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    20 Awesome Things You Didn't Know About Mississippi

    Mississippi is a truly rocking state. We could probably make a list of at least a million awesome things about it. But that might break Buzzfeed. So here are 20.

    1. The Teddy Bear Was Created in Sharkey, Mississippi

    flickr.com / Via greatdeltabearaffair.org

    It is possible that there is nothing more awesome (and definitely nothing more cute!) in the entire universe than the Teddy Bear. And the Teddy Bear came to be in Sharkey County, Mississippi.

    President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was out on a Sharkey hunting expedition back in 1902 when he was asked to shoot a captured bear. He said no. And the Teddy Bear was born.

    Appropriately the Mississippi State Toy is a Teddy Bear. And each year the Great Delta Bear Affair hands out a different commemorative Teddy Bear.

    BTW we almost ended up with the Billy Possum instead of the Teddy Bear.

    2. Root Beer was Invented in Biloxi, Mississippi

    The Puppet Museum... They Build Barqy! / Via barqs.com

    Edward Adolf Barq Sr. (as in Barq's!) was born in New Orleans to French parents. After moving back to Paris for a few years with his family, he returned to New Orleans to receive a degree in chemistry. This is when, as the Barq's Root Beer website says, "ideas are beginning to bubble." Mr. Barq then moved to the the beach resort town of Biloxi, Mississippi where he bottled and sold his first Barq's. Barq's Has Bite!

    3. Clean Energy! First-Of-It's-Kind Environment-Cleaning Mega Powerplant Rises in Kemper, Mississippi

    Flickr: mississippipower / Via kemperproject.org

    The Kemper power plant (582-megawatts of power) uses innovative technology to give power to Mississippi, keeping the State’s environment clean by preventing pollutants from entering the atmosphere. The power plant is a first-of-its-kind, 21st-century coal plant in the US.

    We have a tradition of innovation in Mississippi (think Stennis Space Center) and what Kemper County is up to is no exception. That’s why national and international leaders are so often flying in to see what’s going on. It’s because of the high-tech way Kemper is generating energy and keeping the air clean at the same time.

    There's nothing like it outside of Mississippi! Coal plant of the future, anyone?

    4. Where Ballet Dreams are Made of ... Jackson, Mississippi

    usaibc.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

    The USA International Ballet Competition is one of the world's top competitions for ballet. Located in Jackson, Mississippi, this competition is attended by dancers from all over the world to represent their country for bronze, silver, or gold medals in a variety of categories of ballet in an Olympic-style competition.

    The International Ballet Competition (IBC) originated in Varna, Bulgaria in 1964. The competition eventually expanded to rotating annual events in Varna, Moscow and Tokyo. In 1979 the event first came to the United States in Jackson, Mississippi, where it now returns every four years.

    In the late 1970s a group in New York City was looking for a site to hold an international ballet competition in the United States. Jackson was chosen. Bruce Marks (a ballet rockstar) said "New York is New York but Jackson is America."

    5. First Bottling of Coca Cola ... Vicksburg, Mississippi

    riverfrontmurals.com / Via biedenharncoca-colamuseum.com

    In 1894, Coca-Cola was first bottled by Joseph A. Biedenharn in Vicksburg, Mississippi at what was then 218-220 Washington Street. This from the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum website:

    In 1866, Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia, created what would become the most recognized and popular soft drink on earth.

    The rest of the story will come from Mr. Joe Biedenharn in a letter to then vice president of the Coca-Cola Company, Harrison Jones, dated September 11, 1939.

    "Dear Harrison:

    Replying to your inquiry in your recent letter, beg to advise that I think it was in the summer of 1894 that we first bottled Coca-Cola at what was then 218-220 Washington Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

    It was through Mr. A. G. Candler's suggestion to me upon one of his business trips to Vicksburg that finally led up to our bottling Coca-Cola. He suggested to me that we stock and job Coca-Cola syrup to supply the fountain dispensing trade in and around Vicksburg. The agreement between us was that we were to buy not less than 2,000 gallons of Coca-Cola syrup during a 12-month period, subject to 25 cent per gallon rebate at the end of the 12-month period.

