This tweet from Norries Wilson, the Gopher football Director of Player Development sounds like a cool story, but also just doesn’t seem plausible.
Gopher football player Frank "Dinky" Rog, who spent a lot of time there in the 40's and 50's is listed as a possible origin of the name! pic.twitter.com/v5nHGdgbWt— Norries Wilson (@NorriesWilson) August 2, 2017
For someone I’ve never heard of it’s pretty cool that Frank “Dinky” Rog has been immortalized in this way. Frank Rog played tight end for the Gophers in 1952 and 1953. A couple things wrong with this theory, firstly the Dinkytown Business Association was founded in 1948, several years before Frank came to campus. Also if he were the namesake you’d think that kind of thing would show up in his obituary, but to be fair he did live an interesting life.
So then where does the name come from? There are several other ideas put forth over the years.
- The streetcars, called Dinkys, that used to provide transit throughout the area.
- Similarly, the chicken tenders at the nearby railyard were called Dinkys due to their small but snackable size.
- The theatre in Dinkytown had only four rows of seats, and for years was known as "The Dinky Theater." Shortly thereafter, it was just "The Dinky."
- It's a small town-like area; everything is within walking distance.
- The Loring Pasta Bar, previously Gray's Drug on 14th Ave. SE and 4th St. SE has the name of an early owner carved in cement over the doorway: "Grodnik," meaning a small (or dinky) town. The name of the early owner was Louis Grodnik. He owned a haberdashery at that location and built the building. His brother, Hela Grodnik, always claimed that he was the one who named the area when he said that "This is getting to be a real 'Dinky Town." Hela then went on to work for another brother, Jacob Grodnik, at Grodnik Jewelry at 7th and Hennepin in Minneapolis. Louis also owned a haberdashery at 4th and Hennepin known as "Grodnik and Fassbinder".
- Another conjecture which has been made is that "Grod" means "town" as in Stalingrad and that "nik" is the diminutive form. Hence small or dinky town.