Every state has a flag, a motto, and a song. More often than not these are very familiar to the state’s residents, but do you know about some of the more obscure state symbols? These symbols seem to speak to the character of each New England State. Some may come as a surprise, but even if you didn’t know about the symbols before you started reading, we here at Yankee expect you’ll be nodding your head in agreement with most of the following little known symbols for your state.
Guide to New England State Symbols
CONNECTICUT STATE SYMBOLS
Connecticut State Cantata: “The Nutmeg, Homeland of Liberty”
In 2003 Connecticut legislature declared the “The Nutmeg, Homeland of Liberty” by Stanley L. Ralph the official state cantata. A cantata is a piece of music for chorus, including solos and recitatives; Ralph’s piece explores Connecticut’s history.
Connecticut State Folk Dance: Square Dance
Connecticut is one of 22 states to call the square dance its state dance. In recent decades, several bills were written proposing to make square dancing the national folk dance, but it wasn’t until 1995 that it became official.
Connecticut State Insect: European Praying Mantis
This green bug is not a native of Connecticut or even of the United States, but this did not stop Connecticut from proclaiming it the state insect. During the spring and summer, you can find the praying mantis throughout the state.
Connecticut State Shellfish: Eastern Oyster
Oysters were a staple in the diet of Native Americans and early European settlers in the Connecticut region, and in the 19th century, Connecticut boasted one of the largest oyster industries in the United States. Connecticut officials acknowledged the oyster’s importance in 1989 when they declared it the official state shellfish.
MAINE STATE SYMBOLS
Maine State Beverage: Moxie
Maine officials nominated this bitter tasting drink to be the state beverage in 2005. The drink’s inventor, Dr. Augustin Thompson, was born in Maine, and there is a Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine every year.
SEE MORE:Moxie | Maine’s Favorite Soda
Maine State Cat: Maine Coon Cat
The Maine coon cat was adopted as the official state cat or state domestic animal in 1985. The coon cat is large and perfectly suited for Maine winters with its water resistant, thick fur coat and its tufted snow-shoe like paws.
SEE MORE:Maine Coon Cat Fun Facts
Maine State Herb: Wintergreen
Originally used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans, this glossy green-leafed plant was named the official state herb of Maine in 1999. While still used in teas for sore throats and upset stomachs, it is now commonly used to flavor gum and toothpaste.
Maine State Pie: Blueberry Pie
The wild blueberry has been the official state berry of Maine since 1991, so it should come as no surprise that the official state dessert was named as Blueberry Pie in 2011.
Maine State Treat: Whoopie Pie
While not originally invented in Maine, the whoopie pie has become one of the most popular treats offered in the state. The cake-like dessert has been a staple on shop shelves since 1925 and became the official state treat in 2010.
MASSACHUSETTS STATE SYMBOLS
Massachusetts State Bean: Baked Navy Bean
As of 1993, the Baked Navy Bean (also known as the Boston bean or Yankee bean) has been the official state bean of Massachusetts. Native Americans most likely introduced settlers in the Massachusetts area to this bean and how to eat it with animal fat and maple sugar. Throughout the centuries Massachusetts has been famous for its beans, gaining Boston the nickname of “Beantown.”
SEE MORE:Baked Beans Recipe
Massachusetts State Beverage: Cranberry Juice
It took two years to get the cranberry named as Massachusetts state berry, but in 1994 the petition finally went through. The Cranberry originates in the United States and was a staple in the Native American diet. More recently it has become a traditional Thanksgiving Day garnish. Cranberry juice has been the official state beverage since 1970.
Massachusetts State Cat: Tabby Cat (1988)
The tabby cat, which is not a specific breed of cat in anyway, was named Massachusetts official cat in 1988. The tabby cat is so called based on the colors and patterns of lines in its coat. Massachusetts is one of four states to honor cats with state symbol status.
Massachusetts State Cookie: Chocolate Chip Cookie
In 1930 in the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts a delicious, chocolaty cookie was created. The cookie became known as the chocolate chip cookie and was voted as the official cookie of Massachusetts in 1997.
Massachusetts State Dog: Boston Terrier
This compact dog was one of the first purebred dogs to come out of the United States. Robert C. Hooper developed the breed in Boston in 1870. Massachusetts legislature proclaimed it the official state dog in 1979.
