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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New England State Symbols

There is an astonishing collection of state symbols in New England, most of which most of us probably have never heard of, until reading trivia lists like this:

The state shellfish of Connecticut is the Eastern oyster. Massachusetts has the New England Neptune as its state shell. Vermont seems to do all right without a state shell or shellfish.

Birds are popular state symbols. Rhode Island has its Rhode Island Red chicken, Connecticut took the robin, which departs in winter so one wonders how reliable a state bird that is. Both Maine and Massachusetts of course have the Chickadee, mainly or Mainely because Maine was once part of Massachusetts -- which also explains the coincidence of the mayflower being the state flower. That and Patriot’s Day.

Vermont has red clover for its flower, and milk for its state beverage. Three cheers and a milk mustache for the dairy industry in Vermont. Maine’s state beverage is Moxie, which you need to drink the stuff.

Berries are awfully important, too. The cranberry belongs to Massachusetts, and Maine’s is the wild blueberry.

The state rock in New Hampshire is granite, of course. It’s marble in Vermont, and cumberlandite in Rhode Island. Don’t suppose there are too many countertops or statues made of the slightly magnetic cumberlandite, but maybe some of our readers can educate us about that.

Unusual in the world of state symbols is the category of state folk art symbol -- Rhode Island has the Crescent Park carousel. Not to be outdone in fringe symbols, Massachusetts has a state donut -- the Boston Crème, and a state cookie, the Toll House, or chocolate chip cookie to you.

Both Massachusetts and Vermont have chosen the Morgan horse for its state horse. And for its state ship, Connecticut adopted the nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. Vermont has a state flavor -- maple, of course. Massachusetts has a state children’s book author, Dr. Seuss, who lost out to state children’s book -- which is Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings”.

Many of these symbols are references to aspects of our history or culture, though one may be hard pressed to discover why Connecticut required the praying mantis for its state insect. There’s a lot of important voting going on in the state houses. They might do some of it if there’s any time left over after voting on state cat, state fossil, and state polka.


John Hayes said...

Having lived for over 20 years in Vermont, & especially during my ill-spent youth, I question "milk" being the state beverage! Great fun!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I can just see Daffy Duck walking into a saloon and ordering milk in a dirty glass.

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