In observance of a long-standing Sunday-afternoon tradition, Esteban just read me last week’s News of the Weird. Among the usual stupidity was a brief about a momentous decision the Wisconsin legislature is facing: whether to designate Lactococcus lactis as the state’s official bacterium. The Weird News column went on to say that,
If approved, the bacterium would join two dozen other state symbols: coat of arms, seal, motto, flag, song, flower, bird, tree, fish, state animal, wildlife animal, domestic animal, mineral, rock, symbol of peace, insect, soil, fossil, dog, beverage, grain, dance, ballad, waltz, fruit and tartan.
Yup, the legislators in Wisconsin have apparently been very busy dubbing official symbols. Anyone care to guess what the official fossil of the state of Wisconsin might be? It’s the trilobite. Yeah, I know it was on the tip of your tongue.
Anyway … I was planning on poking a bit of good-natured fun at the cheeseheads next door — until I looked up the official symbols for my adopted state. Imagine my horror when I discovered that in 1988 my elected officials almost designated the Giant Beaver (Castoroides ohioensis) as the Minnesota state fossil. We never would have lived that one down.
There are lots more “also rans,” too: a frog, two beers, an amusement ride, a book, a bug, and a parasite. Who would name an official parasite? Apparently we leech-loving Minnesotans, that’s who.
There’s a lot to be said for celebrating an area’s history and folklore, and for acknowledging its natural splendors. But naming an official soup, dog or parasite? Surely our legislators jest!