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Moo moo Subaru: Enthusiastic owners take page from Jeep playbook with rubber cow trend

Jeep owners have some competition, at least when it comes to little rubber mascots: Mooove over Duck, Duck, Jeep. It’s time for Moo Moo Subaru.

That’s part of the message that a growing community of devoted Subaru lovers is spreading on notes they leave, along with little rubber cows, on Subarus all over the country.

Duck, Duck, Jeep has long been a tradition among Jeep owners. Ducks like this one are left on the door handle for the Jeep owner to find with many displaying their prized ducks on the dashboard.
Duck, Duck, Jeep has long been a tradition among Jeep owners. Ducks like this one are left on the door handle for the Jeep owner to find with many displaying their prized ducks on the dashboard.

The idea, like ducking for Jeep owners, where fans leave rubber ducks on Jeeps, is fairly straightforward: See a Subaru you like and let the owner know by leaving a little rubber cow and a note referencing the Facebook group, Moo Moo Subaru, on the hood or in a bag on the door handle or windshield wiper.

It’s called getting mooed and, like its Jeep predecessor, it’s become something of a mooovement, with Subaru owners sharing ideas and stories about their experiences on social media and highlighting more products, like decals and stuffed bovines, that can, as the Subaru campaign goes, help “share the love.”

Members of the Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group like to place small rubber cows along with a note on Subarus they like.
Members of the Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group like to place small rubber cows along with a note on Subarus they like.

The Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group launched in June and has grown to more than 36,000 members as of Tuesday. A few other similarly dedicated Facebook groups have also popped up since Moo Moo Subaru launched. Most of the small rubber cows get ordered through Amazon, according to members of Moo Moo Subaru.

"You never know when someone's having a bad day and they come out and see a little plastic cow on their car and it just makes them forget about the bad day they've had and they just want to pass on the positivity and the kindness to the next person," said Staci Huckins, 48 of Troy, New Hampshire, one of Moo Moo Subaru's two Facebook group administrators.

Staci Huckins of Troy, N.H., stands with her Subaru Crosstrek, which she calls Bella. Huckins started the Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group after a conversation with her friend, Crystal Hamann, about Jeep ducking.
Staci Huckins of Troy, N.H., stands with her Subaru Crosstrek, which she calls Bella. Huckins started the Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group after a conversation with her friend, Crystal Hamann, about Jeep ducking.

While U.S. car customers might be more familiar with the Jeep name, the Japanese Subaru has been steadily gaining ground on Stellantis' major SUV brand in the United States. Through the third quarter of this year, Jeep sales were at 490,106, a 9% drop compared to the same period in 2022, while Subaru managed sales of 467,223, a 16.5% increase over the same period a year prior, according to U.S. sales figures from both, covering all models.

How moo moo came to be be

The Facebook group and the resulting moo moo movement began with a conversation between Huckins and a friend, according to both women. They live in different parts of New Hampshire and work for the same propane company as customer service representatives.

Huckins was asking her friend, Crystal Hamann, 39, of Rochester, New Hampshire, about ducking. Huckins drives a Subaru Crosstrek and Hamann drives a Jeep Wrangler, the most popular Jeep model to duck. Hamann’s very involved in ducking Jeeps she likes.

From left, Crystal Hamann and Staci Huckins with Huckins' son and granddaughter, Codi and Liliana Poisson. Huckins started the Moo Moo Facebook group following a conversation with Hamann.
From left, Crystal Hamann and Staci Huckins with Huckins' son and granddaughter, Codi and Liliana Poisson. Huckins started the Moo Moo Facebook group following a conversation with Hamann.

“I jokingly told her that I didn't think it was fair and that I was going to start ducking Subarus because Subarus are clearly better than Jeeps, and we deserve something too. And she told me that wasn't allowed. So being the sarcastic person I am, I said, ‘All right, I'll find something else,’ and ended up coming up with cows,” Huckins told the Free Press, noting that moo happens to rhyme with Subaru.

Huckins also learned something else as she considered what to use instead of ducks, that the Subaru logo, with stars on a blue background, actually represents a part of the Taurus constellation, according to Subaru. Seeing the connection to the astrological bull, she chose the cow.

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I moo, you moo, we all moo for Subaru

In no time, the Facebook group exploded in popularity.

