If you believe everything you read, you might think the average Twin Cities resident is an environmentalist gay hipster riding her bike to the theater every night with a significant other of another race.
In recent years, all of these attributes have been reported in studies, surveys and magazine articles that have named the Twin Cities the top this, Minnesota No. 1 for that or Minneapolis as having the most x-y-z per capita.
In many cases difficult to prove, these prolific rankings and top 10 ratings raise the question: Do they matter?
Heather LaMarre, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota, said they do -- particularly for local colleges or Fortune 500 companies such as Target, which use them as tools for recruitment.
For the average resident, the titles make for great water-cooler conversations and pump up civic pride.
"It improves and lifts the collective psyche," said LaMarre, whose area of expertise is public opinion.
It doesn't even matter whether the claims can be proven or contradict each other. They'll still be effective, she said.If your psyche needs lifting, take our quiz. See if you can spot which rankings were snagged by the city, region or state in recent years.
Which accolades describe us? Choose A or B (answers at bottom).
A Minnesota as the most hipster state
B Minneapolis as the city with most sports championships
A The Twin Cities as having the friendliest people
B Minneapolis as a top city for interracial dating
A Minneapolis as the worst city for smoking problems
B Minneapolis as the gayest city
A Minneapolis as the fittest and healthiest city
B Minneapolis as the highest per-capita consumer of lutefisk
A Twin Cities as the most TV-watching metro area
B Twin Cities as most literate city
1: A. Big surprise, but Minneapolis is not, in fact, known for its sports championships (for the record, New York took that title, according to the U.S. News and World Report). But according to BuzzFeed, a website that tracks search volume and viral Internet content, the most searches for anything "hipster" -- such as "thrifty hipster" or "hipster girl" -- came from Minnesota. (We beat out New York for that one.)
2: B. Interrace magazine consistently ranks Minneapolis in the top 10 cities for interracial couples. And we're friendly, too, although not the friendliest (so much for "Minnesota Nice"). Travel and Leisure named the Twin Cities fifth for friendliness in the country in 2009. They also gave us best airport.
3: B. That was an easy one, given the amount of publicity surrounding The Advocate's decision to knock San Francisco off its gay pedestal. Minneapolis did not appear on U.S. News' 2011 list of the 30 cities with smoking problems, but some Midwestern metros did, including Indianapolis (No. 4) and Grand Rapids, Mich. (No. 9).
4: A. The biggest lutefisk fans actually are in Minnesota, not in Scandinavia, but the Lac qui Parle County seat of Madison took that title, according to a 2001 book by Eric Dregni. Minneapolis is the fittest and healthiest city, though -- not too shabby -- as determined by the American College of Sports and Medicine in 2011.
5: B (kind of). This one's a bit of a trick question. Minneapolis tied for third most literate city in 2009 and 2010, but took the top spot in 2007 and 2008, according to an annual study conducted by Central Connecticut State University. The Twin Cities didn't make the list for most TV-watching in a 2009 study. Memphis topped that one, according to the Nielsen Co.
FOR EXTRA FUN: WHAT ELSE ARE WE KNOWN FOR?
Stress-free: The Twin Cities is the most relaxed metro area, according to a 2010 Forbes study based on stress factors, length of commutes, unemployment rates, average time spent at work, access to health care and residents' personal ratings of their health.
Take a seat: One you've probably heard, the Twin Cities has the most theater seats per capita after New York, according to the Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association.
Two wheels: Minneapolis has the most bike parking and the second-most bike paths in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Bicycling magazine named it the nation's most bike-friendly city last year.
Green or not: Of course, statistics often find themselves in contradiction: A London-based research group named Minneapolis the sixth-most eco-friendly city in the world, while the Institute for Environment and Development included Minneapolis in an informal list of the most polluting cities worldwide.
Jessica Bakeman • 612-673-4401