Any state can have an official flag, motto, and tree. It takes a particularly delightful kind of place to have its own government-endorsed donut, dinosaur, or marine animal.
1. Virginia is for (Bat) Lovers
In 2005, the endangered big-eared bat became the only state symbol that sleeps upside down in a cave.
2. Wyoming Takes a Three-Pronged Approach
Most states have official fossils, and a few have their own dinosaurs. Wyoming has both, but they're not the same animal. Knightia, the world’s most frequently excavated fossil fish, isn't that impressive. But Triceratops, official state dinosaur since 1994, is the coolest horned quadruped to ever roam the Great Plains.
3. Lightning Bugs Strike Twice
The majority of state insects are butterflies, honeybees, or ladybugs, but some states are flashier. Literally. Pennsylvania and Tennessee put the lightning bug in the spotlight in 1974 and 1975, respectively.
4. Iowans Love Glam Rocks
Iowa's official state rock isn’t outwardly impressive, but if you crack one open the geode reveals beautiful quartz and calcite crystals. The state’s senate was reluctant to adopt a state rock back in 1967, with some senators referring to the bill's proponents as "state nuts." But when beautiful geode specimens were passed around, the legislators were so dazzled they changed their minds.
5. Oregon Is a Little Nutty
Oregon actually does have a state nut—the country's largest crop of hazelnuts. They got the respect they deserve in 1989.
6. Louisiana Makes Lots of Dough
If you find yourself in Louisiana, it's only proper to order a few dozen beignets, which has been the state donut since 1986.
7. New Mexico Is a Baker’s Paradise
New Mexico was the first state to select an official cookie in 1989. It chose to honor the bizcochito, a lard or butter-based treat flavored with anise and cinnamon.
8. Massachusetts’ Muffin Choice Is Corny
In case you're wondering, there are no official state cupcakes ... yet. But Massachusetts gave the corn muffin the nod as its official muffin in 1986 after the state’s schoolchildren asked for it by name. (Minnesota and Maine prefer blueberry muffins, while New York claims the apple muffin.)
9. Delaware Is Delightfully Crabby
The horseshoe crab may be one of the most ancient animals on Earth, but it's only been Delaware's state marine animal since 2002. The Delaware Bay is home to the world’s largest population of Atlantic horseshoe crabs.
10. Utah’s State Bird Crosses Borders
It may sound funny that Utah’s state bird is the California gull, but the species earned its distinction. The California gull supposedly saved early Mormon settlers’ first harvest from being devoured by insects in 1848. The settlers’ ancestors repaid the favor 107 years later by making the California gull Utah’s official state bird.
11. North Carolina Shells Out for Symbolism
The Eastern box turtle was one of the first state reptiles, earning North Carolina's shell of approval in 1979. The Secretary of State's website explains the decision: “The turtle watches undisturbed as countless generations of faster ‘hares’ run by to quick oblivion, and is thus a model of patience for mankind, and a symbol of our State’s unrelenting pursuit of great and lofty goals.”
12. It’s Reigning Cats and Dogs in Maryland
Dogs are Maryland's best friend. The Chesapeake Bay retriever became the first state canine in 1964. Almost 40 years later, cat fanciers evened the score when Maryland appointed the calico the official state cat.
13. Maryland Boasts Hot Summer Knights
Maryland also declared jousting the first official state sport in 1962. The state has hosted tournaments for men, women, and children since colonial times.
14. Oklahoma Makes Eating Your Veggies More Fun
Who says a state vegetable has to actually be a vegetable? In 2007, Oklahoma's House of Representatives gave the watermelon the coveted title, explaining that it belongs to the cucumber and gourd families.
15. Hawaii Grows Its Own Gems
Meanwhile, black coral—designated Hawaii's state gemstone in 1987—is technically an animal.
Whether you’re Maryland’s top jouster or Oregon’s biggest hazelnut fan, GEICO’s customer service will always give you a delightful experience you’ll want to celebrate.
English chemist Rosalind Franklin was a brilliant and dedicated scientist, but unfortunately, she is best known for the honor denied her: the 1962 Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA. Here are 15 facts about her.
1. SHE KNEW HER CALLING EARLY, BUT HER FATHER RESISTED EDUCATING A DAUGHTER.
Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born in London in 1920. She was one of five children born into a wealthy Jewish family. She decided she wanted to become a scientist at 15, and passed the admissions exam for Cambridge University. However, her father, Ellis, a merchant banker, objected to women going to college and refused to pay her tuition. Her aunt and mother finally managed to change his mind, and she enrolled at Cambridge's all-female Newnham College in 1938.
