“Oh, Chicago? Al Capone! Ratt-att-att! Michael Jordon! Swoosh!”
~Foreigners upon hearing the word “Illinois”
We’ve spent the last 6,000 words on this site devoted to each and every slice of Americana as represented by the American traits of every American state. It’s not been an easy journey. After our half-hearted endorsement of Mississippi, someone snuck into our office and started putting antifreeze into our coffee maker in an effort to poison our staff. Luckily for us, the treatment of antifreeze poisoning is alcohol, and we’ve literally never had a cup of coffee that wasn’t at least 50% whiskey, but we still have come to recognize that you’re not going to please everyone when you set out to find the most American quality of each state. Except for Rhode Islanders. They were actually surprisingly pleased that we gave them a solid 350 words. We think they were lonely and just thankful for the attention.
So, we continue onward, marching from the states we all are intimately familiar with all the way through Wyoming. Do you know anyone from Wyoming? Didn’t think so. But you do know someone from the following state.
ILLINOIS: Admitted on December 3rd, 1818
When people think of Illinois they think of Chicago, because they’ve seen The Dark Knight, they always loved Michael Jordan in Space Jam, and Obama’s from there or something. While it’s not entirely fair to sum up Illinois through a city that demographically is surprisingly different than the rest of the state, the Chicago metropolitan area is responsible for about 75% of the state’s population, and besides, while it might be news to you that Peoria smells really bad, you’re expecting us to focus on Chicago, and Chicago doesn’t disappoint.
Because Chicago will get you fat.
Chicago is a world class city, boasting the nation’s most beautiful skyline, a vibrant nightlife, and an improve comedy scene that’s given you many of your favorite comedic actors, from Stephen Colbert to people who don’t even talk about America for a living. But none of that holds a candle to Chicago’s unflinching focus on making delicious, thoroughly unhealthy foods to stuff your arteries with goodness.
Chicago perfected the hot dog, making a tube of beef so delicious that you actually prefer the casing be made out of intestine so you can get that satisfying “snap” with each bite. They invented a style of pizza that upgraded the dish from “unhealthy snack” to “fulfilling meal that you can’t finish in one sitting.” And they will serve you Italian Beef, a roast beef sandwich that decided that the only way to make fatty meat taste even better is to dump it into a vat of meat juice. Every Chicagoan, and most Illinoisans, have had all of these foods in the same day. The fact that they can do that without their hearts exploding is a true testament to how American Illinois truly is.
ALABAMA: Admitted on December 14th, 1819
There’s a lot we can say about Alabama. We really want to talk about fireworks stands, because Alabama is just lousy with them. If you want fireworks, you go to Alabama and you can thank us later. And we were going to write about that, until we remembered Nick Saban.
Nick Saban scares us. We’re almost certain he’s a shape-shifter, and we’re pretty sure he’s immortal. Let’s just put it this way—have you ever seen Nick Saban bleed his own blood? You haven’t, right? Not even close, right? When we’re dealing with an immortal warlock, we have to bow to his wishes, and Nick Saban wants Alabama’s most American quality to be recognized as its love of College Football.
We can’t really argue against it. People in Alabama love their college football, and that’s incredibly American. You’re watching young men in the prime of their lives destroying their bodies, and while they entertain us without earning a single penny, you can profit off their misery if you place the right bets. There’s something beautiful about that, if you think about it. And Alabama has both Auburn and Alabama as teams that represent the state, and that rivalry is so heated it makes people poison trees.
What’s that? Nick Saban isn’t pleased that we mentioned Auburn just then? Oh…oh shit. Shit, we’re sorry. We’re so sorry. Please don’t turn us into an oak tree and poison us like you did those missing members of the AP! Please!
MAINE: Admitted on March 15th, 1820
Maine, the most Northeastern part of America, is the home of LL Bean and Alagash beer, both of which are sufficiently American enough to make this list. But instead, we’re going to focus on something that’s so delicious and American it’s warranted a 4,000 word exposé on this very site—Maine Lobster.
As we’ve said, lobsters are theoretically immortal monsters (seriously, they don’t age, they simply grow until they die of injury or disease) that we trap in steel cages at the bottom of the sea so we can boil them alive and douse their meat with melted butter. And, you never question this, but you’re using product that came from a cow to make your sea monster even more delicious than it already is. Goddamn!
Maine of course is known for their lobster, and for good reason—you’ve had lobster, you’ve had good lobster, hell, you’ve even had great lobster, but if you had to choose one state to get a lobster meal from (or a lobster roll, drool) you’d hop on the first plane to Maine. There’s a reason why “American Lobster” is called Maine Lobster, after all.
MISSOURI: Admitted on August 10th, 1821
Missouri is the most surprising state to have two separate cities with major league sports franchises, mainly because a fair amount of people tend to assume that Kansas City is in, you know, Kansas instead of being the largest city in the state of Missouri. Hey, we’re Americans, we’re not expected to be good at geography. But we are good at barbecue, and both St. Louis and Kansas City both know how to knock that out of the park.
We, as a nation, love meat. Vegetarians and vegans don’t count because they’re not real people, they’re sort of like the people inside the Matrix that turn into Agent Smith when they spot Neo on the run. And for a lot of meat, the only way you can make it better it to slather it in delicious sauce and cook the shit out of it. Missouri has no problem taking the horns on that one, with both St. Louis and Kansas City barbecue utilizing a whole mess of tomato and molasses-based sauce. Hell, St. Louis consumes more barbecue sauce per capita than any other city in the nation.
Of the two styles, Kansas City-style barbecue is the most famous and unique. While they slather the hell out of meat, they don’t limit themselves to pork or beef—Kansas City will barbecue everything from pork to fish to mutton. If it once had a pulse, Kansas City will douse it in a sweet, spicy, tangy sauce and slow cook it for your pleasure.
We know, we know. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it ourselves.
ARKANSAS: Admitted on June 15th, 1836
When we say Arkansas to someone not from the state, the first two things that come to mind usually are “Bill Clinton” and “Razorbacks,” though we think it’s a little rude to call Paula Jones that. She wasn’t that bad. While it is pretty American to have the nation’s only president to face censure proceedings because of a blowjob from a chunky chick, Arkansas is also home to one of the more American stores (that may or may not steal just a tiny bit of your soul every time you walk in there to further lower their prices) out there—Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart is one of those love-it-or-leave it corporations that exemplifies American Capitalism. On one hand, they promise to employ every American military veteran that applies for a job there, they’re the third largest corporation in the world, and their incredibly low prices are a saving grace to many of America’s families that are toeing the poverty line. On the other hand, they tend to shut down small businesses, they have a history of not treating their employees particularly well, and they sometimes build on top of Indian burial grounds. We actually support that last part, because we ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but no matter where you stand on the issue, Wal-Mart is the defining American corporation, and really where else are you going to be able to buy XXL zubaz pants and a box of Slim Jim at three in the morning? That’s right, nowhere else but Wal-Mart, the land of low prices and, erm, unique clientele.
That wraps up part five of this series. Stay tuned for the rest of our series, which will involve some frantic googling whenever we get to Montana.