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What the duck? People are leaving the rubber birds on Jeeps

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

OK, how would you react if you found a rubber duck on the hood of your vehicle? Now, for Jeep owners, it's part of a trend that's spreading around the world.

ROZ DIEFENBACH: I would say I duck people as often as I get the chance to.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Roz Diefenbach (ph) is the proud owner of a blue Jeep Wrangler named Joan. So Roz is the person; Joan is the Jeep, just to keep things clear. And Roz - I assume Joan also - fully embraces this trend known as ducking.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, it's the practice of putting a rubber duck on any Jeep that you see. Now, such fads aren't anything new for Jeep owners. You might have heard of the Jeep wave. That's Jeep drivers waving at each other. But now ducking apparently is the biggest trend.

INSKEEP: A Jeep spokesperson says in an email, the company had nothing to do with this. It's a grassroots movement started by Allison Parliament. Her full-time job now is running the official ducking Instagram and promoting ducking at Jeep events, which usually happen in the summer.

ALLISON PARLIAMENT: We autograph ducks for our Jeepers and we raise money for educators. So we do good with what we've created.

MARTÍNEZ: I'd call it a webbed-feet movement. A Facebook group dedicated to the practice has well over 50,000 members, and the #duckduckjeep has been used hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook and Instagram. Heidi Nappenberger (ph) says the convenience store where she works is often a pit stop for Jeep owners heading to the Virginia mountains. And when they come through, they stock up on snacks and, of course, you guessed it, rubber ducks, which she sells for 3.50 apiece.

HEIDI NAPPENBERGER: It has been, in the past few years, that all of a sudden people are wanting the ducks, and the ducks sell really well. We have some pretty good custom ducks at the store, too. They're one in, like, bikinis. There's military ones that sell really well around here.

INSKEEP: Nappenberger, the owner of a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler, has been ducked a few times herself. And she keeps every duck she gets in her glove compartment because they feel too special to give away.

NAPPENBERGER: Generally, it feels like a compliment, like someone saw the Jeep and admired it. So I kind of hang on to it as a trophy.

MARTÍNEZ: Roz Diefenbach says getting a duck always adds a little spark to the day.

DIEFENBACH: And I think it's a really fun part of the community.

INSKEEP: So if you own a Jeep and someone should put a toy on it, hopefully you don't give a duck. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.