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The One Burning Question People Have About Your State

We discovered the most searched question about each state—and answered them all.

There are many fun facts about all 50 states, but there can be only one subject per each that people are most curious about. Chances are, the first place you go to look for information about a state—or anything, really—is Google. So, we've scoured the search engine to reveal the number one thing people wonder the most about each state. Some of these frequently searched queries are about complex, timely topics, such as voting and climate change, while others were downright comical (sorry, Florida, there's not much love for you). Read on to discover the one question the most people have about your state, and the rest. And for more state debates, check out This Is the Ugliest State in the U.S.

Why does New Hampshire drink so much?

friends clinking by glasses with various alcoholic cocktails at table,close up top view

New Hampshire residents drink 4.67 gallons of alcohol (including beer, wine, and spirits) per year. This is likely because the state has low liquor taxes. And for more tipsy states, check out This Is the Drunkest State in America.

Why does New Jersey have a bad reputation?

The skyline of Newark, New Jersey

No offense to New Jersey, but the state isn't exactly the most beloved. For all the reasons why, check out This Is the Most Hated State in America.

Why does Wisconsin hate Illinois?

the downtown area and bean in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago and Green Bay are long-standing rivals, especially when it comes to sports. (Don't get them started about the Packers vs. the Bears!)

Why does Indiana smell bad?

Unpleasant smell. Portrait of young man in denim casual shirt grimacing in disgust and pinching his nose, displeased by bad breath or stinky odor, fart. studio shot isolated on yellow background

If you've ever driven through Indiana, you may have gotten a whiff of rotten eggs at some point. Many parts of the state are industrial, so you're likely smelling the pollution from factories or oil refineries. Gary, Indiana, is a major stinky culprit thanks to its steel mills. And for more grimy places, check out This Is the Dirtiest State in the U.S.

Why does Florida suck?

man with a thumbs down

Even with its beautiful beaches, Florida still catches a lot of flak for its sweltering heat, intense tourists, and hilariously ridiculous shenanigans (just Google "Florida man" news articles to see what we mean).

Why is Kansas so flat?

field of wheat in central Kansas is nearly ready for harvest.

Kansas has miles of corn and wheat fields in the Great Plains, giving it the illusion of being "flatter than a pancake." But according to geographer Jerry Dobson, Kansas is actually only the seventh flattest state in America.

Why does John Denver sing about West Virginia?

west virginia state welcome sign

Though "Take Me Home, Country Roads" is West Virginia's official anthem, the hit song was actually written about Maryland. But Maryland didn't have the same ring to it, so the state was swapped for neighboring West Virginia in the lyrics.

Why does Wisconsin have so much cheese?

assorted cheeses on table

Wisconsin is the top cheese producer in America and its dairy farms have been around since the 19th century. And if you want more state guides sent to you inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Why does no one live in Wyoming?

landscape photo of the Devils Tower in Crook County, Wyoming at sunrise

Wyoming is the least populous state, with only 578,759 residents as of 2019. Yet, it is the 10th largest state in America by area. Not many people live here because 48 percent of the land is owned by the federal government.

Why does New York pizza taste different?

new york pizza place

Chicago may have deep-dish pies, but there's nothing quite like a slice of pizza from the Big Apple. The thin crust has the perfect amount of crunch, and the minerals in New York City's water give the dough a flavor you can't find anywhere else. This is one of the reasons why Gotham's bagels are the best, too.

Why does Maryland have the best crabs?

blue crab, jimmy, maryland, state slang

Maryland blue crabs are a Chesapeake Bay specialty. Because they live in an area with four seasons and need to hibernate in the cold winter months, the crabs build up fat (known as "mustard"). This is what gives them a distinct buttery taste.

Why does Arkansas have a silent "s"?

little rock arkansas

For the record, Arkansas is not pronounced like Kansas. (It's "AR-kan-saw.") French settlers named the state after a local Native American tribe, and in the French language, the "s" sound is usually silent. And for more tricky names, This Is the Most Mispronounced State in the U.S.

Why does Hawaii love spam?

spam cans on shelf

Sure, jellied pork doesn't sound very appetizing, but Hawaiians have a special affinity for the food. (In fact, 7 million cans of Spam are eaten in Hawaii every year!) During World War II, Spam was one of the only items available for food rations, and since then, many Hawaiians have embraced it as part of their local cuisine.

Why does Connecticut exist?

hartford connecticut skyline

Poor Connecticut can't catch a break with this sassy query!

Why does Alabama have an elephant?

university of alabama elephant mascot

This question is about the University of Alabama, and the Crimson Tide football team is basically the state's pride and joy. Back in 1930, the college team dominated Mississippi 64-0, and Atlanta Journal sports reporter Everett Strupper wrote, "Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, 'Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,' and out stamped this Alabama varsity." The nickname stuck, and eventually the elephant became the team's official mascot.

