“Go ahead, AFFotD. Try to sound informed when you talk about us.”
~A weirdly smug Montana resident
It’s been a long, weird, occasionally rage inducing ride, but we’re nearing the end of our American States of America series where we tell you, the residents of individual states in America, what the most American quality of your home state is, no matter how much you disagree. Shut up Kansas, we don’t care what you have to say we’re sticking with Superman as your most American trait. Deal. When it comes to America, our word is gospel.
Except for Montana. We don’t have a goddamn clue what to say about Montana. But we made a promise, and that’s a promise we can keep. May Teddy Roosevelt’s ghost have mercy on our souls.
MONTANA: Admitted on November 8th, 1889
Describing Montana is a lot like that big term paper always on the horizon that you were woefully unprepared for. You keep thinking, “No it’s okay, we still got plenty of time to get ready, we don’t need to study yet, there’s two 40s and a game of Mario Kart Wii waiting for us right now.” And then next thing you know, it’s midnight, and you’re crushing Monster Energy drinks, desperately clicking the “Synonym” option on various words in copy/pasted wikipedia sentences, and you’ve long since lost track of the thesis you were trying to prove. Montana is the fourth largest state, but is the third least densely populated, and you’re probably surprised that they managed to crack the one million mark as far as population is concerned. They’ve got more Elk than any other state in the nation, as well as Ted Turner’s massive bison farm, but we’re not in the habit of giving animals credit for being American (at least not while they’re alive and not on a grill). So we’re going to pick one random city in Montana and view it as a microcosm for how American the entire state is.
That city is Butte, Montana. Yes, you may giggle at the name. Heh. Butte.
Butte, Montana only has a population of 34,200 (which is still enough to make it Montana’s fifth largest city) but they lead the way in Americanness, since they have no laws against having an open container of alcohol. That’s right, since Montana has no state-wide open liquor laws, Butte decided to shrug their shoulders and go “eh, you can get drunk wherever you want. We don’t mind.” This in itself is pretty American. But what makes it even more American? The last time someone tried to pass an open container law in Butte, it was “met with widespread opposition and was dropped.” So they don’t only let you drink in their streets, they’ll fight for your right to do so. And that’s wonderful.
WASHINGTON: Admitted on November 11th, 1889
Okay, yes, it’s right there in the name and the flag, and we admire the hell out of this state for (finally) naming itself after an American badass, as opposed to a combination of Native American terms, “New” versions of areas of other countries, or geographical descriptors. But to say that the name of Washington is the most American trait of this fine state would be a disservice to its many American industries. Washington is largely known for Seattle, which brought you grunge rock, Starbucks, and a tower that was built simply because we like tall, pointy things. But outside of Seattle, Washington is home to the second largest amount of wineries of any state (only trailing California), and it is the nation’s largest producer of apples, raspberries (with 90% of America’s output), peppermint and spearmint oil, and sweet cherries. Of course, they also lead the nation in producing one extremely important American crop.
Washington is responsible for 75% of the nation’s hops.
To put it bluntly, if it weren’t for Washington, many of us would not be able to drink beer (or at least as much beer as we need to drink to keep our identity as Americans). The last time there was a hop shortage, the price up beer went up at least a dollar per six pack, so Washington’s role in getting us drunk cannot be overstated. They grow our beer, or at least grow one of the main ingredients used by just about every brewery in America. We honestly can’t think of a finer tribute to George Washington. Well, except for maybe this.
IDAHO: Admitted on July 3rd, 1890
Statistically speaking, Idaho is responsible for more Americans going, “…Wait, where the hell is that state again? I’m not in front of a map” than any other state. We’re not saying that one of our staff members once talked to a guy from Boise while at a $3 blackjack table in Las Vegas’ Casino Royale, all we’re saying is that if that had happened, apparently the response to, “Oh, you’re from Boise? So you drove down here, right? Pretty easy trip?” is, “Uh, no. I didn’t. It’s a ten hour drive…” before they abruptly leave the table without even a “nice to meet you.” And, let’s be honest, at least half of you just read that and said, “No shit, a ten hour drive from Idaho to Nevada? Huh.”
