Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Winter diversion: Vote for Minnesota snowplow names January 26, 2023

Graphic credit: MnDOT website

NEWS THAT VOTING has opened for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s “Name a Snowplow” contest came at just the right time—as two clipper systems bring more snow into a state already overwhelmed by snowfall this winter. Voting comes also as the coldest air since mid-December is about to descend, dropping temps to below zero this weekend in most parts of Minnesota.

It’s been quite the winter. So this MnDOT contest is providing a humorous mental respite from the cold and snowy reality of January in Minnesota, with three months of winter to go.

Three years ago MnDOT launched its first snowplow naming competition, inviting the public to submit names for the big orange trucks that clear our state highways of snow and ice. This year 10,000 names were submitted, which have been narrowed down to 60 choices. Online voting is open until midnight, Friday, February 3. The winning names will grace eight snowplows in MnDOT’s eight districts.

I breezed through the names, quickly choosing my top three. Participants can vote for up to eight. I chose Blader Tot Hotdish (a reference to Minnesota’s culinary delight, Tator Tot Hotdish), Orange You Glad to See Me (picked for obvious reasons) and Spirit of ‘91 (a reference to the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, a multi-day blizzard which dumped single storm record snowfalls throughout the state; three feet in Duluth).

Last year’s winners included Ctrl Salt Delete (an obvious tech reference to the salt used to de-ice roadways), Blizzard of Oz (actress Judy Garland, aka Dorothy, born as Frances Gumm in Grand Rapids, MN.) and No More Mr. Ice Guy.

And in the 2020-2021 contest, Plow Bunyan (honoring legendary Minnesota lumberjack Paul Bunyan), F. Salt Fitzgerald (Minnesota-born novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald) and Duck Duck Orange Truck (a reference to Minnesotans’ insistence that the game Duck, Duck, Goose is, indeed, Duck, Duck, Gray Duck) were among the winning names.

I love this diversion from talking solely about the weather, as we Minnesotans are inclined to do, especially in winter.

This contest also puts a positive spotlight on MnDOT, which too often delivers the bad news of road closures, crashes, road construction, impossible driving conditions and more. “Name a Snowplow” is, simply put, genius creative marketing.

FYI: To vote, click here and follow instructions to cast your ballot. I don’t see any rules requiring Minnesota residency to vote.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Winter diversion: Vote for Minnesota snowplow names”

  1. beth Says:

    how fun, I love this! I made my votes and my personal fav was sleetwood Mac. we finally had our first official school snow day yesterday, and I was happy but I’m sure the novelty has worn off for you, with all you’ve had –

  2. How fun! Great idea! I like “Blader Tot”! Good luck! 🙂

  3. Naming contests are oh so FUN! Such great names for snow plows listed in your post – LOVE! My one uncle plowed snow – thought it was a cool profession as a kid. When we moved out west I could not believe the snow plows were white – SERIOUSLY?!? Why???

    From Snow Plows to Flamingos – there is a transition in topic for ya – ha!

    We have a beautiful flamingo art piece at the Tampa Intl Airport and there was a naming contest. Her name is Phoebe.

    Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂 Take Care & Stay Warm!!!

  4. Sandra Says:

    This was a much needed laugh 2 yrs ago. What surprised me was the extent of creativity, never would occur to me. 10,000 entries, followed by an even more amazing, picking finalists. Think there are duplications?
    Some welcome giggles in a winter that’s worn out it’s welcome early.

  5. Valerie Says:

    Fun. I voted. 😉
    In Northfield elementary age kids paint the plow blades. Another fun idea.

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