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13 Bizarrely Specific Official State Appetizers, Toys, Soils, and More

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By Lauren Hansen

State symbols are meant to represent the cultural heritage and historic treasures of each of the nation's 50 states. There are the obvious if unimaginative ones—flag, seal, motto—and then there are the more obscure groups—state footwear, anyone? While some of these items do make a lot of sense (Texas' state footwear, for example, is, duh, the cowboy boot), others have a hazier connection to their respective states. Here, 13 of our favorites.

1. Rhode Island's (proposed) official state appetizer: Calamari

Perhaps you're familiar with the concept of official state foods? Maybe you've traveled to Maryland and enjoyed their blue crabs, or have heard of Georgia's famous fresh peaches? Well, a Rhode Island legislator wants his small ocean-side state to have an edible symbol all its own. Rep. Joseph McNamara believes his state should embrace a signature appetizer, specifically calamari. McNamara says the fact that the state has the largest squid fishing fleet and that its chefs transform the lowly cephalopods into a uniquely tasty delicacy makes the bill a no-brainer. And naming an official appetizer opens the door for so much more. "Who knows?" he said. "We might go on to entrees next year." Oklahoma, for its part, has already designated a whole state meal, consisting of fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas, and, if you have room for it, pecan pie.

2. Massachusetts' (proposed) official state rock song: "Roadrunner"

Massachusetts already has an official folk song (Arlo Guthrie's "Massachusetts") and polka song ("Say Hello to Someone From Massachusetts"), but what's sorely missing is a head-banging rock option. Well, Joyce Linehan — a former band manager and campaigner for Sen. Elizabeth Warren — is trying to change that. With the support of Massachusetts Rep. Marty Walsh, Linehan began campaigning in February for a bill that would name the '70s band Modern Lovers' song "Roadrunner" the official state hard rock song. The song is about growing up in the Commonwealth and throws in several Boston references. The bill's Facebook page, which is trying to reach 123,456 likes, is currently up to 1,805.

3. Minnesota's (proposed) official state poem: "Minnesota Blue"

Considering the poem's name, plus the fact that it starts and ends with the verse "Minnesota, how I love you," Cordell Keith Haugen's homage to the Midwestern state might seem like a no-brainer. At least that's what Republican Sen. Bruce Anderson, who is backing the bill introduced in February, believes. But "Minnesota Blue" is a controversial pick, especially for Democratic Phyllis Kahn, who says the fact that Haugen, a singer/songwriter from Hawaii, isn't actually a Minnesotan is "particularly offensive." Good luck, "Minnesota Blue."

4. Arizona's official state firearm: Colt Single Action Army Revolver

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer officially made the Colt Single Action Army Revolver the state's firearm on April 28, 2011. The legislation came only months after the mass shooting in Tucson that nearly killed then-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and left six others dead. Supporters of the bill, which narrowly made it through the state House, said there was nothing wrong with honoring a firearm's contribution to the state's western heritage. "Arizona was founded by rugged individuals who took care of themselves and did so largely with a [Colt] on their hip,"said lobbyist Todd Rathner.

5. Kansas' (proposed) official state dog: Cairn terrier

During Dorothy's bizarre trip from Kansas to Oz and back again, her faithful companion Toto was forever by her side. Which is why the loyal and adorable cairn terrier is at the center of a bill, backed by a state representative and proposed in 2012, to make the breed the state's official dog. And Kansans are quite open to the canine honor. In fact, back in 2006, a local schoolteacher's petition garnered thousands of signatures for a similar bill, but in the end, lacked a supportive legislator. While the current bill is still in political limbo, supporters say the Toto dog is an indisputably good choice given that Kansas is already "forever linked" to The Wizard of Oz.

