The Real Story Behind Wisconsin’s Nicknames

Perhaps you’ve heard some of Wisconsin’s nicknames and wondered where they came from.  Well, we’ve got the real scoop on why we’re called “the Badger State” and how Green Bay became known as “Titletown USA.” 

The Badger State

Some people may think this was an obvious pick since the badger was designated the official state animal in 1957. However, the moniker was actually inspired much earlier when miners settling in Wisconsin in the 1800s would dig hillside tunnels searching for lead, therefore reminding people of the burrowing animal.

Want to learn more? Take a guided tour of a 1845 lead mine at the Mining Museum in Platteville or a hand-dug 1827 mine at the Badger Mine & Museum in Shullsburg.

Home of the Hodag – Rhinelander

Back in 1893 a well-known Wisconsin land surveyor and prankster spurred the legend of the Hodag in Rhinelander. Reported to have “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end," a photograph was staged to show a group of locals capturing the beast. The story got a lot of attention and the truth wasn’t exposed until scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. planned to pay the remains of this mythical creature a visit. The hoax was admitted, but that doesn’t stop Rhinelander from celebrating the lore of this creature through school mascots, festivals and local artwork, even today.

Want to learn more? Head to Rhinelander for the Hodag Country Music Festival – July 10, 2014 - July 13, 2014.

Cream City – Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s historic areas still contain buildings constructed with the famous “cream city” cream colored bricks that were developed in the Menomonee Valley in the mid-19th century. At the peak of production, Milwaukee produced 15 million of these bricks a year. And today, those seeking to mix old with new construction covet properties with this exposed brick on the interior and exterior.

Want to learn more? Enjoy a guided walking tour through the Historic Third Ward or along the famous Brady Street where homes, churches and other structures are built from the beautiful cream-colored bricks.

Titletown – Green Bay

It’s no surprise that Green Bay’s nickname was inspired by the record 13 NFL championship titles that the Packers have won, which includes four Super Bowl wins (1967, 1968, 1997 and 2011). This nickname has become official through its incorporation into the city seal and signs for many local businesses.

Want to learn more? Take a tour of Lambeau Field to get a real Green Bay Packers fan experience.

Brew City – Milwaukee

Brew City has long served as an affectionate slang term for Milwaukee, which at one point was home to four of the largest breweries in the nation: Miller, Pabst, Blatz and Schlitz. While brewing only represents a percentage of the city’s current economy, the term is still as popular as it once was.

Want to learn more? Take a tour of the Pabst Brewery or venture to the Miller Valley and enjoy a tour of the country’s second largest brewer – MillerCoor’s Brewing Company.

Wisconsin is also credited with an array of lesser-known, quirky honors, including the title of:

UFO Capital of the WorldCampbellsport
Home of the HamburgerSeymour
Supper Club Capital of the MidwestCalumet County
Birthplace of the Ice Cream SundaeTwo Rivers
Snowmobile Capital of the WorldEagle River

Hey, the more you know, right?