RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTW) – A state beverage? A declared state peanut festival? What about a state insect?
North Carolina’s General Assembly has taken up a few causes over the years, including what thing to officially associate with the state.
We’ve gathered up a list of some of the most unusual symbols that have been declared state symbols. The symbols are presented in no particular order, and the list is not conclusive.
Here are 10 state symbols we bet you didn’t know existed:
State Blue Berry – Blueberry
Are there even other blue berries? The fruit was dubbed as the official Blue Berry of North Carolina in 2001. Blueberry farmers in South Carolina grew 17.5 lbs of the little guys in 2000, making them an important product for the state’s economy. As a contrast, the state’s official red berry is a strawberry.
State Toast – Tar Heel Toast
The Tar Heel Toast has been the State Toast of North Carolina since 1957. Sadly, it’s a speech, not bread. The relatively lengthy speech includes such lines as “where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,” and “where the scuppernong perfume the breeze at night,” before going on to wax poetic about fair maidens.
State Vegetable – Sweet Potato
The sweet potato joined the ranks of state symbols after a group of schoolchildren petitioned for it to be added to the list in 1995. North Carolina is the nation’s largest producer of sweet potatoes, harvesting more than 4 billion lbs a year.
State Song – “The Old North State”
The state toast has some strong competition. As the state song since 1927, “The Old North State” talks about cherishing, protecting and defending the state, claiming that “Tho’ the scorner may sneer at and witlings defame her, still our hearts swell with gladness whenever we name her. Hurrah!”
State Mammal – Gray Squirrel
Designated in 1969, the gray squirrel can be seen in most areas in the state. However, they prefer the “untouched wilderness,” according to the North Carolina Secretary of State Office. You’re also likely to find them in the, uh, “touched wilderness” of parks and neighborhoods.
State Carnivorous Plant – Venus Flytrap
The Venus flytrap is celebrating its 15th anniversary as a state symbol this year. The tiny plant is only native to the Carolinas, and exists by trapping small insects inside its “jaws.”
State Sport – Stock Car Racing
Listen, it doesn’t matter where you fall on the “is racing a sport?” argument, it’s still the state symbol.
State Fossil – Megalodon Shark Teeth
This one is a bit newer, being declared a state symbol in 2013. The gigantic teeth come from prehistoric sharks that lived more than 1.5 million years ago, although there’s conspiracy theories that the beasts are still out there….
State Christmas Tree – Fraser fir
State Christmas tree, state Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches! Get in the holiday spirit by putting up a Fraser fir, which is native to the Appalachian Mountains.
State Marsupial – Virginia Opossum
Sorry, kangaroo fans.
The state designated the Virginia opossum as a state symbol in 2013. The possum is the only marsupial found in North America – along with one of the oldest mammals.