hash browns, egg and cheese.

Subaru: The Japanese-made hatchback is Vermont's unofficial state car. Pretty much everyone has one, because the all-wheel drive provides crucial traction in mud and snow. It also guzzles less gas than most SUVs. And there's plenty of room in the back for your skis and other outdoor crap.

Town Meeting Day: The Boston Globe recently called this state holiday, held on the first Tuesday in March since 1762, "a big 'ol heap of democracy." State offices and schools close so citizens can debate and vote on local issues.

UVM Naked Bike Ride: On the last day of each semester, UVMers flash their birthday suits on a midnight bike ride — or run, depending on the conditions — across campus. Grin and bare it!

Vermonster: Every year, some idiotic freshman orders this insane, 20-scoop sundae from Ben & Jerry's — and proceeds to barf it up all the way back to campus. Don't let that be you.

Woodchuck: This is the opposite of a flatlander (see page 13). It's slang for a proud native of rural Vermont.

X-Rated: Whether it's out of curiosity or kink, every college student eventually makes a pilgrimage to Good Stuff, an adult store on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace. From porn to sex toys, the stock is X-rated, so you have to be 18 to go in.

Yarn Bombing: This is like graffiti, if you replace the spray-paint with, um, knitting. Burlington's renegade street artists have yarn bombed everything from public sculptures to tree trunks.

Zebra Mussels: Watch out for this invasive species in Lake Champlain — these sharp-edged mussels can slice up your bare feet. Also in the water: toxic algae blooms and manure runoff from farms. Sweet.