1. ALABAMA: Forrest Gump
Alabama was the fictional home of Forrest Gump and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Above, Forrest is pictured at the tail end of his three-year run.
2. ALASKA: Bald Eagles
The bald eagle is both America’s national bird and national animal. It can be found in every state besides Hawaii, but the largest population nests in Alaska.
3. ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon
Considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the 277-mile-long fissure was carved by the Colorado River. The different layers of rock tell much about North America’s geologic history.
4. ARKANSAS: Johnny Cash
The American singer, songwriter, actor, and author was born in Kingsland, Ark. on Feb. 26, 1932. “The Man in Black” earned his spots in the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
5. CALIFORNIA: McDonald’s
It all started when McDonalds family opened “The Airdrome” in 1937 in Monrovia, Calif. The next step was the 1940 move to San Bernardino, Calif., accompanied with the name change to “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q” (pictured above). Chicago multimixer mogul Ray Kroc then entered the equation and finalized the foundation of the empire we know today.
6. COLORADO: Cheeseburgers
Though the origin of cheeseburgers is widely disputed, the trademark for the name itself was awarded to Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In of Denver, Colo., in 1935.
7. CONNECTICUT: Lollipops
The concept of candy on a stick has existed for centuries, but the term “Lolly Pop” wasn’t trademarked until 1931 by George Smith of New Haven, Conn.
8. DELAWARE: The First State
On Dec. 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
9. FLORIDA: NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was founded by William France Sr. in 1948. NASCAR is, and always has been, headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla.
10. GEORGIA: Coca-Cola
Still headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., the Coca-Cola original recipe was conjured up at the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company in Columbus, Ga., by John Pemberton. His original intention was to make a patent medicine, but prohibition presented the opportunity to redevelop his brew as a nonalcoholic variation of his French Wine Coca.
11. HAWAII: Pearl Harbor
Part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the USS Arizona Memorial located at Pearl Harbor commemorates the events of Japan’s attack on Dec. 7, 1941 and honors the 1,177 brave sailors and marines whose lives were taken there.
12. IDAHO: Potatoes
Idaho is our nation’s largest producer of potatoes, accounting for more than 20% of the country’s annual crop. Pictured above are some of the most scenic potato fields in existence.
13. ILLINOIS: John Deere
Though John Deere himself was born in Vermont, his success came from inventing the first commercially successful cast-steel plow after settling in Grand Detour, Ill. He moved the business operations to Moline, Ill., for shipping purposes, and it remains headquartered there today.
14. INDIANA: NCAA
The National Collegiate Athletic Association moved its headquarters to Indianapolis, Ind., in 1999.
15. IOWA: John Wayne
Born as Marion Mitchell Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, the actor, director, and producer was awarded the government’s two highest civilian decorations: the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
16. KANSAS: White Castle
Founded in Wichita, Kan., in 1921, the “sliders” were priced at 5 cents a piece until the ’40s. The original location is pictured above.
17. KENTUCKY: Bourbon Whiskey
This American whiskey is named after an area called “Old Bourbon” that is now Bourbon County, Ky. The state produces more than 90% of all the bourbon in the world, and there are currently more barrels of bourbon in the aging process than there are people within Kentucky.
18. LOUISIANA: Mardi Gras
The Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, La., has become synonymous with the city itself. NOLA’s slogan (“Let the good times roll”) and nickname (Big Easy) trace roots back to the bead-slinging, booby-flashing, drink-guzzling shenanigans.
19. MAINE: Lobster Rolls
Maine’s been serving up this buttered-down crustacean on a toasted bun since the ’70s. Pictured above is an order from The Maine Diner in Wells, Maine.
20. MARYLAND: Babe Ruth
The Sultan of Swat was born in Baltimore, Md., on Feb. 6, 1895. He went on to hit 714 home runs, win seven World Series, and become the widely considered greatest baseball player of all time.
21. MASSACHUSETTS: Basketball
James Naismith invented the game of basketball to serve as an “athletic distraction” for his rambunctious class at the Springfield, Mass., YMCA.
22. MICHIGAN: Muscle Cars
Basically, the idea behind muscle cars is putting a large-displacement engine inside a small car. Ford and General Motors led the charge in the late ’40s and early ’50s from Detroit, Mich., the “Motor City.” Pictured above is Ford’s 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, also known as Eleanor from Gone in Sixty Seconds.
23. MINNESOTA: Mall of America
Bloomington, Minn.’s mega-mall opened in 1992. The behemoth boasts more than 520 stores, an indoor amusement park, and an aquarium, and occupies more than 4 million square feet.
24. MISSISSIPPI: Elvis Presley
“The King” was born in Tupelo, Miss., on Jan. 8, 1935. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music.
