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.

America's Most Charitable States, Ranked

iStock.com/Steve Debenport
iStock.com/Steve Debenport

It may be the season of giving, but some people continue to spread cheer long after the holidays have ended. We’re looking at you, Minnesotans. As Thrillist reports, a new analysis by WalletHub ranks each state by its altruism, and Minnesota comes out on top, followed by Utah and New York.

Each state was awarded up to 100 points depending on how well it met 18 criteria in two main categories: volunteer efforts and charitable contributions. Doing a favor for a neighbor, donating money to non-profit organizations, or searching for “charitable donations” on Google were a few of the actions that landed certain states more points. Other factors taken into account were the number of public charities and Feeding America food banks per capita.

The results revealed that charitable giving doesn’t necessarily correspond with income. West Virginia’s residents, who have the lowest median household income of any state, are the 35th most charitable. Compare that with Hawaii, which has the third highest median household income but comes in at 46th on the list of charitable states.

Hover your cursor over the map below to see how your state ranks.

Source: WalletHub

No matter what state you live in, you should still give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve done a good deed recently. The U.S. is the fourth-most generous country in the world (after Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand), according to the World Giving Index [PDF].

Feeling inspired to give back? Use the Charity Navigator to research your options, and check our these six items you can donate, aside from cash.

[h/t Thrillist]

The Most Popular Christmas Candy in Each State

Halloween may have passed, but we’re approaching an almost equally exciting candy season. Yes, it’s time for candy canes, peppermint bark, holiday-colored M&Ms, and chocolate shaped like Santas and nutcrackers.

CandyStore.com, a bulk candy retailer, recently asked 30,000 of its customers to name their favorite Christmas candy, in order to determine how America’s sweet tooth varies from state to state. And vary it does.

While 10 different states profess to love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups the most (and why wouldn’t they), other states were more excited about Christmas-exclusive candies like peppermint bark (perhaps the only candy on the list that people might be enjoying a homemade version of) and candy canes. Eight states preferred candy canes, six preferred M&Ms, and five preferred the red, green, and white reindeer corn.

Some of the least popular candies on the list were PEZ (which was a favorite in eight states last year, but only three in this year’s rankings), chocolate Santas (a favorite in only North Dakota and Wyoming), and Skittles (which were no state’s absolute favorite, but showed up as a few states' second- or third-place choices). Reese’s Pieces, rather then peanut butter cups, showed up in just one state’s rankings (they are a favorite in Montana).

Explore the interactive map below, then check out the full rankings on CandyStore.com.

Source: CandyStore.com.

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