6. Maryland's official state sport: Jousting

Tourists may come to Maryland for the blue crabs, but it's the state's official sport — jousting — that has the truly historic ties. While only designated in 1962, jousting tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times. While competitors, still referred to as "knights" and "maids," no longer aim their fine-tipped lances at each other, the men and women charge a horse at full-gallop through an 80-yard course toward suspended rings in attempt to "spear" the loops, scoring points accordingly. But jousting better watch its back, as fans of Duckpin bowling are hot on its medieval heels. Owners of the state's approximately 50 duckpin bowling alleys are petitioning to make their sport — which is similar to bowling, only with a smaller ball — the state's official pastime. Supporters point out that the sport was actually invented in Baltimore and Maryland is, "without question, the Mecca of duckpin bowling."

7. North Carolina's official state popular dance: The shag

Several states actually have an official state dance — Hawaii has the hula, for example — but only a few have two. North Carolina is one such lucky and apparently rhythmic state. In 2005, the General Assembly passed a bill making the official folk dance clogging — a Gaelic derivative developed in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and selected because of its "distinct, dignified, and beautiful footwork." The same bill acknowledged the official popular dance as the shag, which is a form of swing dancing that some believe originated on the Carolina beach during the 1940s.

8. Maine's official state soft drink: Moxie

The taste of Moxie isn't for everyone. It starts out with a familiar smack, like Pepsi or root beer, but quickly takes on a medical flavor with notes of wintergreen and bitters, ending rather strongly with a dry bitterness not unlike vermouth. Even after the first or second taste, you might feel the urge to spit it out. But with patience, even the newly initiated will come to realize the soft drink is "the beverage of gourmets." And the beverage is without a doubt the choice of Mainers. The carbonated refreshment in the bright orange packaging is unique to the Northeast. Concocted in the 1870s by a doctor in Union, Maine, the beverage went on to outsell Coca-Cola in the early 1900s. The bill making Moxie the state's official soft drink passed in 2005, and says the very name "symbolizes spirit and courage," virtues esteemed by true Mainers.

9. Illinois' official state dirt: Drummer

The Land of Lincoln is actually flush with state symbols, from snack food (popcorn) to amphibian (eastern tiger salamander). But in 2001, the Illinois General Assembly dug deep to find a new emblem, and unanimously approved a bill establishing an official state soil — Drummer silty clay loam. Why, you might ask? Supporters say they hope the official designation will make residents more aware of the connection between the state's farming economy and the soil that makes such success possible. "Soil is crucial to our state's history, our quality of life, and our future," says Bill Gradle, the state conservationist. While few would be able to distinguish Drummer from regular old dirt, the official soil is actually the state's most common, covering about 1.5 million acres, and is especially suited to growing the state's most valuable field crops — corn and soybeans. And Illinois isn't alone in acknowledging the earth. At least 20 other states have similar honors, including Wisconsin and Florida.

10. Missouri's official state dinosaur: The Hypsibema

The Hypsibema missouriense is a type of herbivore distinguished by its duck-billed head. Within that strong jaw are more than 1,000 teeth that evolved over time to handle tough, fibrous vegetation. The dinosaur was native to Missouri during the Late Cretaceous Period and its fossils were first discovered in 1942 by Dan Stewart near the town of Glen Allen, Mo. The plant-eating beast was adopted by Missouri as its state dino on July 9, 2004. There are only six other states that have taken particular prehistoric animals as their own.

11. Wisconsin's official state microbe: The Lactococcus lactis

On the surface, Wisconsin's 2010 nomination of a microbe may seem like a mockery of state government's favor of minutiae over movement. However, the Lactococcus lactis isn't your average microbe. The hardworking bacterium is used to make cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack cheeses and is "an unsung hero" of the nation's No. 1 cheese-producing state.

12. New Mexico's official state question: "Red or green?"

New Mexico really got down to the symbolic nitty gritty when, in 1996, the legislature passed a House Joint Memorial declaring "Red or green?" as the official state question. The options refers to the red or green chilies native to New Mexican cuisine, and is the inquiry most often heard in local restaurants. Chiles are the state's top cash crop, and the adoption of the peculiar question acknowledges the pod's historical importance. Unsurprisingly, New Mexico is the only state to have such a designation.

