Here's today's assignment: turn to your neighbors at home or at work and ask them if they know what their official state dirt is. Okay, how about the official state muffin? Official amphibian? Exactly my point. So how does this help a state economically? And how isn't it a waste of legislators' time?
Some "official" designations have some real oomph behind them. For instance, Georgia has the peach as its state fruit and the state certainly has done a good job promoting its peach connection. But South Carolina has also designated the peach as its state fruit, and now Georgia's neighbor Alabama passed a resolution to do the same (angering Georgia peach growers, to no one's surprise). If the Georgia peach weren't officially designated, would the peach biz suffer?
But anyway, back to the dirt.
A Georgia legislator recently filed legislation to designate red clay as the state's official dirt. Why? Rep. Bobby Franklin's answer is that it's known all over the world. And, "we've got practically everything else under the sun listed," including a crop, a folk dance, a prepared food, an insect and an official state peanut monument. But if red clay is already known all over the world, what does the designation do, exactly? House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter rolled his eyes over the red clay bill and said the legislature's time could be better spent on other subjects.
Franklin agrees that some of the designations sound silly but says that they do impact tourism. Really? What official state insect makes you want to go visit that state? The mosquito? The gnat? What? And can someone please explain how an official vegetable is such a big draw? "Hey, mom and dad. Can we go to "X" state? I hear that broccoli's the state veggie."