This Is The Strangest Thing You Didn't Know Represents Your State
From state dinosaurs to state snacks, these are the weirdest state symbols.
When it comes to state symbols, every state has the usual state flag, state motto, and even a state bird. But did you know that some states also have a state dinosaur like Wyoming's Triceratops, or a state muffin like the corn muffin in Massachusetts? If you're curious to learn what weird state symbol represents your state, then read on.
Alabama's State Shell: Johnstone's Junonia
We have state songs, state birds, state flowers, and state… shells? Yes! For Alabama, they designated the Johnstone's Junonia to be their state shell in 1990. The shell, which is only found in Alabama waters, was named to honor Kathleen Yerger Johnstone, a conchologist from Mobile, Alabama.
Alaska's State Fossil: Woolly Mammoth
You may not realize that many states also have a state fossil. Alaska's is the woolly mammoth. Back in the prehistoric ages, this extinct animal came into Alaska from Siberia over the Bering Land Bridge.
Arizona's State Dinosaur: Sonorasaurus
It wasn't until recently that Arizona decided it wanted its own state dinosaur. Arizona governor Doug Ducey signed a bill in 2018 that made the Sonorasaurus Arizona's official state dinosaur, KTAR News reported. Apparently the push for a state dino came from 11-year-old Jax Weldon, who sent a letter to Ducey's office about the Sonorasaurus fossils that had been found in southeastern Arizona.
Arkansas' State Beverage: Milk
Milk was officially made Arkansas' state beverage in 1985. But that's not as odd as it might seem: Dairy farming is a huge part of Arkansas agriculture. By the year 1948, the gross farm income from dairy in Arkansas had reportedly already reached $61 million.
California's State Fabric: Denim
California designated denim as their official state fabric in 2016. The passed bill details denim's long history in California, beginning when "denim jeans were invented in San Francisco during the Gold Rush Era." According to the bill, California now produces nearly 75 percent of the premium denim jeans sold worldwide.
Colorado's State Tartan: Colorado State Tartan
Some states also have an official tartan, which is a plaid textile design with Scottish origins. Colorado's is simply called the Colorado state tartan, but it consists mainly of blue, which is said to represent the clear Colorado skies, and green, which is reflects the pine and spruce that cover the Colorado mountains. The gold color signifies the state's historic mining industry, and red is for the "C" on the state flag.
Connecticut's State Children's Flower: Four-O'Clock Flower
State flowers are common, but what about state children's flowers? While mountain laurel has been Connecticut's state flower since 1907, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill designating four o'clocks as the official children's state flower in 2015, according to the Hartford Courant. This was done in memory of Michaela Petit, an 11-year-old who was murdered in Connecticut during a home invasion. Four-o'clocks that Michaela and her father had planted together in the family garden had been among the items salvaged from the home, which had been set on fire.
Delaware's State Dessert: Peach Pie
Delaware made peach pie their official state dessert in 2009. According to the state government, peach farming is an "important part of Delaware's agriculture heritage," as the fruit has been in the state since colonial times. The move to make peach pie the official state dessert came from the fifth and sixth grade students of St. John's Lutheran School in Dover.
Florida's State Day: Pascua
Not many states have an official state day, but Florida does! April 2 was designated as the official state day in 1953, as it was around the day Ponce de León first discovered Florida in 1513. It's called "Pascua," because Pascua Florida is what Ponce de León had first named Florida, which means "flowery land." Governors can also designate the week of March 27 to April 2 as "Pascua Florida Week."
Georgia's State Prepared Food: Grits
Grits are a classic southern dish, but Georgia decided to take it a step further by designating this dish as its official state prepared food in 2002. Grits are simply bits of ground corn, and corn is a prominent crop grown in the state of Georgia.
Hawaii's State Traditional Musical Instrument: Pahu
Idaho's State Horse: Appaloosa
Appaloosa horses are distinguished by their unique, cow-looking spotted coats. These animals have history with the Nez Perce tribe, which congregated in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Idaho ended up adopting the unique horses as their official state horse in 1975.