13. Mississippi's official state toy: The Teddy bear

Mississippi wanted to cinch its connection to the origin story of the Teddy bear, and passed a bill in 2002 making it the state's official toy. The story, in case you're wondering, goes like this: In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to Mississippi for a hunting expedition during which the president refused to shoot a helpless bear as it would be unsportsmanlike. Soon after, a New York toy company labeled a stuffed toy bear "Teddy's bear," instituting the cuddly copy as a childhood favorite for decades to come. Mississippi is actually the only state with an official toy, though Pennsylvania has a proposed bill that would make the Slinky its official state toy.

Sources: The Baltimore SunCBS LocalFox NewsHuffington PostThe New York TimesReuters, State Symbols USATwinCities.comUSA Today

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25 Dapper Outfit Choices for Fashionable Pets
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Lavishing your furry friends with adorable attire is a benefit of pet ownership that they don't mention on the adoption forms. Whether you prefer practical clothing like sweaters and jackets or statement pieces like bow ties and tutus, these dapper duds are perfect for a howl-iday or "gotcha day" gift, or simply for saying, "Who's the cutest little pupper in pajamas? You are!"

1. CASHMERE DOG SWEATER; FROM $165

dog in sweater
Canine Styles

This classic cable-knit cashmere sweater is a sophisticated look for Fido or Finn. Get it from Canine Styles, a luxury dog emporium in New York City that has plenty of posh and preppy outfits.

Find It: Canine Styles

2. TOGGLE DOG COAT; $85

dog in coat
Canine Styles

This toggle coat (available in orange, navy, and tan) is as fashionable as it is warm. Made of Melton wool, it has Velcro closures to make getting dressed easy. It's great for long walks in the country.

Find It: Canine Styles

3. DOG TUXEDO; FROM $90

Dog in tuxedo
Etsy

This satin tuxedo is perfect for the canine members of your wedding party, though it will brighten up any other occasion as well. The custom, handmade outfit comes complete with a snappy bow tie.

Find It: Etsy

4. DOG BELLE DRESS; FROM $45

Dog Belle Dress
Etsy

The queen of your castle can feel like a Disney princess in her very own version of Belle's iconic yellow dress from Beauty and the Beast. This ball gown is made from yellow crepe satin with chiffon overlay on the bodice and features hand-painted gold detailing on the skirt. Enchanted rose not included.

Find It: Etsy

5. POODLE SKIRT OUTFIT FOR DOGS; $26

Rubies Pink Fifties Girl Pet Costume
Amazon

What if you could buy a 1950s poodle skirt for your poodle? This retro dress is comprised of a pink poodle skirt, striped bodice, and sequined belt, and comes with a bow headband.

Find It: Amazon

6. RIBBED CROCHET BUNNY SWEATER; $25

bunny in a sweater
Etsy

Your snuggle-bunny will look like a little fancy-pants in this ribbed crochet sweater. Choose from seven colors, including this dashing deep red.

Find It: Etsy

7. BESPOKE MONOGRAM DOG SWEATER; FROM $155

Dog in sweater
Ruby Rufus

Bespoke clothing isn't just for humans: British luxury dog clothing brand Ruby Rufus will make your pooch a custom monogram sweater made with 100 percent Italian cashmere. You can even order it in your dog's favorite color.

Find It: Ruby Rufus

8. HOT PINK DOG TUTU; $17

Dog in hot pink tutu
Etsy

Tutus look absolutely adorable on tiny humans and animals alike. If your pooch wants to get in touch with its inner ballerina, then grab this hot pink number from Etsy. Rave reviews are a sure thing.

Find It: Etsy

9. PINK DOG POLO SHIRT; $35

Dog Pink Polo Shirt
Canine Styles

This pink polo shirt is perfect for your preppy fur baby. It features not one but a veritable multitude of crocodiles. They'll be the most dapper dog at the country club.

Find It: Canine Styles

10. DOG BARN COAT WITH BROWN CORDUROY COLLAR; $85

Dog in barn coat
Canine Styles

When it's time for a walk, your dog will look effortlessly chic in this fancy barn coat. It comes in navy, cranberry, orange, hot pink, and loden and features convenient pockets for anyone with opposable thumbs.