Why is Idaho shaped so weird?

drawing of idaho on a chalkboard

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act to create the Idaho Territory. The next year, Montana withdrew from the territory and proposed that the Bitterroot Mountains become the border between the two regions, thus creating Idaho's strange panhandle shape.

Why does Vermont not have a McDonald's?

mcdonalds sign in the air, 1984 facts

Technically, there are McDonald's restaurants in Vermont. However, it is the only state that does not have a McDonald's in its capital of Montpelier. This is because the city only has around 7,500 residents and Vermont is known to prefer local establishments over fast food chains.

Why does Montana hate the FBI?

FBI agent Amazing Facts, did you know facts

This question stems from a specific series of events in the 1990s. An anti-government militia called the Montana Freemen had an armed standoff with the FBI after acting out against local officials and wreaking havoc in the region.

Why does Louisiana still speak French?

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Kouri-Vini (or Louisiana Creole) and Cajun French languages are deeply rooted in the state's history. Additionally, a wave of dual-language French immersion schools recently opened in Louisiana.

Why does Maine have so many lighthouses?

Lighthouse in Portland, Maine during the evening

There are 65 picturesque lighthouses along Maine's craggy coast. The state has a long maritime past, and the lighthouses were built to alert sailors of harbors and ports.

Why does Texas have its own flag?

National flag State of Texas on a flagpole

The Lone Star State got its own national flag in 1839 when it was the Republic of Texas. Six years later, Texas became the 28th U.S. state.

Why does Arizona not change time?

Person changing time on clock

Arizona experiences extremely hot weather, and if it were to observe Daylight Savings Time, the sun would stay out until nearly 9 p.m. in the summer. However, the Navajo Reservation does change the clocks every year, so keep that in mind if you're driving through.

Why does Kentucky own the Ohio River?

ohio river in kentucky
Shutterstock / Nat Chittamai

In 1792, the federal government decided that Kentucky owned the Ohio River after Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois fought over the prosperous land and trade route. Two centuries later, the river boundaries are still a point of contention.

Why does North Dakota have no trees?

North Dakota

The Great Plains in North Dakota are mainly made up of grassland, so trees are not part of the landscape.

Why does Oregon pump your gas for you?

woman gives her credit card to a gas station attendant

Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states where gas station attendants are required to fill up your tank. Not only does this create more jobs, but it's also a safety precaution, particularly with Oregon's wet weather. Oregon law specifically states that it reduces the chance that someone could slip in the rain.

Why does it rain so much in Georgia?

man and woman walking under one umbrella in the rain together

Due to its humid, subtropical climate, Georgia gets between 50 to 60 inches of rainfall annually. However, in 2020, the southern state broke records for an unusually high amount of precipitation.

Why does Pennsylvania have two football teams?

eagles super bowl {best of 2018}

Pennsylvania has not one but two NFL teams: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles. The two major metropolitan areas are on the opposite sides of the state and therefore have their own big fanbases.

Why does Rhode Island celebrate Victory Day?

american flag held by white hand

Rhode Island is the only state that celebrates Victory Day, which commemorates the end of World War II. When it was established in 1948, the holiday was set to be on Aug. 10, but in the '60s the law was changed, and it is now observed every year on the second Monday in August.

Why does Alaska have so much daylight?

An aerial view of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel from Mount Roberts.

Because Alaska is located so far north in the hemisphere, it gets many hours of sunlight throughout the summer. In fact, the city of Fairbanks sees 24 hours of daylight or civil twilight for more than 70 days.

Why does South Dakota have a buffalo roundup?

buffalo in custer state park, south dakota

The buffalo roundup is a way to balance the number of bison while protecting the grassland at Custer State Park. The event happens every fall and usually involves a herd of more than 1,000 bison.

Why does Missouri have the bootheel?

missouri map

In the early 1800s, John Hardeman Walker owned a plot of land in southern Missouri. When the U.S. Congress started organizing the official Missouri state government in 1818, he petitioned for the borders to be extended to include his land (forming the bootheel boundary), so he wouldn't have to be placed under Arkansas territory.

Why does Iowa vote first?

a young black man with his I voted sticker after voting in an election.

Because Iowa's nomination process is so long—with four caucuses and conventions plus advance notice of 30 days for events—the state has to get a head start. Now, it's part of Iowa law that voting begins eight days earlier than any other state.

Why does California have so many fires?

california wildfire
Shutterstock / David A Litman

Wildfires are particularly prominent in California thanks to the state's high temperatures and strong winds, but climate change has made the situation worse.