2. SHE ATTENDED COLLEGE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN WHO DIDN'T GET FULL CREDIT FOR HER WORK.
Bletchley Park cryptanalyst Joan Clarke was a few years older than Franklin, but they were both at Newnham in the late 1930s. Clarke would go on to be recruited for the war effort, cracking the German Enigma codes. The full scope of Clarke’s work is still unknown, due to government secrecy.
3. HER SCHOLASTIC ACHIEVEMENTS WERE DENIED BY HER UNIVERSITY FOR YEARS.
Azeira, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Despite Newnham College having been at Cambridge since 1871, the university refused to accept women as full members until 1948, seven years after Franklin earned the title of a degree in chemistry. Oxford University started granting women’s degrees in 1920.
4. HER RESEARCH ON COAL HELPED THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY.
After graduation, Franklin got a job at the British Coal Utilization Research Association (BCURA), where she researched coal and charcoal, and how it could be used for more than fuel. Her research formed the basis for her 1945 doctoral dissertation; it and several of her later papers on the micro-structures of carbon fibers played a role in the eventual use of carbon composites in air- and spacecraft construction.
5. HER MALE COLLEAGUES WERE HOSTILE AND UNDERMINED HER RESEARCH.
Franklin had a direct nature and was unwilling to be traditionally feminine. One reason she left Cambridge to work on coal was that her doctoral supervisor did not like her and believed women would always be less than men. When she was hired in 1951 at King’s College, London, to work on DNA, she clashed with researcher Maurice Wilkins, who had thought she was his assistant, not his equal. Meanwhile, Franklin was under the impression that she’d be completely independent. Their relationship got worse and worse the longer they worked together. Wilkins went so far as to share Franklin’s research without telling her with James Watson and Francis Crick—even though they were technically his competitors, funded by Cambridge University. Watson was particularly nasty about Franklin in his 1968 book, The Double Helix, criticizing her appearance and saying she had to be “put in her place.”
6. HOW EVENTS UNFOLDED IN THE DISCOVERY OF DNA'S STRUCTURE IS STILL DEBATED TODAY.
Many books have been written hashing over events, either criticizing Watson and Crick, saying they stole Franklin’s research, or defending the duo, saying her research helped them but that Franklin would not ultimately have reached their conclusions on her own. Though Franklin and Watson never became friendly, Crick and his wife welcomed Franklin into their home while she was being treated for ovarian cancer.
7. HER WORK MAY HAVE LED TO HER UNTIMELY DEATH.
Franklin died of cancer in 1958. She was 37. Though genetics likely played a part in her illness, her work with crystal x-ray diffraction, which involved constant exposure to radiation, did not help. She is not the first woman in science to risk her health for her research. Marie Curie died from aplastic anemia, which has been tied to radiation exposure. Many of Curie’s personal belongings, including her cookbooks, are too radioactive to handle even today.
8. HAD SHE LIVED LONGER, SHE MAY HAVE QUALIFIED FOR MORE THAN ONE NOBEL PRIZE.
Maurice Wilkins (on left), Francis Crick (third from left), and James Watson (fifth from left) accept their Nobel Prize in 1962.
Keystone, Getty Images
The first, of course, would have been awarded with Watson, Crick, and Wilkins, had they been made to share credit with her. (Pierre Curie had to ask the Nobel Committee to add his wife to the nomination in 1903.) As for the second, chemist Aaron Klug won the prize in 1982, carrying on work he and Franklin had started on viruses in 1953, after she left King’s College. Because of the rules at the time of her death about awarding prizes posthumously (and in 1974 all posthumous awards were eliminated, the sole exception being in 2011), Franklin has none.
9. DESPITE BEING DENIED HER PRIZE, SHE'S BEEN HONORED BY MANY ACADEMICS.
In 2004, the Chicago Medical School renamed itself the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. She has also had a number of academic programs, auditoriums, and labs named for her. In 2013, Newnham College principal Dame Carol Black helped install a plaque commemorating Franklin at the Eagle Pub in Cambridge. Crick and Watson, who already had a plaque in the pub, drank there often while working on the DNA project, and allegedly boasted about discovering “the secret of life” to other patrons.
10. SHE IS THE SUBJECT OF SEVERAL BIOGRAPHIES.
The first, 1975’s Rosalind Franklin and DNA, was written by her friend Anne Sayre, largely as a reaction to Watson’s The Double Helix. In 2002, Brenda Maddox published Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA.
