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Maine Cultural Symbols

Maine hits fast and hard with its lean roster of half a dozen cultural symbols.

Cultural Symbols  
Dessert blueberry pie 2011
Treat whoopie pie 2011
Sweetener pure Maine maple syrup 2015
Drink Moxie 2005
Vessel Schooner Bowdoin 1987
Official Language of the Deaf Community American Sign Language 1991
Maine Cultural SymbolsLeft to right: Moxie, maple syrup, blueberries, whoopie pie, and blueberry pie. (Moxie: By Vermont – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/index.php?curid=74241482
Note: I erased the background.)

How could anyone say no to the official state dessert, blueberry pie? And how could anyone dare ignore the state treat and drink, whoopie pie and Moxie?

The whoopie pie is said to come from Pennsylvania. It looks like a giant Oreo cookie. Coal miners could easily pack it in their lunch boxes without making a mess, since the filling is on the inside. According to Amish legend, children who found these treats in their lunch bags would exclaim “Whoopie!”

Exactly how the whoopie pie got to Maine from Pennsylvania is a mystery. Some think it was popularized by Yummy Book, a 1930s cookbook. But whoopie pies were apparently catching on even before the Yummy Book was published. They were first sold by Ladabie’s Bakery in Lewiston (now Maine’s second biggest city) in 1925.

Ladabie’s Bakery is in the same location today. You can even order whoopie pies online at labadiesbakery.com.

When it comes to sweets, Mainers are Mainiacs.

If all those sweets make you thirsty, you can always try Moxie, Maine’s official drink. The carbonated beverage was among the first mass-produced soft drinks in the U.S.

Moxie was first created and sold in Lowell, Massachusetts and is currently produced by the Moxie Beverage Company of Bedford, New Hampshire. However, its creator, Dr. Augustin Thompson, was born in Union, Maine, which is now home to a Moxie museum. An annual Moxie Festival is held in Lisbon Falls, Maine (moxiefestival.com).

Maple syrup is yet another symbol many of us crave. (Neighboring Vermont calls maple its official flavor.)

But do Mainers do anything but eat and drink?

In fact, it’s hard to hang on to your whoopie pie when speaking Maine’s official language, American sign language. Actually, it’s the official language of the deaf community.

What would Maine be without an official ship? The schooner Bowdoin is Maine’s official state vessel. Built during the winter of 1920-1921, it is the smallest vessel designed expressly for the arctic. It’s also one of the strongest. After nearly 30 voyages to the Arctic, the Bowdoin is now moored in Castine, Maine.

Maine State Ship

The biggest mystery among Maine’s state symbols is its tartan. Maine reportedly became the first state to adopt a tartan, in 1964. Yet many sources say it doesn’t have an official tartan.

Making things still more confusing, there are apparently three different Maine tartans. Actually, there are now four, including mine (below).

Maine GeoTartan
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