Why does Delaware have no taxes?

man with eyeglasses siting on floor in the living room and using smart phone and laptop for managing home finances

Delaware is considered a tax shelter. It has a high corporate and personal income tax rate, which offsets its lack of sales taxes, property taxes, value-added taxes, and inheritance taxes.

Why does Massachusetts have the best schools?

Harvard University Oldest Universities in America

Massachusetts is known for its incredible education (looking at you, Harvard and MIT). The Bay State took the crown for having the best school systems in America for the fifth year in a row, according to WalletHub, and its students have the highest math and reading test scores.

Why does Minnesota have so many lakes?

cliffs of tettegouche state park in minnesota
Shutterstock/Ralf Broskvar

Minnesota was once covered in glaciers, but over time the glaciers melted and formed the lakes seen today. Though it's known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota is actually home to more than 14,000 lakes.

Why does it snow in New Mexico?

Taos, New Mexico Romantic Christmas Towns

Though New Mexico is neighbors with Arizona, the two states have very different climates. Arizona is warm year-round, but New Mexico experiences a winter season with snow thanks to its high elevation and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. You can even ski at popular resorts in Santa Fe and Taos.

Why does Tennessee have three stars?

tennessee state flag facts

The trio of stars on Tennessee's state flag represents its three different divisions: east, middle, and west Tennessee.

Why is Ohio the birthplace of aviation?

Delta Air Lines A220-100 airplane in the sky

Wilbur and Orville Wright invented planes and were the first to take flight. They grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and, in 2003, Congress gave the state the nickname in honor of them.

Why does Oklahoma have so many tornadoes?

tornado U.S. state 1990s-era news stories

Oklahoma is in the heart of Tornado Alley, so it witnesses a greater number of twisters.

Why does Michigan have the Upper Peninsula?

Lake Superior Michigan, Isle Royale National Park rocky cove

After the Toledo War, a boundary dispute between Michigan and Ohio in the 1830s, Ohio gained possession of the Toledo Strip. Michigan was offered the Upper Peninsula (known as the UP) as a consolation prize when it became a state in 1837.

Why does Mississippi have the lowest life expectancy?

Doctor talking to woman with serious tone

The life expectancy of Mississippi is only 74.7 years old, due to high obesity rates, little access to quality healthcare, and a host of socio-economic factors. And for more places where your time could be cut short, Here's How Long You're Likely to Live in Every State.

Why is Washington called the Evergreen State?

hah rainforest inside the olympic national park

Historian C.T. Conover gave Washington this unofficial nickname due to its many evergreen forests.

Why does South Carolina use nuclear energy?

Light switch, cleaning mistakes

Just over half of South Carolina's electricity comes from nuclear power plants. In 2018, the southern state was third in the nation for nuclear energy, trailing Illinois and Pennsylvania. Nuclear energy is an emission-free power source, which means it can create cheaper electricity without polluting the air and environment.

Why does North Carolina have red dirt?

red clay in north carolina
Shutterstock / Kevin Burnell

North Carolina's red clay comes from iron that has been oxidized when air gets in, which causes the rusty pigment.

Why does Nebraska split electoral votes?

After signing up to vote, the mid adult woman points proudly at her "I Voted " sticker. There is still a long line of people waiting to sign in.

Almost every U.S. state has a winner-take-all electoral college, meaning the state's popular vote decides what its electoral votes will be. Nebraska and Maine are the only two that don't follow this rule. Instead, they use the congressional district method, which gives two electoral votes to the state's popular vote winner and additional electoral votes to the popular vote winner in each congressional district. If these popular vote contests choose to support different candidates, it could lead to a split electoral vote.

Why does Utah have salt flats?

Bonneville Salt Flats Utah Surreal Places in the U.S.

The Bonneville Salt Flats span 30,000 acres to the west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The salt deposits were formed when Lake Bonneville dried up and the water dissolved during the last Ice Age.

Why does Colorado have unhealthy air quality?

skyline of denver colorado

Denver is the most affected area, as the city has been hit with catastrophic wildfires as well as particle pollution. Colorado's dangerous ozone levels, which come from oil and gas emissions, also have a part to play in the unhealthy air quality.

Why is prostitution legal in Nevada?

the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada in the afternoon

Brothels have existed in Nevada since the 19th century, and laws were enacted to make conditions safer for the workers (such as weekly health checks). Solicitation is not allowed in public; only licensed and regulated brothels are permitted in Nevada.

Why does Virginia have independent cities?

downtown skyline and river in Richmond, Virginia at twilight

An independent city is one that is not within a county. There are 41 independent cities in the United States, 38 of which are in Virginia. These so-called "free cities" are part of the state constitution.

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