The United States of America is undeniably a massive country; a colorful patchwork of different climates, landscapes, and ways of life. Given the “50 Nifty’s” uniqueness, mention of each state tends to evoke certain cultural references that its residents may or not be so ready to stop talking about already. Find out what made the list for your state!
1. Alabama – Roll Tide
Down in Alabama, one of the first things that comes to mind is a common phrase people use called ‘Roll Tide!’ This could mean just about anything, from a greeting to a departure, and it’s usually followed by a fist in the air. It’s also the rallying call used by fans cheering on varsity athletics teams at the University of Alabama. Sometimes, the meaning of Roll Tide can have a more literal interpretation too.
When fans aren’t supporting ‘The Tide’ in the stands at a game, they often enjoy rolling with the tide – literally – like the man and his rather interesting looking raft pictured here. A true Alabamian knows that Roll Tide isn’t only about supporting your team, it’s about embracing the tide out in the water.
2. Alaska – Bears
If you had to close your eyes and think of Alaska, what would be the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s hunting in the wilderness, building log cabins or freezing cold temperatures. Alaska is famous for its wildlife, with a brown and grizzly bear population collectively upward of 60,000 individuals. While it’s not necessarily commonplace, grizzly bears wrestling it out in the middle of the road is actually something that has been seen in the Union’s 49th state.
Looking at this photo, you would think that in rather unusual scenarios like this, the first instinct would be to run away and fast. Although the onlookers in the background don’t seem too worried. After all, a grizzly bear fight sounds like a fairly reasonable excuse for being late for work in America’s biggest state, right?
3. California – Surfing
Surfing and California is a combination that goes together like peanut butter and jelly. In California, you’ll be sure to find plenty surfing fanatics along any shore. Can you even say you’re from California if you haven’t grabbed a surfboard and hung ten at least once?
Even though inclement weather is known to hit California from time to time, conditions in the Golden State, especially SoCal, are also famously inclined for outdoor activities. So when the weather is good and the tide is high, nothing will get in the way of a surfer dude or dudette setting out to hit the waves.
4. Colorado – The Rocky Mountains
When you think of Colorado, what do you imagine? For most people, the Rocky Mountains come to mind. The scenic range has all kinds of great wildlife, from mountain goats to moose and black bears. Far more than just a common state cliché, over three million people are reported to visit the spectacular Rockies each year.
While you’re unlikely to run into a species like the one pictured during an afternoon hiking session, the 3,000-mile mountain range actually runs in the north from British Columbia, Canada to Colorado’s southern neighbor, New Mexico. On that note, we’re going to go pop on a John Denver tune and envision the great expanse of the wild outdoors.
5. Florida – Alligators
Florida seems to have it all and everybody wants a piece. Popularly known as a top choice for retirees who flock to the Sunshine State to live out their golden years in tropical temperatures and sunny rays, the state is also an infamously popular haunt for alligators and crocodiles.
It can get pretty hot in the peninsular state, so naturally, pools are common staple to Florida living. It’s not all fun and game though, as pool-goers may run into some unexpected company on their way to a relaxing dip. Just make sure sure to check below you before driving in. Hey, gators deserve some R&R too!
6. Georgia – Peaches
One of the first things to come to mind when Georgia is brought up are their peaches. Peaches grown in Georgia are famous for their superior flavor, texture, appearance and nutritious qualities, like the Clingstone and Freestone peach. There’s even a Peach County in Georgia! The Southern state is also known for its sweet tea, a popular beverage that is made by adding sugar and syrup to black tea and almost always served icy cold.
In fact, a popular way to determine whether or not an area can be considered part of the South is by determining the availability of sweet tea in restaurants. So if the peaches are delicious and you can order sweet tea, you know that you’re in Georgia.
7. Hawaii – Volcanoes
Known for its tropic wonders and pristine beaches that are akin to paradise on Earth, the island nation of Hawaii also evokes another natural wonder – volcanoes. With its last eruption in 2018, Kilauea is arguably the most famous of the volcanoes that make up America’s 50th State.
In fact, the rivers of molten lava that spew out of Kilauea into the Pacific Ocean have add significant land mass to Hawaii’s Big Island each year. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, lava flow has added 570 acres since 1983. That can be bad news for any vegetation or man-made structures in the way. So just keep that in mind.
8. Idaho – Potatoes
This one is probably a no brainer, but the state of Idaho is basically synonymous with potatoes. The Famous Idaho Potato is even a registered trademark of the state. While most Americans are familiar with the specific brand of ‘taters’ commonly found in pantries across the country, there more than the standard use for them. One popular dessert is the state even incorporates the famous food – grilled potato ice cream. Yum?!
Spuds are so popular in Idaho that the state actually produces about 13 billion pounds-worth a year. Apart from the great potatoes, there’s also plenty of wineries, onions and sugar beet farms in the northwestern state. Farm tours also happen to be rated as top attractions in Idaho.
