Sweet Corn and the State Hat

Rumor has it that Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the national bird. Another rumor has him proposing the sweet corn as the New York State vegetable. It is well known that, to Franklin’s disappointment, the American Eagle was adopted (in 1782) as the national bird. Less well known is that New York State legislature has continued an annual debate on designation of the state vegetable. Recent news from Albany suggests that Franklin may finally have his way on the state vegetable.

****** A relevant history review for those out of school: New York was the first capitol of the country under the Constitution from 1789 to 1790. The capitol had also previously been for four years in New York under the Articles of Confederation. In 1790 it moved to back to Philadelphia where it had been most of the time during the Continental Congress. Coincidentally 1790 was also the year of Franklin’s death. *******

It should be no surprise that Franklin, a man with many interests, brilliant insights, and a taste for politics, was interested in the choice of state vegetable. He had lived briefly in NY (though he was not so fond of NYC) and he published Poor Richard’s Almanack. He had a natural predilection for practicality and pithy sayings and humor. The naming of sweet corn as the official state vegetable naturally appealed to him. Others had proposed the potato, but he quickly pointed out that a potato did not have a noble character as it hid under the ground and made a bad smell, while the sweet corn boldly stood straight and tall and gave a pleasant scent. Moreover, he pointed out, the sweet corn (Indian Corn) is a true American native plant.

What is surprising is that the New York State legislature should have spent another 235 years debating the designation. The process of politics in New York is very slow. The budgets rarely pass before they have already been spent. The chambers have spent years evenly divided between republicans and democrats (since the creation of the two party system) in an almost perfect deadlock.

Therefore it is with great trepidation that I now propose the state hat. “Why,” you may ask, “should we propose a state hat, when there’s only a slim chance of its actually being enacted in this, the 21st century?” A good question for sure. The answer lies in the historical importance of hats to New York.

    * Iconic photos of New Yorkers usually show them in hats
    * Wall Street is in NY and is symbolized by a top hat.
    * Hat makers were a big part of the garment industry in NYC
    * The fashion capitol of the country means hat capitol too
    * Beavers were hunted for beaver hats in NY.

I invite you kind reader to add more reasons in the comments section which I will later add to this post (with due credit).

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you have been all waiting for. . . . The envelope, please. The official hat of New York State will be: What? We have no decision yet?

I am afraid that not being a man of Ben Franklin’s perspicacity I am unable at this time to name a specific hat style. I propose a contest instead. Please tweet @NYShat with your choice. We will be collecting the data and hope to present the results in a future post.





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