11. AN OBJECT IN SPACE IS NAMED AFTER HER.
In 1997, amateur Australian astronomer John Broughton discovered an asteroid, which he named 9241 Rosfranklin.
12. AT LEAST ONE HISTORY RAP BATTLE IS ABOUT HER.
It was produced by seventh graders in Oakland, California (with some help from teacher Tom McFadden). And it is delightful.
13. SHE HAS BEEN IMMORTALIZED ON THE SMALL SCREEN AND THE BIG STAGE.
In 1987, BBC’s Horizon series aired The Race for the Double Helix, starring Juliet Stevenson as Franklin. Jeff Goldblum played Watson. In 2011, playwright Anna Ziegler premiered a one-act about Franklin called Photograph 51. It opened on the West End in 2015, starring Nicole Kidman as Franklin.
14. THE 2015 RUN OF PHOTOGRAPH 51 RE-IGNITED THE OLD CONTROVERSY.
While Kidman got much praise from critics for her turn as Franklin in Photograph 51, Maurice Wilkins’ friends and former colleagues have taken exception to a scene where Wilkins takes a photograph—the titular Photo 51, which showed evidence of DNA’s structure—from Franklin’s desk when she isn’t there, saying he would never have done something so dishonorable.
15. THE PLAY MAY COME TO THE BIG SCREEN IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS.
In 2016, the West End production’s director, Michael Grandage, told The Hollywood Reporter that he hopes to turn the play into a film, with Kidman reprising the role.
Julia Child was much more than just a bestselling cookbook author and chef. Over the course of her life, she was also a breast cancer survivor, a TV trailblazer, and a government spy. It's the famed chef's spy game that will be the focus of Julia, a new series being developed by ABC Signature and created by Benjamin Brand.
The project will draw its inspiration from Child's PBS program, Cooking for the C.I.A. “I was disappointed when I learned that in this case, the C.I.A. stood for the Culinary Institute of America,” Brand told Deadline. “Cooking Secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency always seemed like a more interesting show to me. Many years later, when I read a biography of Julia Child and learned about her experiences during World War II, working for the Office of Strategic Services—the precursor to the C.I.A.—the story of Julia quickly fell into place.”
Though Julia will be a work of fiction, here are 15 facts about the beloved cook.
1. SHE MET THE INVENTOR OF THE CAESAR SALAD WHEN SHE WAS A KID.
As a preteen, Julia Child traveled to Tijuana on a family vacation. Her parents took her to dine at Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, so that they could all try his trendy “Caesar salad.” Child recalled the formative culinary experience to The New York Times: “My parents were so excited, eating this famous salad that was suddenly very chic. Caesar himself was a great big old fellow who stood right in front of us to make it. I remember the turning of the salad in the bowl was very dramatic. And egg in a salad was unheard of at that point.” Years later, when she was a famous chef in her own right, Child convinced Cardini’s daughter, Rosa, to share the authentic recipe with her.
2. THE WAVES AND WACS REJECTED HER BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO TALL.
Like so many others of her generation, Child felt the call to serve when America entered World War II. There was just one problem: her height. At a towering 6'2", Child was deemed “too tall” for both the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC). But she was accepted by the forerunner to the CIA, which brings us to our next point.
3. SHE WAS A SPY DURING WORLD WAR II.
Child took a position at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was basically the CIA 1.0. She began as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division, where she worked directly for the head of the OSS, General William J. Donovan. But she moved over to the OSS Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, and then took an overseas post for the final two years of the war. First in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and later in Kunming, China, Child served as the chief of the OSS Registry. This meant she had top-level security clearance. It also meant she was working with Paul Child, the OSS officer she would eventually marry.
4. SHE HELPED DEVELOP A SHARK REPELLENT FOR THE NAVY.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
While Child was in the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, she helped the team in its search for a suitable shark repellent. Several U.S. naval officers had been attacked by the ocean predators since the war broke out, so the OSS brought in a scientist specializing in zoology and an anthropologist to come up with a fix. Child assisted in this mission, and recalled her experience in the book, Sisterhood of Spies: “I must say we had lots of fun. We designed rescue kits and other agent paraphernalia. I understand the shark repellent we developed is being used today for downed space equipment—strapped around it so the sharks won’t attack when it lands in the ocean.”
5. SHE GOT MARRIED IN BANDAGES.
Once the war ended, Paul and Julia Child decided to take a “few months to get to know each other in civilian clothes.” They met with family members and traveled cross-country before they decided to tie the knot. The wedding took place on September 1, 1946. Julia remembered being “extremely happy, but a bit banged up from a car accident the day before.” She wasn’t kidding; she actually had to wear a bandage on the side of her face for her wedding photos. The New York Review of Books has one of those pictures.
