State Nicknames

On The Great American Roadtrip 2, my wife, Miranda Kopfschmertzen, and I passed through the state of Utah (where we hiked around Arches National Park, very cool). As we passed though to Utah via Interstate 70 from Colorado, I turned to my wife, Miranda Kopfschmertzen, and asked “Do you know what the nickname for Utah is?”

Most states have little nicknames to help you judge the temper of any given state. Most of these nicknames make some sort of sense or are at least derived from some historic something or another, silly as they may be. For instance, California is known as the “golden state.” This makes sense since California had the “gold” rush, its state flower is the “golden” poppy and most outsiders’ impression of California is the Baywatch styled beach lifestyle in the “golden” sun. That last one may be a stretch, but you have to accept the first two. Arizona is “The Grand Canyon State”; a bit obvious, but you can’t argue it. Delaware is “The First State.” That’s a fact, again no argument. Even Missouri’s “Show Me State” is acceptable. (The “Show Me State” monicker is attributed to Missouri Representative Willard Van Diver who it seems was wickedly stubborn. Not particularly genius, but two points for playing.) And there is always my personal favorite: New Jersey, “The Garden State.” This one is particularly hilarious, but has nothing to do with my list of acceptable state nicknames.

So, the answer to the $64,000 question, what is Utah’s nickname…”The Beehive State.” Now, unless you are a resident of Utah (Hi, Rachel!), I am guessing you are cocking your head slightly and thinking, “Wha…?” Now you are wracking your brain, “Have I ever heard ANY association between bees and Utah? Is my honey from Utah? Is that where the bee-beard guy lives?”

I was haunted by the origins of “The Beehive State” for the rest of the road trip. When I got home, before I even unpacked two weeks of dirty laundry I was on the Internet looking up “The Beehive State.” This is the reasoning I found:

The beehive became the official state emblem on March 4, 1959. Utahans relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance. The beehive was chosen as the emblem for the provisional State of Deseret in 1848 and was maintained on the seal of the State of Utah when Utah became a state in 1896.

I read this several times. I comprehended the paragraph on the first pass, but I couldn’t make the connection. I bookmarked the page and waited a few days. I went back to the site and re-read the paragraph. Nothing. I still can’t make the connection. So here’s what I propose. We (The United States as a whole) wipe all nicknames. Then we let all the other 49 states vote on a state’s nickname. We should be brutally honest with each other too. This way, we can all get a good sense of how we are viewed from the outside. Here are some ideas:

  • Utah
    • The Mormon State (Yeah, I said it!)
    • The Good Skiing State
    • The Johnny Utah State (Cash in on that Keanu tourist dollar!)
  • New Jersey
    • The Soprano State
    • The Friggin’ State
    • The Garden State (for the irony)
  • California (to be fair, even though I would not be allowed to vote)
    • The Hippie State
    • The No Smoking State
    • The Waiters Becoming Actors State

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