Illinois' State Snack Food: Popcorn
Think you love popcorn? Well, Illinois loves it so much that, in 2003, they made this snack their state snack food. (And they're one of only a few states that actually have an official snack food.) There are reportedly 333 farms in Illinois that grow popcorn, and making this snack official was first proposed by second and third grade students at Cunningham Elementary School in Joliet, Illinois.
Indiana's State Language: American Sign Language
Indiana adopted English as the state's official language in 1984, but in 1995, the state legislature officially adopted American Sign Language as another official state language. It recognized ASL "as a standard, independent language with its own grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and cultural heritage, which is widely used by individuals who hear, individuals who are deaf, and individuals who are hard of hearing in Indiana and in the United States."
Iowa's State Rock: Geode
Yes, there are state rocks. Iowa designated the geode as their official state rock in 1967 to promote tourism. There are a large number of rare geodes that are found in the state and the town of Keokuk, Iowa, is visited by collectors and museums around the world for the geodes found there.
Kansas' State Red Wine Grape: Chambourcin
Kansas just recently designated an official red wine grape in 2019. The Chambourcin grape is a French-American hybrid grape native to the state, and it makes a red wine similar to a pinot noir. The state also designated Vignoles as the official white wine grape the same year.
Kentucky's State Musical Instrument: Appalachian Dulcimer
Kentucky's official state musical instrument is the Appalachian dulcimer, which was adopted in 2001. Central to bluegrass music, this instrument is said to be heavily used in the Appalachia area—a geographical region that has its heart in Eastern Kentucky.
Louisiana's State Meat Pie: Natchitoches Meat Pie
In 2003, Louisiana adopted the Natchitoches meat pie as the state's official meat pie. Natchitoches is a city in northern Louisiana, and has offered this dish since the late 1700s. There's even a Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival held in the city every year.
Maine's State Herb: Wintergreen
It seems like there's a state everything, and that includes a state herb. Maine adopted wintergreen as its state herb in 1999. Colonies of this herb can be found all over the woods and forests of Maine.
Maryland's State Dinosaur: Astrodon
Maryland, too, has a state dinosaur. In 1998, the state adopted the Astrodon as its official state dinosaur. These dinosaurs—also known as Astrodon johnstoni—are characterized by small heads, long necks, and long tails, and they are thought to have lived in the area of Maryland during the Early Cretaceous period. Astrodon fossil teeth were discovered in 1858—one of the earliest dinosaur discoveries in America, and the first in Maryland.
Massachusetts' State Muffin: Corn Muffin
There are plenty of state designated foods, and Massachusetts has a designated state muffin: the corn muffin. It was adopted in 1986 after petitioning from school children in the state. In terms of food, Massachusetts also designates a state dessert (Boston cream pie), a state donut (Boston cream donut), and a state cookie (chocolate chip).
Michigan's State Stone: Petoskey Stone
The state stone of Michigan isn't actually a stone. The petoskey stone, known for its unique hexagon spotted pattern, is actually fossilized coral. However, since this coral covered Michigan waters in prehistoric times, the state adopted it as the official state stone in 1965.
Minnesota's State Grain: Wild Rice
The wild rice grain of Minnesota isn't similar to your common rice. The dark brown kernels are produced by the maturing of seeds from an aquatic grass. Wild rice is commercially produced in Minnesota and is a staple field crop for the state, which adopted it as its official state grain in 1977.
Mississippi's State Shell: Oyster
Mississippi's state shell is literally that of an oyster. The oyster shell was adopted in 1974 because it is "one of the more valuable resources of the Mississippi Gulf Coast."
Missouri's State Grass: Big Bluestem
Some states also have designated state grass. Missouri's is the big bluestem, a grass native to Missouri that grows with blue-green leaves. The grass was adopted in 2007, after a fourth grade class at Truman Elementary School in Rolla, Missouri, pushed for it.