    We were operating a wholesale and retail confectionary business and were dispensing Coca-Cola through our soda fountain, so this proposal fell right into line with our jobbing business.

    Consumer demand has increased and was increasing rapidly, as a Coca-Cola would only be had in the cities where the fountains were dispending it. The thought struck on day, "Why not bottle it for our country trade?" We were in the soda water bottling game and it was easy to start it going.

    We sent one of our first cases of bottled Coca-Cola to Mr. Candler and he wrote back that it was fine. Prices at that time were seventy cents per case on Coca-Cola and sixty cents per case on bottled soda water. This started us off on the right track and I have seen Coca-Cola grow with us from a five-gallon keg the first year to what it is today."

    J. Biedenharn

    6. Pine-Sol Invented by Jackson, Mississippi Native

    Pine-Sol.com / Via pinesol.com

    Just after the start of the Great Depression in 1929, chemist Harry A. Cole found himself living in miles of pine forest near Jackson, Mississippi.

    Mr. Cole long knew that pine oil was a natural disinfectant and deodorizer, so he rolled up his sleeves to create Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner. In 1990, The Clorox Company acquired Pine-Sol and set about innovating the formula and extending the line, with scented products that offer the same time-honored benefit of real clean.

    7. Shoes Were First Sold In Pairs (Whoa! Weren't They Always?) in Vicksburg, Mississippi

    wallpaperswide.com / Via americanprofile.com

    When shoes were invented there was no such thing as left and right shoes. Shoes were shoes were shoes. And shoemakers were like kids before they learned their left from their right. Then a guy in Philadelphia (sadly not our Philadelphia in Neshoba, County, Mississippi but that other one in Pennsylvania) came up with left and right shoes. The concept of selling shoes in boxes as pairs first occurred in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1884 at Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor.

    8. Inventor of the Dollar Sign Is Buried in Pinckneyville, Mississippi

    iphone-cases-ipad-covers.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

    Mississippi has been making it "rain" since 1778 (lyric reference). During the Revolutionary War, Oliver Pollock invented the dollar sign ($). He is buried near Pinckneyville, Mississippi.

    9. Mississippi's Mississippi Delta: Birthplace of the Blues. OK, You Probably Knew That Already But We Needed To Get This Awesome Guitar Photo In Our List!

    folkwaymusic.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

    The Mississippi Delta is the birthplace of The Blues. The Blues came before Jazz. Both are original American art forms—along with BuzzFeed lists! The Mississippi Delta is the distinctive northwest section Mississippi (the state) that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers.

    Oh... as Paul Simon sings on the album Graceland: "The Mississippi Delta was shining Like a national guitar."

    10. The Soft-Toilet-Seat Patent Holder (1,000,000 Sold Each Year!) Lives in Columbus, Mississippi

    nijimiki.com / Via americanprofile.com

    David Harrison of Columbus, Mississippi owns the patent on the "Soft Toilet Seat." Over one million are sold every year. ​

    11. First Memorial Day Held at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, Mississippi

    thegospelcoalition.org / Via visitcolumbusms.org

    During the Civil War, Columbus served as a hospital town where more than 3,000 wounded soldiers – many from the Battle of Shiloh – were brought for recovery. Thousands more suffered mortal wounds and were laid to rest in the town’s Friendship Cemetery.

    In 1866, a group of women from Columbus gathered to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. These women made no distinction between Confederate and Union soldiers and, thus, began the nation’s healing process following a divisive Civil War.

    A newspaper excerpt from April 26, 1866, recounted the deed, saying: “We are glad to see that no distinction was made between our own Confederate dead and Federal soldiers who slept their last sleep by them. It proved the exalted, unselfish tone of the female character. Confederate and Federal – once enemies, now friends – receiving their tribute of respect.”

    Judge F.M. Finch, a poet from New York who happened to be in Columbus that day, immortalized the gesture in a poem called “The Blue and the Gray.”

