Jeep owners are flocking to buy rubber ducks and share them with other Jeepers.
There hasn’t been a game like it since Duck, Duck, Goose. Only now the “geese” are much bigger, and the players are all over the world.
Called Duck, Duck, Jeep or Jeep ducking, Jeep owners are leaving rubber ducks of all shapes, sizes and colors on the door handles of fellow Jeepers, tagged with a note or a name. Reasons for ducking are as varied as the Jeeps themselves, from liking the color or modifications to a car to knowing the owner, having an extra duck or just hoping to brighten someone’s day. Duck recipients are encouraged to take photos of their new little friends and post them online (check out the #JeepDucking tag on Instagram.)
Here a Duck, There a Duck
Even Jeep has duck fever. The car company’s guest of honor at the 2020 North American International Auto Show in Detroit was the world’s biggest rubber duck, rising six stories high and weighing in at almost 9,000 pounds. Jeep gave out prizes to people who posted their pictures with the duck online.
Did you ever wonder how Jeeps and other cars got their names? When it comes to Jeeps, the answers vary.
Call them quackers, but many Jeep owners are ducking devotees.
“I don’t know how much money I’ve spent on those darn ducks, but we just love it,” said Shawnna Sanborn of Texas, executive director of Jeep Girl Mafia, a nationwide organization for female Jeep owners with about 26,000 members.
Sanborn is the proud owner of a 16-inch duck she bought at an auction. Stars of her collection include a Chuckie duck for Halloween and a Grinch duck. She keeps a tote full of ducks in her Jeep so she’s ready to duck at any moment.
“I look in my tote, and if I see one that goes with a Jeep, I pull it out,” she said. “People get a kick out of it.”
Many Jeep owners have “duck tags” to attach to their gifts, on which they write club or Jeep names or messages. Some decorate the ducks, others pass them around and some keep a flock on their dashboards in an area known as a duck pond.
Check out a guide for Jeep ducking.
The woman behind the ducking Jeeps is Canadian Allison Parliament. Feeling discouraged after an encounter with an irate stranger one day in 2020, she bought a bag of rubber ducks and put one with a cheery note on a Jeep. Her gesture spread online and soon ducks were flying off shelves and onto Jeeps.
Jeep owner Toni Lamen, who lives in Florida but is formerly of Binghamton, N.Y., said she keeps ducks in her Jeep and likes to check out other peoples’ collections. If she has a color they don’t have, she drops it on the car.
While not everyone likes to duck, they still appreciate the enjoyment it brings others.
“Whether you are into the Jeep ducking scene or not, it still brings a smile to someone’s face,” said Lowell Eckart, co-founder of JeepNation, a national Jeep club. “I like seeing people when they get their first duck.”
Chuck Harris, a JeepNation partner, recalled that when ducking first started, he and his wife were not that caught up in it, even as others received ducks. Then one day at a Jeep show, he saw something on his Jeep’s door handle, and knew they’d been ducked.
“When we got our first one, it was like the best thing ever,” Harris said.
For Sanborn, her Jeep and ducking helped open a whole community to her after she moved from California to Texas.
“I was a little nervous at first, but now I get excited when I see someone about to duck,” Sanborn said. “My 11-year-old niece is doing it, too. I wanted to make someone else smile.”
And smile they do. “They are cool to look at,” Lamen said. “Once I had a bad day and I came out and there was a duck on my Jeep. It brought a smile to my face.”
Don’t Have a Duck? Wave!
The Jeep Wave also is part of Jeep culture and has been around for at least 50 years. It may have evolved when off-roading became popular and to show kinship with other Jeep owners. Jeepers wave to build community and show their mutual love of Jeeps. The Wave consists of raising two or four fingers from the steering wheel and nodding or just a basic wave. Traditionalists follow a waving hierarchy, which says in part that the “inferior” Jeep—the one with fewer accessories—waves first, and a newer Jeep does homage to elders by waving first and furiously.
Jeepers are not the only ones on the road with greetings. Motorcyclists salute their fellow riders by dropping their left hands down and extending two fingers, like an upside-down peace sign.
If you own a Jeep, are you Jeep ducking? What is a favorite duck that you received? Tell us in the comments.
Featured image: Shawnee Sanborn’s jeep ducks in action. Sanborn is the executive director of Jeep Girl Mafia, a nationwide organization for female Jeep owners.
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