‘Abolish ICE’ was a top submission in Minnesota’s snowplow naming contest

By: - February 19, 2021 1:29 pm

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials this week announced the finalists in a public competition to name eight snowplows throughout the state, but one of the most frequently submitted names — “Abolish ICE” — won’t be allowed to proceed to the final round.

In December, MnDOT asked Minnesotans to submit “creative, witty, punny and fun ideas for snowplow names.” They collected submissions until late January, and MnDOT received about 23,000 entries.

“We’ve narrowed the list down to 50 finalists, and now it’s your turn to vote for your favorites,” MnDOT posted online this week.

Minnesota Reformer filed a public records request for all the submissions, and then normalized the data to account for differences in excess spacing and capitalization. With over 300 votes, the second most popular submission was Abolish ICE, a commonly heard slogan for shutting down the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, though it could also be read as a call to eliminate frozen water.

Minneapolis software engineer Kanad Gupta was one of those who submitted an entry for the name, and his December tweet sharing the idea garnered over 1,000 retweets. “[ICE] seeks to deport and criminalize undocumented people in ways that grossly violate their human rights,” he said in an interview Friday.

Gupta said he submitted the name in jest, and had no expectation the name would ever make the cut into the list of finalists, but “it would have been a really cool way for MnDOT to show solidarity with their undocumented residents,” he said.

“It was meant to be a fun and lighthearted contest, not a politically controversial thing,” said Jake Loesch, MnDOT’s spokesman. “There’s obviously undertones to a phrase like that, so we decided it wasn’t one we were going to put forward to a final list.”

The state also disregarded snowplow naming ideas based on political figures – Amy Snowbuchar, Tim Plowlenty, Walter Plowdale, Plow Wellstone, and George W. Push, to name just a few.

MnDOT said Plowy McPlowFace received the most votes, especially after combining similar-sounding names like Snowy McSnowface, Plowey McPlowerson, Snowy McPlowface, and Plowie McPlowface.

“We considered all of the “[blank] Mc[blank]face” submissions as similar and decided to use Plowy McPlowFace as one of the finalists,” Loesch said.

Several names of Minnesota Twins baseball players made the list of finalists, and Loesch said MnDOT checked with the team to make sure it would be okay to use their names.

“I have come to realize that if there’s one way you want to universally disappoint people it’s to offer them the chance to submit a name and then not include it as a finalist,” Loesch said.

“I do think it is a gross injustice that ‘Oh Snow You Didn’t!’ made the cut,” Gupta jokingly said, calling the name terrible. “I think I’m team ‘Plowy McPlowFace’ now.”

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Tony Webster
Tony Webster

Tony Webster is a journalist and photographer. He won the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists 2017 Peter S. Popovich Award for his freedom-of-information advocacy.