One distinct cultural difference between Minnesota and New England has to do with bragging, boasting, tooting your own horn; we don't do it. Bragging is to Minnesotans what kryptonite is to Superman. It will destroy you. Or so we're taught. That's why we leave it to our grandmas; because bragging about other people is ok. But then you're obligated to deny that it's true ("Grandma, that's not true. I just got lucky at that piano recital, that's all.").
Bragging to east coasters is.........well, it's just talking. It's the way many people communicate, men in particular. If you know my husband at all, you know he doesn't play this game. If you see a group of men standing around talking, but there's one who's just standing there, not talking - that would be my husband. The game involves telling a story about oneself, and while one is talking, the rest of the people aren't listening to you but waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell a story about themselves that is better than the one you are telling. And when it's Mike's turn to contribute, he just slowly backs out of the circle and then turns around and runs into the woods. He just can't do it. He could be the King of England and I wouldn't even know.
Establishments can brag, too, by claiming to the "the best!" There is a drive for restaurants, stores, gas stations and dry cleaners to proclaim themselves "the best!" according to some implied poll or survey. Sometimes the source is noted:
Sometimes the implication comes from some vague phraseology like "Voted best something!" Which always leaves me thinking "by whom?" And "Where do I get a ballot? I didn't get a ballot."
And sometimes they just claim it with no supporting evidence at all:
According to whom? You can't just claim that because you want to.......that's not how it works. You have to have a source. Remember freshman English? You have to site your sources!
And more often than not, you'll have multiple establishments all claiming to be "the best!" A large majority of lobster-purveying restaurants have a sign that says "Best Lobster Roll in New England!" Mathematically, this is not possible. You can't all be the best. Only one gets to be the best. The rest of you can be "one of the best!" But they ALL claim to have the best lobster roll. Which leads me to believe that someone is LYING!
Allow me to explain my concern about this phenomenon: I don't know if you know this but Minnesota continually ranks as one of the most honest places in the world (along with Sweden, Finland and Utah). We don't even fib. ( I recognize the irony here in that it appears that I'm claiming that Minnesota is "the best!" but, I swear, I'm not doing that! It's actually "the least." As in we are among the least dishonest people in the world. Whew! That was dangerously close to bragging.).
And I'm not just talking about infidelity and insider trading..........it's much more pervasive than that. If we say that we can come over to your house for a beer after soccer, then we'll be drinking beer at your house after soccer. If we don't, or if we back out at the last minute, it's like we LIED! This is why it can be difficult to get us to commit to weekend plans........because if we say "yeah, that sounds great!" that means "yes, we will definitely do that" and if we don't do that, then that means we told a LIE! And that is wrong.
So when all these places are claiming to be "the best!," I know that someone is not only bragging, but also LYING! Heavens to Betsy!
But people here don't see it that way.
The drive to declare oneself the best is so strong that it drives even niche establishments with no nearby competitors to claim best-hood. They just want to get in the game so badly!
Voted best hearth shoppe? Are there any other hearth shoppes in the area? I don't think there are.
And just 3 days after opening, this BBQ restaurant claimed this......
Already? How do you know that? What are the criteria? Did someone come in on your first day and say "Mmmmm. This is the best BBQ!" And then you said "Really?! Already?!" and then you ran out and put it on the sign? Is that all it takes? Because if that's true, then I have the best moonwalk. Among alive people, that is. I'll give it to Michael Jackson if we include non-alive people.
Sometimes the drive to declare your ranking is so strong that you don't stop to consider that the ranking isn't actually that impressive. My absolute favorite claim in the whole New England ranking/besting phenomenon belongs to the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts.........
........but at least they didn't lie.