But, More Importantly, Do We Have a State Munchkin?

BostonCream.jpgRecently, I needed to look up "Boston cream pie" on Wikipedia. Sometimes, these things just happen. Wikipedia informed me that the pie, which is really a cake, was created at Boston's Parker House Hotel in the 1850s. But, on the same page, I found something even more interesting. I learned that the Boston cream doughnut is the official state doughnut of Massachusetts.

Wait a minute. We have a state doughnut? When did we get a state doughnut and why wasn't I informed of this? At any rate, Homer Simpson would clearly be proud. Now that we have a state doughnut, is there any doubt that the real Springfield of "The Simpsons" is the one in Massachusetts?

I'm sure you're wondering how such a decision is taken. Do we go by sales figures? Was there a state ballot initiative that I somehow missed? Or did somebody just poll a bunch of state troopers? No, the answer turns out to be quite simple. A motion was passed by the state legislature. I'm particularly proud that it was my state senator who originally introduced the motion, which was passed in 2003. I knew there was a reason I voted for him, though personally I feel bad for all the other doughnuts that were passed over.

"Mr. Speaker, I would also like to recognize on behalf of the Commonwealth the fine contributions of the butter crunch doughnut."

Massachusetts has many other official symbols. In case they're all out of Boston creams at your neighborhood Dunkin' Donuts (Official Food Establishment that Happens to Be on Every Freakin' Block of Massachusetts), the corn muffin is the official state muffin. Meanwhile, the official soil of the Commonwealth is the "Paxton Soil Series," narrowly beating out dirt, which would have been my choice. And just to be on the safe side, we also have four different state rocks, you know, in case we lose one.

Massachusetts is the only state with an official doughnut, a dubious distinction at best. However, most states have a long list of official items. For example, 27 states have a state beverage, and 18 of these have chosen milk. The fine state of Nebraska has two state beverages: milk and Kool-Aid. Hopefully, they are not served together. And then there's Indiana, whose official beverage is water. Whoa, way to go out on a limb, Indiana!

Many states have an insect as well, though it's usually some form of a butterfly. Nobody ever chooses the mosquito or cockroach. For Massachusetts, it's the ladybug. Just to show us up, New York went and chose the Nine-Spotted Ladybug as their state insect. I imagine Massachusetts will soon get out a magic marker and come up with the Ten-Spotted Ladybug just so we can say we beat the New Yorkers.

As you can see from all this, Wikipedia is a wonderful repository of information way to waste an afternoon. A few years ago, there was a study claiming that Wikipedia was more accurate than the Encyclopædia Britannica. This may even have been true, that is, until some bitter Britannica editors took matters into their own hands and made a few adjustments to Wikipedia. ("Oh yeah! Let's make Madrid the capital of Sri Lanka. And what if we say the llama is the world's biggest insect? Screw you, Wikipedia!")

But it's not accuracy that makes Wikipedia so special. It is the sheer depth of the knowledge. Wikipedia is just like any other encyclopedia, if that encyclopedia happened to have entries on all your favorite weathermen and reality TV stars. The Encyclopædia Britannica has its place, but I bet Britannica couldn't tell you that Massachusetts has an official polka -- "Say Hello to Someone from Massachusetts." (Uh, hi.)

And I doubt it would be able to tell you that Massachusetts also has an official folk dance, which is the square dance. After all, there's nothing Bay Staters (official designation) like better than a good square dance. Boston cream doughnuts, Red Sox baseball, crazy drivers flipping off other crazy drivers, and some old-fashioned square dancing! It doesn't get any better than that! Let's all make it in Massachusetts!
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