“Duck duck goose?” “Duck duck grey duck?” Whatever side of that debate you support, turns out, you’re wrong. It’s really “duck duck Jeep.”
Jeep drivers are no strangers to car culture phenomena. For decades, the Jeep Wave has been a well-established tradition; when one Jeep encounters another on the road (or better yet, off of it), both drivers should wave at each other. It’s something Jeepers take seriously. Failing to wave or worse, to return a wave given you, is a faux-pas difficult to forgive, especially amongst the more old-school Jeep crowd. The wave has become so popular, Jeep decided to name their loyalty program, The Jeep Wave Program. But the new Jeep Ducking craze shows all the signs of becoming just as ubiquitous a tradition as the famous Wave.
Do a Google search for “duck duck Jeep,” and you’ll get more than 20 million results. The phrase and the movement behind it is a growing cultural phenomenon. But what exactly is it, and how did it begin? It all started, as such things often do, from a random event. A single impulsive act that, in the best traditions of the modern internet, exploded worldwide seemingly overnight.
Jeep Ducking has become so popular, it grabbed the attention of Car Talk in no time at all. Funny enough, the Managing Editor of Car Talk was ducked while on a hike within a few months of the start of the phenomenon. So of course, we HAD to reach out to creator of Jeep Ducking to find out what this is all about, straight from the source.
Allison Parliament didn’t set out to become an internationally known Jeep celebrity. But that’s exactly what happened after a terrible road trip from the southern United States to her native Canada. A dual citizen of both Canada and the United States, Allison decided to travel from her home in Clanton, Alabama to visit family and friends in Ontario last June.
She never expected the welcome she got when she stopped for gas in a small Canadian town. As she was getting ready to fuel her pride and joy, a 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara she’d just bought, she suddenly found herself in the middle of an angry encounter.
“A guy approached, told me I was a dirty American spreading Covid and just wanted to hurt people,” Allison said. The man even shoved her into her Jeep. “It scared the crap out of me.”
Allison quickly decided to get gas elsewhere and left town as fast as she could. She called a friend. “Is this what it’s gonna be like all the way home?” Arriving at her destination, she found herself so upset, she didn’t even want to leave the house. But her friend eventually convinced her to keep going, heading farther north to her family’s home. For a parting gift to her supportive friend, she popped into a local shop and bought a bag of rubber ducks to hide around his house as a joke before she left.
That seemingly random sequence of events led directly to a worldwide cultural phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. As Allison left the store, she noticed a Jeep in the parking lot. On a lark, she wrote “nice jeep” on one of the ducks, and put it on the stranger’s vehicle. The owner noticed.
“(He) came out and laughed. Said, ‘You need to put this on social media.’” So she did. “We figured it would go around town, make a few people happy, and then die out,” Allison said. Not even close. Almost overnight, her spur-of-the-moment gag skyrocketed. Within just a couple of weeks, Allison had 10,000 followers on Facebook.
Suddenly, Jeep ducking was everywhere. Little rubber ducks started popping up on Wranglers, Liberties, and Cherokees in Canada, the US, and Mexico. Then Allison saw a photo of a Jeep duck in Germany. Another in Japan. In under a year, the Duck Duck Jeep game had spread to 30 countries.
Now, the group is quickly closing in on 50,000 people, and it’s adding more by the minute. More than 800 joined in a week. Jeep itself even took notice. The release announcement for the company’s new Wrangler Rubicon included a hashtag highlighting Jeep Ducking.
Before Allison knew it, the Jeep ducks were everywhere. Photos poured into her Instagram and Facebook pages. Other people’s Jeeps. Her Jeep. Ducks on hoods. Ducks on door handles…
Like a cheerful, alternate universe version of Hitchcock’s The Birds, little rubber ducks invaded the world. They started mutating. From regular yellow ducks to a rainbow of rubber duck colors.
Ducking Jeeps was a game with seemingly boundless variety. It even started spreading beyond Jeeps. Subarus got ducked. Classic cars got ducked. “We don’t cap it off at just Jeep,” said Allison. “Everybody needs kindness and I think the last year has shown that we need more kindness than normal.”