25. MISSOURI: Budweiser
Adolphus Busch left Germany and settled in St. Louis, Mo., in 1857. It was there that he married into the Anheuser family and started the foundation of the Anheuser-Busch Company. Pictured above are the Budwesier Clydesdales in front of their beautiful stables in St. Louis.
26. MONTANA: Grizzly Bears
Grizzly bears are the state animal of Montana. While this subspecies of the brown bear originally occupied the entire western half of North America, their range today is limited to the Northwest, primarily Western Canada and Alaska.
27. NEBRASKA: Kool-Aid
Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid in Hastings, Neb. in 1927. It originated as a drink called Fruit Smack until he removed the liquid to reduce shipping costs.
28. NEVADA: “All-You-Can-Eat”
Herb Macdonald came up with this gluttonous proposition to help promote tourism to the Las Vegas Strip in 1956.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE: Beer Pong
The game was invented at Dartmouth University in Hanover, N.H. During the ’50s and ’60s, it evolved from a paddle game to the modern version we all know and love. Pictured above is the World Series of Beer Pong held in Las Vegas.
30. NEW JERSEY: Drive-In Theaters
Richard Hollingshead Jr. created the first drive-in theater in Camden, N.J. It all started out with him nailing a screen the trees in his yard and a projector to the hood of his car in 1932.
31. NEW MEXICO: Nuclear Weapons
New Mexico is the home of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Besides weapon research and production, this was also the site for the first nuclear detonation, Trinity.
32. NEW YORK: Jeans
Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss invented jeans in 1873 in New York. The idea was to reinforce the points of stress with copper rivets.
33. NORTH CAROLINA: Tobacco
North Carolina accounts for more than 70% of America’s tobacco production. Pictured above is a Carolina tobacco field with a view.
34. NORTH DAKOTA: Baked Beans
Roughly one-third of all America’s baked beans are produced in North Dakota.
35. OHIO: Cedar Point
This 364-acre amusement park on the shores of Lake Erie has been commonly referred to as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”
36. OKLAHOMA: Girl Scout Cookies
The first cookie sale was held by the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Okla., in 1917. The American Girl magazine suggested the idea in 1922, and the rest is history.
37. OREGON: Nike
Nike was founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 at the University of Oregon. The company changed its name to Nike after the Greek goddess of victory. They are headquartered near Beaverton, Ore.
38. PENNSYLVANIA: Gettysburg
The site of our Civil War’s turning point. It was the battle featuring the most casualties as the Union thwarted Confederate Gen. Robert Lee’s invasion of the North.
39. RHODE ISLAND: First Independence
On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first of the 13 colonies to declare its independence from British rule.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA: Fireworks
Sandlappers have the most freedom to buy and display fireworks. Pictured above is one of Charleston’s recent 4th of July celebrations.
41. SOUTH DAKOTA: Mount Rushmore
The carving of four, 60-foot faces began in 1927 and ended in 1941. This national memorial immortalizes presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln in granite.
42. TENNESSEE: Dollywood
Opened in 1961 as “Rebel Railroad,” the park was renamed “Dollywood” after Dolly Parton became a co-owner in 1986. Since the country music star came into the picture, the park has doubled in size and attendance.
43. TEXAS: Longhorn
The Longhorn is one of Texas’ state animals. It is also the mascot for the University of Texas at Austin. Not surprisingly, Texas leads the U.S. in beef production.
44. UTAH: The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints
Joseph Smith may have founded Mormonism in Western New York, but Brigham Young led the followers to modern day Utah after Smith’s death. The church has nearly 70,000 missionaries around the world who served as Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s inspiration for Book of Mormon (pictured above).
45. VERMONT: Apple Pie
Apple pie was designated the official state pie for Vermont in 1999. Apples are also the official state fruit.
46. VIRGINIA: George Washington
George was born, lived, died, and now rests in Virginia. He was our commander-in-chief during the American Revolution, the first president of the United States, and one of our nation’s Founding Fathers.
47. WASHINGTON: Starbucks
Starbucks began as a small coffeehouse in Seattle, Wash. It’s now the largest coffeehouse chain in the world with more than 20,000 locations. Pictured above is the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.
48. WEST VIRGINIA: Mother’s Day
The modern holiday was first celebrated in Grafton, W. Va., when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mom in 1908. It was a nationally recognized holiday by 1914, and by 1920 the commercialization was evident and unavoidable.
49. WISCONSIN: Harley-Davidson
William Harley and Arthur Davidson grew up in Milwaukee, Wis. Along with Arthur’s brother Walter, they began making their prototypes in 1901. Harley-Davidson is still churning out choppers and hogs today from their headquarters in Milwaukee.
50. WYOMING: Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park spans almost 3,500 square miles. It hosts the world’s largest free-roaming Buffalo population and the fabled geyser Old Faithful (pictured above).