9. Illinois – Deep Dish Pizza
Mention of Illinois usually immediately conjures thoughts of Chicago. Reference to the Windy City are then therefore typically associated with Illinois’ most popular (albeit not its capital) city’s claim the culinary fame: Chicago-style pizza. The famously deep-dish style of Chicago pizza is baked in a pan with mouth-wateringly high crusted edges is the perfect hearty dish to get through those frigid winters on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Of course, Illinois’ legacy boasts much more than the delectable pizza that more resembles a savory cake of cheesy goodness than the typical pizza pie. The state was also the residence of three U.S. presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Barack Obama – at the the time of their election. And to all that great history, we raise a slice of Chicago-style to you, Illinois!
10. Kansas – Tornadoes
When it comes to Kansas, people seriously need to stop with the Wizard of Oz jokes. As you can imagine, they have been done to death and Kansas residents have heard just about all of them. You aren’t the first one to mention that we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
That being said, the weather can get pretty crazy in the Midwestern. It’s seemingly raining one day, sunny the next and snowing later on. The state also gets its fair share of tornadoes, although it’s not a daily occurrence for every resident. Honestly, if it’s a windless day in Kansas, something probably isn’t right?
11. Kentucky – KFC
When people think of Kentucky, Kentucky Fried Chicken almost instantly comes to mind. KFC started in Kentucky, in case that wasn’t obvious, and the Colonel is real. That’s right, Colonel Sanders developed his secret fried chicken recipe out of a roadside service station in Corbin, Kentucky. The chicken’s recipe remains super-secret even today and its kept under lock and key at the KFC headquarters in Louisville.
KFC arguably tastes better in its home state, but it’s certainly not the only thing to enjoy in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky is also known for another finger lickin’ food called the ‘Hot Brown’ which is made up of toasted bread, turkey bacon, tomatoes and topped with Mornay sauce.
12. Massachusetts – Extreme Weather
Massachusetts may not always be this cold, but when there is snow, it comes in layers. The state is known to experience extreme temperatures from time to time and gets a number of storms, tornadoes and hurricanes over the course of a year.
If you find your tongue in a knot when you’re trying to say Massachusetts, try writing it down. Spelling it out is not as hard as people make it out to be. Just remember – two s’s first then two t’s at the end. Also make sure to wear your warmest coat over here in the wintertime, because there’s a good chance that you’ll get caught in a ‘wicked stawm’ along the way.
13. Mississippi – Southern Hospitality
Southern hospitality is known as the name of the game in Mississippi, where friendliness is thought of running through the heart of its people. Within seconds of being in the beautiful Magnolia State, you’ll likely find yourself surrounded by all the southern charm and hospitality that you thought only existed in the history books.
Mississippi is known to embrace a soulful life. The state has its share of delicious food, like cornbread and catfish regularly appearing on the dinner table. What’s more soulful than soul food? So enjoy all the southern comfort food you can get your hands on and you don’t have permission to leave the table until you indulge in the famous Mississippi mud pie.
14. Missouri – Monster Trucks
If you’re a fan of monster trucks, Missouri is the place to be. In fact, it’s home to the original Bigfoot monster truck, so you’re bound to see a lot of them here. But we bet a monster school bus is something you don’t see every day. If you’re on the road driving a regular car, it may be a little hard to concentrate with wheels that big in front of you.
With school buses like this though, you’d probably never need to worry about being late because of a puncture. On a more practical note, since we’re talking about school after all – how do school kids make it all the way onto that bus with a height like that? Do all the buses come with complimentary step ladders?
15. Nevada – Illegal Activities
The first thing that comes to mind when Nevada is mentioned is Vegas. It’s safe haven for all sorts of temptation. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? But do you want to know a weird fact about Nevada? Freshwater crayfish are banned in the state. Since Nevada is in the desert, it doesn’t exactly sound like a prime location for crayfish anyway.
With a lot of things legal in Vegas, that aren’t legal in most places, it begs the question: What have crayfish done to people in Nevada? Apparently, state officials say the reason for this is that if live crayfish got into Nevada waters, it could endanger the native fish population. Maybe it’s a good idea to avoid the seafood altogether and just enjoy the entertainment in Vegas.
16. New Jersey – Jersey Shore
When it comes to New Jersey, nothing compares to Jersey pride. It’s that combination of feelings you get when you can’t wait to go down to the ‘shore’, hit the diner for a Taylor ham, egg and cheese, then rock out with your friends to some Bon Jovi classics.
Before you hit the club in New Jersey, pay close attention to the dress code. If you want to make it through the door looking your absolute best, you’ll need a good tan, a buttoned-down shirt and lots of hair gel. You’ll also get extra photo-cred striking a pose over smiling and if you want to make yourself stand out even more, include some overt hand gestures.
17. New Mexico – Roswell
While many Netflix enthusiasts credit the hit AMC series Breaking Bad for placing New Mexico on the map when it comes to pop culture references, another popular TV show predated the state’s onscreen narcotics legacy with what’s arguably the first thing many think about when it comes to New Mexico. Of course, we’re talking about the 90s-era WB sci-fi drama Roswell. The namesake of one of the most famous sites in the state.
