It’s Official!

Lactococcus Lactis
Lactococcus Lactis

Yes, last week, in a narrow 56 to 41 victory, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted to make it official. Lactococcus lactis is now the official state microbe of the Badger State.

It’s quite an honor for the hard-working little bacterium (used to make cheddar, Monterey Jack and Colby cheese) because Wisconsin is – so far, at least – the only one of the United States to name an official state microbe.

There are, of course, a number of other official state whatevers that might raise a few eyebrows. Is this what our state legislators are really doing when they should be doing some real work to improve our schools, our roads, our financial crisis and our quality of life in general? Really?

In 1991, Alabama named “The Miracle Worker” as the official state outdoor drama. That must have raised some heated protests from musical fans because two years later, “The Incident at Looney’s Tavern” was designated the state official musical drama.

Speaking of music, Massachusetts’ official state polka is “Say Hello to Someone in Massachusetts,” while Connecticut has the country’s only official state cantata: “The Nutmeg, Homeland of Liberty.” In 1996, Tennessee chose its official state bicentennial rap song (cleverly titled “A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap”).

But only two states are hip enough to have official state rock songs: Ohio laid claim to “Hang On Sloopy,” while the honor in Oklahoma goes to the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?”

The official state snack food of Illinois is popcorn, while South Carolina bestowed the same honor to boiled peanuts. Elsewhere on the food front, the ice cream cone is the official state dessert of Missouri. Kool Aid is the official state soft drink of Nebraska. The biscochito is New Mexico’s official state cookie, and the apple muffin is the official state muffin right here in the Empire State. And, of yes, the official state meat pie of Louisiana is the Natchitoches meat pie.

And only two states have made the tough choice of designating an official state toy, with the teddy bear winning the honor in Missouri, while the Slinky emerged victorious in Pennsylvania.

And as a little bonus, here are some of the other official state oddities that we discovered (and the year of their designation):

Utah’s Official State Cooking Pot: The Dutch Oven (1997)
Alaska’s Official State Marine Mammal: The Bowhead Whale (1983)
California’s Official State Grass: Purple Needlegrass (2004)
Connecticut’s Official State Heroine: Prudence Crandall (1995)
New Jersey’s Official State Shell: The Knobbed Whelk (1995)
Texas’ Official State Vehicle: The Chuckwagon (2005)
Delaware’s Official State Macroinvertebrate: The Stonefly (2005)
Georgia’s Official State ‘Possum: Pogo by Walt Kelly (1992)
Hawaii’s Official State Fish: The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (1985)
Maryland’s Official Sport: Jousting (1962)
Texas’ Official State Vehicle: The Chuckwagon (2005)

Here’s a list of official New York State symbols and here they are for Massachusetts. And now we’re wondering, what are we missing? Does New York need an official beverage (hey, Massachusetts has cranberry juice.) How about an official state rodent? Hmmmm…

  1. Greg says

    Actually, New York already has an official state beverage – milk.

  2. Bill says
    is a more upto date page for NYS Symbols or Offical whatevers.
    You forget the latest three for New York: the lilac was adopted as the State bush, common snapping turtle was adopted as the State reptile, and striped bass was adopted as the State saltwater fish. Click on the “Fun Things to do” link on this page and you too can find a coloring book filled with all the symbols of our state that you can color on-line.

  3. RM says

    I could nominate a few rats (Espada? Pat Snyder of NYSTI?) but I think that would be defaming rats.

  4. LiLi says

    I just wanna hear somebody say the name of Hawaii’s Official State Fish three times fast…

  5. Greg says

    Or even once…slowly

  6. LiLi says

    RE: Or even once…slowly

    There’s an idea for the next Lark show.

    I tried to sound it out and started thinking it sounds a bit like Ralph Kramden – Humina, humina…

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