Montana's State Fossil: Duck-Billed Dinosaur
Fossil remains of the duck-billed dinosaur have only been found in Montana, leading experts to believe the dinosaur was native to that area. It was adopted as the official state fossil in 1985, following a push from school children in Livingston, Montana.
Nebraska's State Soft Drink: Kool-Aid
Kool-Aid? A soft drink? Officially, according to Nebraska, it is. In 1998, Nebraska designated this drink as the state's official soft drink. The fruit-flavored powder was created in 1927 by Edwin Perkins and his wife, Kitty, who both lived in Hastings, Nebraska.
Nevada's State Artifact: Tule Duck Decoy
Nevada has a state artifact, the tule duck decoy. This artifact was adopted in 1995, and according to the legislature, these decoys—formed by bundles of tule stems bound together and shaped to resemble ducks—were created by Native Americans more than 2,000 years ago. However, they weren't discovered by archaeologists until 1924.
New Hampshire's State Poultry: New Hampshire Red
In 2018, New Hampshire adopted the New Hampshire Red—a chicken breed known to withstand cold winters like those in the state—to be its official state poultry, as reported by New Hampshire Public Radio. The legislation was proposed by students from Canaan Elementary School.
New Jersey's State Dinosaur: Hadrosaurus
New Jersey's state dinosaur is the Hadrosaurus, which was adopted in 1991. This dinosaur, also called Hadrosaurus foulkii, was native to the forest and swamps in the bay of New Jersey's seacoast in prehistoric times. The bones of the Hadrosaurus were located in 1858 by fossil hobbyist William Parker Foulke.
New Mexico's State Cookie: Biscochito
A cinnamon-flavored shortbread cookie, the biscochito was created by Spaniards in the early 16th century. The cookie was designated as New Mexico's state cookie in 1989 as a way to "encourage traditional home-baked cooking," and the state actually became the first to recognize an official state cookie symbol.
New York's State Snack: Yogurt
Are you a fan of yogurt? Apparently New York is, too. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in legislation making this treat the state's official snack in 2014, after New York passed California as the top producer of yogurt in the nation.
North Carolina's State Toast: "A Toast"
No, this isn't toast as in the food. "A Toast," designated as North Carolina's state toast, is what people say when they gather to raise their glasses in honor. The script, which references the "Old North State" as the "best land," was written by Leonora Martin and Mary Burke Kerr, and adopted in 1957.
North Dakota's State Horse: Nokota Horse
The Nokota horse was designated as North Dakota's official state horse or "state honorary equine" in 1993. These horses are descendants from the "last surviving wild horses" that lived in the badlands of western North Dakota.
Ohio's State Beverage: Tomato Juice
Sorry to all Ohioans who aren't partial to it, but your state beverage is, in fact, tomato juice. It was adopted in 1965, coinciding with the now-annual Tomato Festival held in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to honor Reynoldsburg resident Alexander Livingston, who began growing tomatoes commercially in 1870. And by 1965, it just made sense to make tomato juice the official beverage, since Ohio had grown to become the second leading producer of tomato juice in the nation, following California.
Oklahoma's State Flying Mammal: Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
There are state dinosaurs, so why shouldn't there be state bats? Oklahoma adopted the Mexican free-tailed bat as their official state flying mammal in 2006. According to Rep. Jeff Hickman, Mexican-free tailed bats fly to Oklahoma to breed before returning back to their native land in Mexico.
Oregon's State Father: Dr. John McLoughlin
Yes, Oregon has an official state father. Dr. John McLoughlin was instrumental for his contributions to the early development of the state, so he was bestowed this honor in 1957. Oregon also has an official state mother—Tabitha Moffatt Brown, who was known for her charitable efforts in education.