The small city of Roswell, New Mexico gained out-of-this-world acclaim after a 1947 U.S. Air Force balloon crash spurred incessant talk of supposed UFO incidents in the nearby desert. Fuelling emotions, and not to mention tourism, Roswell is home to the International UFO Museum And Research Center.
18. New York – $1 Pizza Slice
New York is always a great place to visit with lots to do and plenty to see. The Statue of Liberty and Times Square are great, but do you know what’s also a staple of that Big Apple living? Grabbing yourself a pizza slice straight out of a truck for just one dollar.
You can get lots of tasty pizza around New York, whether you choose to enjoy it from a restaurant or straight out of a pizza truck if you’re on the move. We’re not sure how it compares to Italian pizza, but you may not get a better bargain for one dollar than this.
19. North Carolina – BBQ
Ask anybody from North Carolina resident which style of barbecue is the best and you’ll get a lot of different responses. Is it the Eastern or Lexington barbecue? It’s a serious debate over here, and you better pick a side. Come hungry and stack your plate high with meat, together with a side of meat.
On the topic of all things delicious, something else worth mentioning are the biscuits, and gravy is the topping of choice. There are tons of places around the state where you can get a tasty biscuit and gravy, but for the most creative takes, head to Biscuit Head in Asheville, where guests can try several different tastes in a single sitting. You may never want to try or eat a biscuit anywhere else.
20. Oregon – Hipsters
Oregonians are known to always find the trend before it’s cool and are super proud of it. When it comes to Oregon you’ll find the hipster lifestyle to be a pretty common thing. Did you know that Portland is ranked the second most hipster city in the world? Well, now you do.
Until you’ve been to the place where mustaches, skinny jeans and vintage wear run the town, you haven’t seen the hipster life. Some people over there, or maybe it’s just this man, prefer to use type-writers when they’re on the move as opposed to sitting on their cell phones like a lot of us. The coolest people go analogue or go home.
21. Texas – Where Everything’s Bigger
As the old adage goes, everything is bigger in Texas. As the second-biggest state (by area and population) in the country, Texans know only one setting and that’s big. They don’t need to prove it – as if their land mass wasn’t big enough, their famous 72-oz steak challenge also adds to the argument.
Texas is so big, in fact, that the term “six flags over Texas” actually refers to the multiple nations that historically rule over the area. Per the iconic state cliché, it’s not just geographic size that’s bigger in this part of the U.S. The Texan personality (and, might we mention hair) are commonly known to be larger than life as well. Now, what ya’ll think about that?
22. Utah – Mormon Culture
When Utah is mentioned, one of the top things to come to mind is Mormon culture. In fact, Utah ranks among the top U.S. states to provide donations to charity. This could be because followers of the Mormon faith are expected to give 10% of all earnings to the LDS church. While Mormonism plays a big part in Utah, you can hit the Sugar House district in Salt Lake City, and you’ll see a whole different side to life.
Historically, isolation in Utah allowed Mormons to create a culture of their own. As the faith spread around the world, some distinctive practices followed. Sometimes, Mormon converts are urged to undergo lifestyle changes and adopt sometimes atypical standards of conduct. Maybe this could explain this unique method of doing your hair, like the family demonstrates in this photo.
23. Vermont – Maple Syrup
Let’s be honest, when Vermont comes to mind, we’re not really sure why we haven’t moved there already. Home to fiery fall foliage and quaint countryside vistas, the Green Mountain State is typically linked to one particularly sweet symbol: maple syrup.
As America’s leading producer of liquid gold gooey goodness, Vermont pumped out nearly 2 million gallons of maple syrup in 2018, according to the USDA. To be honest, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to edible goodness in Vermont. The state is also where beloved ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s was founded, and is also home to food favorites like the iconic Vermont cheddar cheese.
24. Washington – Bigfoot
Apart from the grunge music scene, one concept that’s commonly associated with Washington is the big, hairy, ape-like creature popularly known in America folklore as Bigfoot. People have been pondering the existence of Bigfoot for years, with the first reported sightings dating as far back as the late 1800s.
Those who claim to have seen Bigfoot, otherwise known as Sasquatch, have described the creature as taller than the average man with a coat of hair covering his entire body. On a more tangible note, however, Washington is also famous for its coffee houses. The first Starbucks was opened in Seattle in 1971. Maybe it’s all that caffeine that’s got people imagining that they’ve seen Bigfoot?
25. Wyoming – Bison
Since 1985, Wyoming’s state mammal has been the bison. So, perhaps it’s no wonder we often think of them roaming around Yellowstone National Park when we think of this state. Bison are so indicative of the area, that Yellowstone is the only place in the country this species has lived since prehistoric times! Now that’s less cliché, and more history.
If you ever find yourself in the middle of a freeway with a bison blocking the path, you should probably stay in your vehicle. But don’t worry, the motorists in this photo seem to know how to handle a traffic jam, carrying on with their journey in an orderly, albeit peculiar, fashion.
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