6. SHE WAS A TERRIBLE COOK WELL INTO HER 30S.
Child did not have a natural talent for cooking. In fact, she was a self-admitted disaster in the kitchen until she began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she and Paul lived for several years. Prior to her marriage, Child simply fed herself frozen dinners. It was probably the safest choice; one of her earliest attempts at cooking resulted in an exploded duck and an oven fire.
7. A LUNCH IN ROUEN CHANGED HER LIFE.
Child repeatedly credited one meal with spurring her interest in fine foods: a lunch in the French city of Rouen that she and Paul enjoyed en route to their new home in Paris. The meal consisted of oysters portugaises on the half-shell, sole meunière browned in Normandy butter, a salad with baguettes, and cheese and coffee for dessert. They also “happily downed a whole bottle of Pouilly-Fumé” over the courses.
8. IT TOOK HER NINE YEARS TO WRITE AND PUBLISH HER FIRST COOKBOOK.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking revolutionized home cooking when it was published in 1961—but the revolution didn't happen overnight. Child first began work on her famous tome in 1952, when she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The French women were writing a cookbook aimed at teaching Americans how to make French cuisine, and brought Child onboard as a third author. Nine years of research, rewrites, and rejections ensued before the book landed a publisher at Alfred A. Knopf.
9. SHE GOT FAMOUS BY BEATING EGGS ON BOSTON PUBLIC TELEVISION.
Child’s big TV break came from an unlikely source: Boston’s local WGBH station. While promoting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child appeared as a guest on the book review program I’ve Been Reading. But rather than sit down and discuss recipe semantics, Child started cracking eggs into a hot plate she brought with her. She made an omelette on air as she answered questions, and viewers loved it. The station received dozens of letters begging for more demonstrations, which led WGBH producer Russell Morash to offer Child a deal. She filmed three pilot episodes, which turned into her star-making show The French Chef.
10. ALL HER ESSENTIAL UTENSILS WERE KEPT IN A “SACRED BAG.”
According to a 1974 New Yorker profile, Child carried a large black canvas satchel known as the “sacred bag.” Rather than holy artifacts, it contained the cooking utensils she couldn’t live without. That included her pastry-cutting wheel, her favorite flour scoop, and her knives, among other things. She started using it when The French Chef premiered, and only entrusted certain people with its care.
11. SHE SURVIVED BREAST CANCER.
Child’s doctors ordered a mastectomy in the late 1960s after a routine biopsy came back with cancerous results. She was in a depressed mood following her 10-day hospital stay, and Paul was a wreck. But she later became vocal about her operation in hopes that it would remove the stigma for other women. She told TIME, “I would certainly not pussyfoot around having a radical [mastectomy] because it’s not worth it.”
12. HER MARRIAGE WAS WELL AHEAD OF ITS TIME.
As their meet-cute in the OSS offices would suggest, Paul and Julia Child had far from a conventional marriage (at least by 1950s standards). Once Julia’s career took off, Paul happily assisted in whatever way he could—as a taste tester, dishwasher, agent, or manager. He had retired from the Foreign Service in 1960, and immediately thrust himself into an active role in Julia’s business. The New Yorker took note of Paul’s progressive attitudes in its 1974 profile of Julia, noting that he suffered “from no apparent insecurities of male ego.” He continued to serve as Julia’s partner in every sense of the word until his death in 1994.
13. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN INDUCTED INTO THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA'S HALL OF FAME.
Child spent her early years working for what would become the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1993, she joined another CIA: the Culinary Institute of America. The group inducted Child into its Hall of Fame that year, making her the first woman to ever receive the honor.
14. SHE EARNED THE HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONORS FROM THE U.S. AND FRANCE.
Along with that CIA distinction, Child received top civilian awards from both her home country and the country she considered her second home. In 2000, she accepted the Legion D’Honneur from Jacques Pépin at Boston’s Le Méridien hotel. Just three years later, George W. Bush gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
15. HER KITCHEN IS IN THE SMITHSONIAN.
In 2001, Julia donated the kitchen that Paul designed in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Although it’s not possible to walk directly through it, there are three viewports from which visitors can see the high counters, wall of copper pots, and gleaming stove. Framed recipes, articles, and other mementos from her career adorn the surrounding walls—and, of course, there’s a television which plays her cooking shows on loop.