    Decoration Day became the first Memorial Day observance and Columbus is proud to be remembered as the city “where flowers healed a nation.” -from the Visit Columbus website:

    Decoration Day continues as an annual observance at many southern graveyards. Folks gather to reconnect with family and the community, honor the memories of their ancestors, and place flowers on graves and donate to cemetery committees for upkeep of the cemetery. Traditionally, families would arrive on the day before Decoration Sunday with hoes and shovels for a graveyard workday. In private family graveyards they would scrape the ground, trim the grass, make new plantings, and prune old ones. - from Wikipedia

    12. Brothers from Meridian, Mississippi Hold World Record for Longest Endurance Flight

    theaerodrome.com / Via meridianairport.com

    Two brothers from Meridian, Mississippi -- Fred and Al Key -- kept a plane called "Ole Miss" aloft for 635 hours. Although this gigantic accomplishment happened in 1935, they still hold the world record!

    Fred and Al Key grew up in Mississippi with a reputation for having "wheels in their heads." After witnessing three wayward planes from a nearby WWI training base land in their family pasture, Al Key knew he wanted to fly.

    In 1930, as an attempt to attract attention and notoriety for a struggling Meridian Municipal Airport, Fred and Al Key decided to plan a record-shattering endurance flight over the city of Meridian. Over the next few years, the brothers worked to innovate new ideas in mid-air refueling in order to fulfill their dream of breaking the current 553 hour world endurance record held by the Hunter brothers of Chicago.

    On June 4, 1935, Fred and Al Key took off in the Ole Miss in front of 100 supporters to begin their daunting task. One June 1, 1935, nearly a month later, the Ole Miss landed at Meridian Regional Airport to a crowd of 30,000 cheering people. The amazing non-stop endurance flight that lasted over 27 non-stop days and nights - that's 653 hours and 34 minutes!

    13. First Lung Transplant (Setting Stage for Many Innovations in Organ Transplantation) Is Performed at University of Mississippi Medical Center

    natureworldnews.com / Via umc.edu

    Breathe it in, Mississippi! We're home to the world's first successful, human lung transplant. The year was 1963, and the team was led by Dr. James D. Hardy, professor of surgery and chairman of the department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

    But it was the following year when an event at the young Medical Center really had the world's press in a frenzy. Dr. Hardy and his team transplanted the heart of a chimpanzee - man's closest genetic relation - into the chest of a dying man. The world's first heart transplanted into man beat 90 minutes before it stopped.

    Those first two operations in Mississippi - met with such dubious acceptance in the beginning - set the stage for all future heart and lung transplantation. They demonstrated that surgical techniques perfected in nine years of work on animals would work in humans. They proved that a transplanted lung would breathe and transplanted heart would beat and support a blood pressure in a human host.

    When Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed his heart transplant in 1967 (the first ever in South Africa) he gave credit to the Mississippi team for the 1964 operation, saying it proved that "the feasibility of cardiac transplantation was now irrefutable."

    14. Mississippi is One of 21 States That Has Milk as a State Beverage (Also Known As Our Excuse to Get Miranda Lambert Onto Our List Even If She's From Texas!)

    mstarz.com / Via netstate.com

    Mississippi is one of 21 states to have milk as its state beverage. Twenty three states have "none" as their state beverage. Miranda (and hubby Blake Shelton) would look great with "none" mustaches too, by the way.

    15. Borden's Condensed Milk First Canned in Liberty, Mississippi

    snipview.com / Via foodreference.com

    Borden's Condensed Milk was first canned in Liberty, Mississippi.

    Gail Borden was a surveyor, inventor and businessman. As an early pioneer settler in Texas he made the first topographical map of Texas, and in 1838 he surveyed and laid out the site of Galveston. He developed a meat biscuit in 1851, and after several failed attempts, finally developed a method to make condensed milk in 1853.

    Condensed milk is milk reduced by evaporation, with sugar added. It takes about 2.3 pounds of whole milk to make 1 pound of condensed milk. Condensed milk was the inspiration for Key Lime Pie.

    16. Famed Hat Maker John B. Stetson Learned His Craft at Dunn's Falls Near Meridian, Mississippi

    michelelewis.com / Via thefamilytravelfiles.com

    A Stetson hat is a uniquely American signature accessory, but did you know that Dunn’s Falls, Mississippi is the first location where J.B. Stetson made his now famous hats? The 65-foot waterfall once powered a gristmill which supplied power to his factory. Hats are no longer made on site, but the historic Carroll Richardson Gristmill is open for visitors.