It wasn’t long before Allison started getting recognized. Total strangers knew her on sight. They’d stop her in the street for a chance to meet her. Her favorite encounter came when she was having a terrible day. “Worst day I’d had in a long time,” she said. “I was actually crying in my Jeep.” Then a woman approached, with a rubber duck.
“It was actually her ducking me! This lady comes over and is about to put the duck on my Jeep, and she looked at me and she knew who I was! And she said, ‘Oh my God, you’re her!’”
Requests rolled in - eventually 1,000 a week - asking for signed rubber ducks. She can’t possibly respond to them all, though not for lack of trying. She’s personally given away 11,000 Jeep ducks. “I have 600 in my Jeep right now. I just restocked,” she laughed.
Then the celebrity appearance gigs started. Jeep gatherings from around the continent started inviting Allison as their special guest, much to her surprise. “I do not feel like a celeb at all!” she exclaimed. “I’m your average boring person. I’m a dog mom and a cat mom and like to play with my Jeep.”
Others didn’t see it that way. Invitations started pouring in. She put 6,000 miles on her Jeep in just a month, driving to events she’d been invited to where she’d sign and give away duck after duck. The Wabash Valley Jeep Junkies brought her to their annual rally to raise money for the fight against breast cancer, especially meaningful to Allison because of her family’s history with the disease.
In fact Duck Duck Jeep got so big, Allison started thinking about how she could use it to make the world better. So she created a non-profit dedicated to “Ducky Grants.” Through it, teachers can apply for funds, usually around $100, to buy supplies for their classrooms that they’d otherwise have to pay for out of their own pockets. “So many teachers give so much more than they have,” said Allison, “we decided, why don’t we turn what good we have into something better.”
Allison sells Duck Duck Jeep t-shirts and decals, with all proceeds going into the grant program. And she hopes those efforts will leap forward this fall. Allison is organizing the Duck Duck Jeep Invasion in Wetumpka, Alabama. It’ll be a first of its kind Jeep rally that Allison hopes draws Jeepers in droves.
The event has a dual purpose: raising money for Allison’s non-profit, and helping bring life back to a downtown devastated by a damaging tornado two years ago. “We’re supporting all of the downtown market shops,” she said. “Hoping to make it a yearly event. Hoping for more than 1,000 Jeepers to come.” She’s already got a car show, bands, and vendors lined up, and admission will include - what else - an official Jeep Invasion rubber duck. The Duck Duck Jeep Invasion runs October 17th through 19th, with tickets available here.
They’re even raffling off a $10,000 project 1995 Wrangler CJ with several mods including a lifted suspension. Tickets are $100 for 2; you can buy them on the official Ducking Jeep’s Facebook page. It’s a private group, so you’ll need to join before you can buy, but you don’t have to be at the event to win.
Allison’s been a Jeeper her whole life. Her great uncle taught her to drive a manual transmission in old World War II and Korean War Jeeps he’d restored. “He used to take us out in the back bush on his property and let us loose in the Jeeps.” The old military vehicles were a constant thread in the many treasured memories of Allison’s time spent with her great uncle. She only wishes he’d lived long enough for the Jeep Duck phenomenon. “If he saw what we have done with this now he would have been ecstatic!”
Jeep Ducking’s changed Allison’s life. She’s got new friends from around the world, a non-profit that’s easing burdens on teachers, and it’s even impacted her dog. The Duck Duck Jeep Facebook group picked the name for her new pup: “Ducky Ollie.”
From a frightening assault in a parking lot just under a year ago, to a worldwide phenomenon and organizing a thousand-plus-Jeep rally today, it’s been an incredible ride for Allison Parliament. “I never thought this would be a thing,” she said with amazement. But a thing it definitely is, and it’s got Jeepers all around the world playing the Duck Duck Jeep game.
If you’d like to get in on the fun, Allison says you’re more than welcome to join her group. Check out the Official Ducking Jeeps Facebook page where to join, you need only answer the question, “How did you get ducked?”