Idaho is known as the “Gem State” since nearly every type of gemstone can be found there, including the star garnet, which isn’t particularly impressive apart from the fact that the only other place in the world you can find that is India. Idaho also has the funniest name of any state in the nation, which we remember because one time in the late 90’s Jay Leno read a news story as a joke, and his punchline was “she was from I-da-HO. You see, it’s funny, because ho is like a term for whore, so we’re saying she’s loose, but it’s also the name of the state” and then he sort of bobbled his chin left and right a few times before driving off in a sports car. However, that might not be particularly far from the truth—the first mention of Idaho came from lobbyist George M. Willing in the 1860’s, who claimed it was based on a word in the Shoshone language, before admitting that he just made up the name for the fuck of it. Ha. I-da-HO. Classic Leno.
Of course, when you think of Idaho, one major crop comes to mind. Potatoes. Only the goddamn starchy tuber that runs this goddamn nation’s culinary dreams. Nearly one third of the potatoes that are grown in America come from Idaho, and while it seems like a boring thing to put your hat on, especially when your state name is a 150 year old prank to make all your residents call themselves hos on a daily basis, you might be forgetting the amazingness of the potato. Not only could a human being survive indefinitely eating only potatoes doused in butter, but without potatoes, we wouldn’t have French Fries. Or potato chips. Or just about at least half of your favorite bar foods. So never disparage the potato, because the potato gives and keeps giving. And Idaho gives us potatoes.
Oh also, this exists in Idaho. So you’re welcome for that as well.
WYOMING: Admitted on June 10th, 1890
Nice try, Wyoming. You thought you’d be able to stump us. The least populous state in the nation, the second least densely populated state (we see you, Alaska, we see you), and a state that most people only know for a giant chunk of preserved nature that has nothing to do with Teddy Roosevelt? You think we’d fall for the old Yellowstone trap, Wyoming? Hell no! You think we’d even take the easy layup on how Wyoming has only one professional sports team (a professional indoor football team called the Wyoming Calvary) or, hell, we could talk about how the Cheyenne Frontier Days is the largest outdoor rodeo in the entire nation.
But instead we’re about to drop some knowledge on you, because Wyoming gave us Little America, and Little America knows exactly how to pander to our American sensibilities.
Little America, Wyoming is an actual, honest to god location.
Little America was founded when a rancher found himself stranded in a remote part of Wyoming during a blizzard. He decided then and there that, if he were to make enough money, he would open a hotel on that very spot as an oasis for travelers where no other lodging could be found for miles (since, you know. Wyoming). Founded in 1934, it provided fuel pumps, a café, and rooms for weary travelers. It was named after the Little America station in Antarctica, and as a result of this homage the South Pole station at one point sent over a penguin, which served as the mascot for the hotel. Of course, this being a penguin being shipped over the goddamn equator, it didn’t exactly “survive” the trip, so the penguin was stuffed and can still be seen on display to this very day. Since then, the Wyoming location has expanded to 140 rooms, with a 55-pump filling station that, at one point, was the largest in the world. There are now numerous Little America locations in Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, but the original location stands proud as a beacon of America for all weary travelers.
And that is how you handle Wyoming.
UTAH: Admitted on January 4th, 1896
The origin of Utah is deeply rooted in the history of the Mormon Church. After Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, Brigham Young led an exodus of Mormons to the Salt Lake Valley, and to this day Mormonism has deep roots in the state. That makes things awkward for us, because Mormons don’t drink alcohol, and tend to be almost eerily normal. And as we’ve always said, you can never trust a teetotaler.
But despite the distressing percentage of sobriety in the state, and their frustrating liquor laws, Utah still has at least one thing it can rest it’s American laurels on. Utah is where people go to go very fast for no particular reason.
The Bonneville Speedway is a name given to an area of the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah, and it’s essentially a mix between “speedway” and “unregulated speed orgy.” People go to Utah just to lay down some track and try to set speed records for no other reason than to say something like “I was the first person to drive an electric motorcycle faster than 100 MPH” or “I have a death wish.” While the Speedway lets you set up your own track and basically “do whatever you want, you freaking psychopaths” some intrepid Americans even go so far as to race off-track on the salt flats, which is one of the few things that combines words like “reach speeds of 400-500+ mph” with “the salt is somewhat slick, maintaining traction is a major concern.”
So if you want to travel 1000 MPH somewhere, Utah is probably the place to go. And if you want strap a rocket to a skateboard and see how fast you can go? Well, yeah, Utah’s the place to go.
Believe it or not, America, we’ve almost closed out this segment. There are just five states left itching to have their Americanness confirmed by AFFotD, the first and final word on things American. It’s been a long run, and soon we can go back to our roots of talking about fatty foods and booze that make people with no sense of humor roll their eyes.