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More from the new Arkansas encyclopedia

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OFFICIAL VESSEL: The dutch oven.
  • OFFICIAL VESSEL: The dutch oven.

Officially strange



This is the third in a series on the new Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, by senior editor Nathania Sawyer.

When the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture launched, it had approximately 700 entries. New entries are being added each week, and we project a total of 3,500 to 4,000 entries by the time the project is completed in 2010.

Among the entries in progress are several of the “official state” icons. Did you know that Arkansas has an official state soil? Or that the Dutch oven is the official state cooking vessel?

Here are some of our “officials”:

Anthem — “Arkansas”

Beverage — Milk

Bird — Mockingbird

Cooking Vessel — Dutch Oven

Dance — Square Dance

Flower — Apple Blossom

Fruit and Vegetable — South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato

Gem — Diamond

Insect — Honeybee

Instrument — Fiddle

Mammal — Whitetail Deer

Mineral — Quartz Crystal

Nickname — “The Natural State”

Rock — Bauxite

Soil — Stuttgart Soil Series

Songs — “Oh Arkansas” and “Arkansas You Run Deep in Me”

Tree — Loblolly Pine

The stories behind how these items came to be designated “official” are sometimes colorful. For example, the apple blossom almost lost out to the passion flower in 1901. Mrs. Ed Barton of Searcy is largely credited with the apple blossom’s victory. She personally wrote letters to legislators extolling the virtues of the apple blossom. She also presented each legislator with a shiny red apple along with a note stating, “These are the results of our beautiful apple blossoms, but what is the results of a passion flower? A dried shriveled pod!”


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