Most Distinctive Last Names by State

According to the most recent publicly available U.S. Census data from the year 2000, the five most common last names in the United States are Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, and Jones. But what are the regional variations? While the Census Bureau breaks out each last name by race and ethnicity, it doesn’t provide a count by state. There are other data sources, however. In 2014 Ancestry.com ran the numbers from their own database, and compiled the top three most common last names by state. With the exception of the Southwest states and Hawaii, the top few names nationwide tended to also dominate the state-specific rankings.

However, another way to uncover regional differences at the state level is to calculate the most distinctive last name by state. Using a methodology similar to the “Most Distinctive Obituary Euphemism for 'Died' in Each State” map, I calculated the difference between the state and national prevalence of each of the top 250 last names nationwide, based on Social Security Administration data. The highest value gives the last name that is most distinctive to that state.

By and large, the results are reflective of each state’s demographics and immigration history. In New England and Appalachia, Irish and English names dominate (Walsh, Sullivan, Payne). In the Midwest and Mountain States, German and Scandinavian names are common (Jensen, Snyder, Carlson). In California, Florida, and the Southwest, it's Latino names (Lopez, Hernandez, Gonzalez). New York and New Jersey’s Jewish communities also show up (Cohen, Schwartz, Hoffman).

To see the top five names for each state and for more about the methods and sources used to create this map, visit this post at SimonKnowz.com.

A Handy Map of All the Royal Residences in the UK

Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Somewhere along the way, you probably learned that Buckingham Palace is home to the ruler of the United Kingdom and many unflinching, fancily clad guards. And, if you watch The Crown or keep a close eye on royal family news, you might recognize the names of other estates like Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

But what about Gatcombe Park, Llwynywermod, or any of the other royal residences? To fill in the gaps of your knowledge, UK-based money-lending site QuickQuid created a map and corresponding illustrations of all 20 properties, and compiled the need-to-know details about each place.

quickquid map of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip kept eight estates for themselves, and divvied up the rest among their children and grandchildren, some of whom have purchased their own properties, too. Though Buckingham Palace is still considered the official residence of the Queen, she now splits most of her time between Windsor Castle and other holiday homes like Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House, which Prince Philip is responsible for maintaining.

quickquid illustration of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Windsor shares its grounds with two other properties: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s home, Frogmore House, and the Royal Lodge, where Prince Andrew (the Queen’s second youngest child) lives.

illustration of frogmore house
QuickQuid

Southwest of Windsor is Highgrove House, Prince Charles’s official family home with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. They also own Birkhall in Scotland, Clarence House in London, Tamarisk House on the Isles of Scilly, and the aforementioned Llwynywermod in Wales. Much like the Queen herself does, Charles and Camilla basically have a different house for each region they visit.

illustration of highgrove house
QuickQuid

In 2011, the Queen gave Anmer Hall—which is on the grounds of Sandringham House—to Prince William and Kate Middleton as a wedding gift, but they’ve recently relocated to Kensington Palace so Prince George could attend school in London.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s only daughter, Anne, resides in Gatcombe Park with her daughter, Zara Tindall. Anne also owns St. James’s Palace in London, where her niece (Princess Beatrice of York) and her mother’s cousin (Princess Alexandra) sometimes live.

Lastly there's Edward, Elizabeth and Philip's youngest son, who lives with his wife in Bagshot Park, which architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called “bad, purposeless, [and] ugly.”

illustration of bagshot park
QuickQuid

If you’re feeling particularly cramped in your tiny one-bedroom apartment (or even regular-sized house) after reading about the royal family’s overabundance of real estate, take solace in the knowledge that at least you’ll never have to follow their strict fashion rules.

Find Out Which Halloween Candy Is Most Popular in Your State

Astor Mars via Candystore.com
Astor Mars via Candystore.com

As a child, the thought of sorting your candy stash after a trick-or-treating marathon probably distracted you just enough so that your parents could force you into a thick turtleneck underneath your Halloween costume. While your position on dressing appropriately for the weather may have changed since then, you've likely retained your opinions about which Halloween candy is the best … or worst.

To find out how people’s hot takes on sweet treats differ across the nation, CandyStore.com analyzed their sales data from the last 12 years to reveal the top-selling candy brand in each state.

Unlike with gas station coffee, there aren’t any obvious regional trends when it comes to Halloween candy. Skittles, the overall bestseller, also took the top spot in an impressive seven states, which included Florida, Minnesota, Hawaii, and California. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups followed closely with five states, hopping from North Carolina to Kansas and beyond.

Some classic candy brands were conspicuous only by their scarcity—Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger, Kit Kat, and Hershey’s Mini Bars only won one or two states apiece, and 3 Musketeers finished with zero. Cinnamon-y Hot Tamales ran away with a gobsmacking four states (New York, Indiana, Arizona, and Virginia), while salt water taffy took three: Washington, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

CandyStore.com also compiled lists of the best and worst Halloween candies, based on 30,000 customer surveys as well as rankings from Business Insider, Bon Appétit, and more. However, it seems that some people’s opinions don’t match what they’re actually buying. Nerds, which came in at number six on the best list, didn’t make it on the map even once.

Candy corn, the sickeningly saccharine blend of sugar, honey, dextrose, and corn syrup that everybody loves to hate, was unsurprisingly rated the number one worst Halloween confectionery. But five states—Iowa, Idaho, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Nevada—purchase it more than any other candy.

Hungry for more knowledge about your fun-sized snack of choice? Find out how 25 Halloween candies got their names here.

[h/t CandyStore.com]

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