Pennsylvania's State Amphibian: Eastern Hellbender
Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation to adopt the Eastern hellbender as Pennsylvania's state amphibian in 2019. The push for this nocturnal animal to be recognized came from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Student Leadership. They hoped that by highlighting this animal, it would "generate greater awareness of the importance of clean waterways in the commonwealth," which the Eastern hellbender needs to survive.
Rhode Island's State Drink: Coffee Milk
Rhode Island's state drink is coffee milk. If you're not from there, you may be asking yourself, "What is coffee milk?" It's a local drink native to the state that's made by combining sweet coffee syrup and milk. The drink has been around since the 1920s, but it was adopted by Rhode Island in 1993.
South Carolina's State Craft: Sweetgrass Basket Weaving
South Carolina adopted an official state craft in 2006. Sweetgrass basket weaving is known as the "official state low country handcraft," and has been a tradition in the low country for more than 300 years.
South Dakota's State Bread: Fry Bread
What about state breads? South Dakota adopted fry bread as its official state bread in 2005. This is a Native American bread made by frying flattened bread dough, and is typically served with dessert toppings like honey or powdered sugar.
Tennessee's State Wild Animal: Raccoon
Many people aren't too fond of raccoons, but Tennessee sure is! This state adopted the raccoon as its state wild animal in 1971. Found across the United States, the raccoons living in Tennessee typically measure from 3o to 38 inches long.
Texas's State Dish: Chili
Texas has a state dish, and it's chili. When it was adopted in 1977, the legislature claimed that it was "in recognition of the fact that the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans." You could say Texas is protective of its chili—which may be why no other states have tried to adopt it as their state dish.
Utah's State Cooking Pot: Dutch Oven
In Utah, it's all about the Dutch oven. The state decided it needed an official state cooking pot in 1997, and the Dutch oven was the obvious choice. After all, the International Dutch Oven Society is headquartered in Logan, Utah, and each year the World Championship Dutch Oven Cook-off is hosted in the state.
Vermont's State Amphibian: Northern Leopard Frog
Vermont also recognizes an official state amphibian, the northern leopard frog. Designated as such in 1998, the frog, which is native to the area, has been threatened by habitat loss and climate change. The state decided to make it the state amphibian to raise awareness, noting that the "colors of the northern leopard frog represent the beauty of [Vermont] during all seasons."
Virginia's State Bat: Virginia Big-Eared Bat
Virginia recognized the Virginia big-eared bat as its state bat in 2005. It's one of three states that recognize bats as official state symbols, alongside Texas and Oklahoma (whose state bat falls under the "flying mammal" category). Since these bats are endangered, the state legislature hopes this symbol "helps to educate Virginians about caves and the creatures that inhabit them."
Washington's State Oyster: Olympia Oyster
Mississippi may have the oyster as its state shell, but Washington has an actual specific state oyster. The Olympia oyster—technically known as the Ostrea lurida oyster—is the only oyster species native to the Pacific Northwest coast. After 14-year-old Washington resident Claire Thompson championed getting this oyster recognized, it was adopted as a state symbol in 2014.
West Virginia's State Rock: Coal
West Virginia's state rock is in fact, coal. State legislature designated it as such in 2009 to symbolize how much impact the coal industry had on the economic history of the state. However, it wasn't the only state to do so: Coal is also a state symbol for Kentucky and Utah.
Wisconsin's State Pastry: Kringle
Wisconsin recognized the kringle as its official state pastry in 2013. What's a kringle? It's a flaky, oval-shaped pastry with either a fruit or nut filling. This pastry was brought to Wisconsin by Danish immigrants in the 1800s, and is now an integral part of the state. Racine, Wisconsin, is even known as "The Kringle Capital of the World."
Wyoming's State Dinosaur: Triceratops
With all these state dinosaurs, one had to be the Triceratops. This stocky, long-horned dinosaur was native to the Wyoming area during prehistoric times, and thus, adopted as Wyoming's official state dinosaur in 1994.