Find It: Canine Styles

11. WHITE PET NECK RUFF; $26

Pet Neck Ruff
Etsy

Your canine or kitty will look like their painting belongs in London's National Portrait Gallery with this Elizabethan neck ruff.

Find It: Etsy

12. CHICKEN SWEATER; $25

chicken wearing sweater
Etsy

Chickens can get cold when they're strutting around outside. A sweater (well, more like sweater vest) for your bird can also help prevent feather picking during molting season. Or, it can simply keep them warm while they stare pensively across a snowy landscape.

Find It: Etsy

13. PET CIRCLE SCARF; $15

dog in scarf
Etsy

An infinity scarf is a perfect burst of color on a dreary early morning walk. The proprietor of Mitten Made on Etsy originally designed this wool snood for her miniature Dachshund to help keep her warm during the long, cold winters in Michigan.

Find It: Etsy

14. FAB DOG TRAVEL RAINCOAT; FROM $18

Fab Dog Travel Raincoat
Chewy

This timeless yellow rain slicker will look great on any puppy when it's raining cats and dogs. It's made of 100 percent waterproof nylon shell that keeps fur dry. Bonus: It's perfect for an It Halloween costume.

Find It: Chewy

15. LACE CAT OR DOG COLLAR; FROM $10

cat in lace collar
Etsy

This handmade, white lace collar is a must-have for fancy felines. It's also embellished with a large rhinestone.

Find It: Etsy

16. FITWARM PENGUIN PAJAMAS FOR DOGS; FROM $10

Fitwarm Cute Penguin Xmas Dog Pajamas
Amazon

Keep your pupper warm on cold winter nights with these penguin PJs. They're great for doggie sleepovers or lazy weekends on the couch watching Netflix.

Find It: Amazon

17. PLAID CASHMERE DOG COAT; FROM $225

dog in plaid coat
Canine Styles

Your dog will look like a proper gentleman in this smart plaid peacoat. This fine garment is made of cashmere with a faux fur lining and leather buttons, and is a perfect shield against chill and fog.

Find It: Canine Styles

18. SATIN PET BOW TIE; FROM $8

Satin Bow Tie for Dog
Etsy

This satin doggie bow tie is perfect for any occasion. It comes in several colors and features a Velcro fastener that makes it easy to attach to a collar. Plus, 10 percent of every sale goes to charity: specifically to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

Find It: Etsy

19. RED DOG DRESS; FROM $34

dog in dress
Etsy

Your good boy or girl will look red carpet-ready in this elegant gown. The voluminous tulle skirt is to die for, and each bow is embellished with beads. Custom orders are also available.

Find It: Etsy

20. DOG TIE; FROM $13

Dog tie
Etsy

Your pooch will be ready to stun at any black tie event. This tie is designed like a collar, making it easy to dress your four-legged friend. This Etsy store gives back: 10 perfect of all sales are donated to an animal protection association.

Find It: Etsy

21. NAUTICAL DOG DRESS WITH MATCHING LEASH; $20

Dog sailor dress
BaxterBoo

Perfect for a day on the town or setting sail in a schooner, this is the sailor outfit you never knew your best furry friend needed. This vintage throwback also comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

22. TARTAN FLANNEL PET BOW TIE; $5.50

tartan pet bow tie
Etsy

Your dog or cat will turn heads in this flannel tartan bow tie. It has a convenient elastic loop that slides over your pup's collar.

Find It: Etsy

23. PUCCI DOG SHIRT; $23

dog in Pucci dog shirt
Etsy

Only the fanciest dogs wear, err, Pucci. Grab this punny "designer" t-shirt for your pup. This high-quality cotton statement piece is perfect for small breeds.

Find It: Etsy

24. PINK POLKA DOT AND LACE DOG HARNESS DRESS; $20

Pink Polka Dot and Lace Designer Dog Harness Dress
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This feminine pink polka dot dress is simply adorable. It features a convenient built-in harness and comes with a matching leash.

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25. PET SWEATER VEST; $6

pet sweater vest
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Your dog or cat will look like an erudite Oxford professor in this sweater vest. Note that the button on the pocket is shaped like a bone.

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