    17. The International Checkers Hall of Fame Was In Petal, Mississippi—Until It Was Destroyed By Fire in 2007 :- (

    angiesdiary.com / Via roadsideamerica.com

    Not much left, but if you're a checkers fan you might pay your respects.

    For the past 30 years The International Checker Hall of Fame reigned as one of America's greatest anachronisms. For such a humble game -- "The Mind Sport of Kings and Ordinary Men" -- its Hall was flamboyant and flaunting: a 32,000-square-foot Moorish/Tudor edifice, with a seven-story tower, a colonnaded tournament room with 24-foot-high ceilings and the world's two largest checkerboards, a library with checkers books dating back to the 17th century, priceless checkers artifacts scattered throughout, and even a statue, costing more than $10,000, of grand champion Marion Tinsley, who lost only 7 games in 45 years. The place was so over-the-top that we declared it to be too interesting to include in our 1992 "Boring Tour."

    Built in obscure Petal, Mississippi, it was also the largest house in Forest County and the mansion of its founder, the wheeler-dealer pompadoured millionaire Charles Clendell Walker, best known for his 1994 Guinness World Record of playing 306 checkers games simultaneously and losing only one.

    On September 29, 2007, a still-unexplained fire started in the tower and quickly engulfed the rest of the Hall. Everything: the giant checkerboards, the library, the statue, was destroyed. "What has been lost is one of the finest checkers collections the world has ever known," said Don Deweber, director of the World of Checkers Museum. "It is almost all irreplaceable."

    18. Made in Mississippi: Peavey Amps (Even If You Haven't Heard of 'Em You've Heard 'Em)

    peavey.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

    The photo is Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down with his Peavey.

    Peavey Electronics Corporation is one of the largest audio equipment manufacturers in the world, headquartered in Meridian, Mississippi. Hartley Peavey founded the company in 1965 after building his first amplifier in 1957. Since its foundation, Peavey Electronics has been privately owned, and has grown massively from their humble beginnings in Hartley's basement in the 1950s.

    In 2011, Inc. Magazine profiled the global success story of Hartley Peavey and Peavey Electronics. “Hartley Peavey dreamed of becoming a rock star,” wrote Inc. Magazine’s Kasey Wehrum. “Though he lacked the chops to become the next Chuck Berry, his name has been etched into the pantheon of rock 'n' roll history.”

    19. Beautiful (Isn't that Red Amazing?) Viking Ranges. Cooked Up and Still Produced in Greenwood, Mississippi

    houzz.com / Via nytimes.com

    Once known as the cotton capital of the world, Greenwood, Mississippi is now becoming the cooking capital with worldly aspirations. The town, home to 18,000, people boasts not only legendary Southern restaurants, but it also hosts Viking factories, Viking kitchen showrooms, and a Viking-owned luxury boutique hotel called the Alluvian.

    20. A Whole Lotta Super Famous People Are From Mississippi. Like These...

    brainpickings.org / Via Biography.com

    Okay, people... It's time for our list within a list:

    Red Barber sportscaster, Columbus

    Jimmy Buffett singer, songwriter, Pascagoula

    Bo Diddley guitarist, McCombs

    Charles Evers civil rights leader, Decatur

    Medgar Evers civil rights leader, Decatur

    Brett Farve football, Kiln

    William Cuthbert Faulkner author, New Albany

    Shelby Foote historian, Greenville

    Jim Henson puppeteer, Greenville

    Faith Hill singer, Jackson

    James Earl Jones entertainer, Arkabutla

    B. B. King guitarist, Itta Bena

    Walter Payton football player, Columbia

    Elvis Presley singer, actor, Tupelo

    Leontyne Price soprano, Laurel

    William Raspberry columnist, Oklaona

    Jerry Rice football player, Starkville

    LeAnn Rimes country music, Jackson

    Conway Twitty country music, Friars Point

    Muddy Waters singer, guitarist, Rolling Fork

    Eudora Welty author, Jackson

    Tennessee Williams playwright, Columbus

    Oprah Winfrey talk-show host, Kosciusko

    Richard Wright author, Natchez

    Tammy Wynette country music star, Tupelo

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