“The cows have just taken off. People love just throwing them out there and just spreading the love essentially. Staci calls it a mooovement,” Hamann said. “Our goal was just to create something that would just make somebody smile and share the happiness. … So far it seems to be working and that’s what we’ve accomplished and we just kind of want it to keep going.”

Hamann is pleased with the results, but she has no intention of giving up her Jeep, which she uses for off-roading, in favor of a Subaru. She said her daughter would disown her if she drives anything else.

Huckins, however, is all about her 2015 Crosstrek, a charcoal gray number she calls Bella.

"They’re safe, and they can be driven pretty much forever,” Huckins said, noting that Bella is her sixth Subaru.

Dominick Infante, a spokesman for Subaru of America, said the company is aware of the Facebook group but isn't an active participant from the brand level.

"We do think it is great. It is a great example of the passion of our owners. Moo Moo Subaru is an organic, owner-driven initiative that helps to enhance the already strong sense of community that exists among Subaru enthusiasts," Infante said in an email to the Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Shelly Baldwin, along with her late pet, Black Jack, with one of the Subaru Outbacks she's owned. Baldwin is a big Subaru fan and is a member of Moo Moo Subaru.
Shelly Baldwin, along with her late pet, Black Jack, with one of the Subaru Outbacks she's owned. Baldwin is a big Subaru fan and is a member of Moo Moo Subaru.

Shelly Baldwin, who lives in the Coldwater, Michigan, area, a couple of hours drive southwest of Detroit, owns a 2019 Outback she calls her Hot Wheels car because of the flame decals added to the side. This marks her fourth Subaru, all Outbacks. The Outback, she said, is the perfect size vehicle to haul her golf clubs.

Baldwin joined the Facebook group about a month ago and just recently started mooing people, placing a couple of the little cows on Subarus in Battle Creek and one at a private club where she’s a member. Subaru and Jeep owners follow a similar playbook in terms of leaving the little rubber animals on vehicle hoods or door handles.

Shelly Baldwin of Coldwater, Mich., says her Subaru Outback is her "Hot Wheels car."
Shelly Baldwin of Coldwater, Mich., says her Subaru Outback is her "Hot Wheels car."

It was exciting, but Baldwin said it made her a bit nervous, too, putting something on someone’s car when that person isn’t expecting it. She’s not done, however. She bought about two dozen cows, including some miniatures, through Amazon, for about $15 or $20.

“I thought it was so much fun,” she said, noting that she hopes it gives someone a chuckle and maybe “a bright spot in their day.”

Pamela Pitlanish, 68, is a recent convert to the Subaru tribe and moved a few weeks ago from Flint to Clinton Township, Michigan, to be near her grandkids. She downsized in June from a diesel Ford F-350 truck to a 2021 Crosstrek.

Pamela Pitlanish of Clinton Township with her 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and her dog Deebo at her home on Tuesday. Pitlanish is a member of the Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group. The group has members who love their Subarus and place small rubber cows on Subarus that they see out in public. It’s something similar that Jeep owners do with rubber duckies that can often be seen on the dashboards of their Jeeps. Pitlanish does a cow keychain that she puts around the driver-side door handles of various Subarus.

Pitlanish didn't know about the Facebook group when she got her car, but now she's a member and she's given out a couple of cows, leaving them hooked on door handles or a wiper. There's some controversy in the group, she said, from folks concerned about touching someone else's vehicle, but Pitlanish reasoned that this is Michigan, where road salt is "eating up" people's cars.

Pamela Pitlanish of Clinton Township, Mich., places on Subaru's that she sees out in public keychains like these that she has on Tuesday. Pitlanish, who is the owner of a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is also a member of the Moo Moo Subaru Facebook group who also love their Subarus and do a similar thing. Jeep owners started this trend but with rubber duckies that can often be seen on the dashboards of their Jeeps.

Although her time in the Subaru camp only dates back to June, Pitlanish's fascination with cows is decades old. During the test drive in the Crosstrek, she said a friend asked what she planned to name the car, and she replied, "SubaMoo" These days, the Crosstrek even sports a big cow decal on the back window.

"It's a sure fit," she said of the car.

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: elawrence@freepress.com. Become a subscriber.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Moo Moo Subaru cows find enthusiastic following but no ducking allowed