Massachusetts State Donut: Boston Cream Donut
Boston cream pie became the official state dessert in 1996. Most people seem to either love or hate the creamy dessert, and for those of you who love it, the Boston cream donut is a great twist on an already tasty treat. In 2003, the state government designated the Boston cream donut as the state donut. (Massachusetts is one of only two states to have a state donut — the other is the beignet in Louisiana.)
Massachusetts State Muffin: Corn Muffin
In general the corn muffin features prevalently in New England cuisine, but Massachusetts snatched it up as its official state muffin 1986.
NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE SYMBOLS
New Hampshire State Beverage: Apple Cider
In 2010, New Hampshire legislature named apple cider the state beverage, honoring over 150 apple growers who work and live in New Hampshire. You’ll definitely want an apple cider donut to go along with your drink.
SEE MORE:The Best New England Hard Ciders to Try This Fall
New Hampshire State Dog: Chinook Dog
The Chinook dog became New Hampshire’s state dog in 2009. It is the only dog to have originated in New Hampshire. During the 20th century, it served as a sled and work dog.
New Hampshire State Fruit: Pumpkin
Thanks to the hugely popular Keene Pumpkin Festival, which was first held in 1991, New Hampshire officials recognized the pumpkin as New Hampshire’s state fruit in 2006. The Pumpkin Festival is still held annually, but has recently been moved to Laconia, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire State Sport: Skiing
New Hampshire is one of only a handful of states to name an official state sport. New Hampshire legislature adopted it as the state sport in 1998.
New Hampshire State Vegetable: White Potato
After learning that the white potato first arrived in the United States by way of an Irish Immigrant who settled in New Hampshire in 1719, school children from Derry, New Hampshire pushed to have the white potato named as the state’s official vegetable. The state government approved it in 2013.
RHODE ISLAND STATE SYMBOLS
Rhode Island State American Folk Art: Carousel
In 1895 a man by the name of Charles I.D. Looff designed and built the Crescent Park Carousel. It is one of only a few handmade wooden carousels still in use today. In 1985 state government named the carousel, which is on the national register of historic sites, including its 66 hand carved horses Rhode Island’s symbol of American Folk Art.
Rhode Island State Bird: Rhode Island Red Chicken
Rhode Island legislature named the iconic rooster of New England farms and barn roofs, with its rusty red body, green tail feathers, and bright red comb, the official state bird in 1954. It beat out the osprey and ruby-throated hummingbird.
Rhode Island State Drink: Coffee Milk
The people of Rhode Island proclaimed this chocolate milk-like beverage the official state drink in 1993. It is a combination of coffee syrup and milk that dates back to the 1920s. A Coffee Cabinet is a specialty drink, which resembles a frappe and uses coffee milk and ice cream.
SEE MORE:Rhode Island Coffee Milk
Rhode Island State Fruit: Rhode Island Greening Apple
Dating back to the 17th century, the Rhode Island greening apple is one of the oldest American varieties of apples. It is best used for cooking and drying, but may also be eaten raw. It became the official state fruit of Rhode Island in 1991.
VERMONT STATE SYMBOLS
Vermont State Animal: Morgan Horse
The Morgan Horse was one of the earliest breeds developed in the United States. It is a descendant of a horse named Figure, a bay stallion owned by Justin Morgan. The Morgan Horse was originally used to pull coaches, to ride and race, and as the mount of choice in the Revolutionary War cavalry. It was named the official state animal of Vermont in 1961; it also serves as the official state horse of Massachusetts.
Vermont State Beverage: Milk
Apparently, we love milk. The calcium and protein packed drink is the official beverage of 20 states. The Vermont government named Milk the official beverage in 1983.
Vermont State Flavor: Maple
Who knew a state could have an official flavor? In 1993 Vermont named maple as its state flavor. Vermont is one of the top producers of maple syrup in New England. Learn more in our guide to maple syrup grades, how to make sugar on snow using maple syrup, and another maple favorite, maple candy.
Vermont State Heritage Livestock: Randall Lineback Cattle
The Randall Lineback cow originated in Sunderland, Vermont. It is typically used as a dairy cow, but it may also be used for meat. It became the official state livestock breed of Vermont in 2006.
Vermont State Pie: Apple Pie
The apple became Vermont’s official state fruit in 1999, and in that same year Vermont’s legislature recognized the apple pie as the official state pie. Here are some of the best apple recipes.
SEE MORE:Best Apple Recipes
Do you know of any quirky or interesting New England state symbols that we’ve missed? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.