Each state has a set of symbols such as a flag, flower, tree, and an animal or bird. Often, though, a certain product rather than a symbol is most identified with a state. This is true of Kentucky bourbon, Texas oil, and Florida oranges.
Products — such as particular crops, food products, technologies, or natural resources — come to symbolize a place for different reasons. Often, states have a unique — or abundant — natural resource. In other cases, a state’s history has become intertwined with a specific product. Or, a state’s economy is dependent on one particular product. Some state economies are more diverse, and so a product is iconic because of the tastes of its residents. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most iconic product in each state.
While 24/7 Wall St. editors chose only one product in the end, an argument could be made for multiple iconic products in many U.S. states. California, for example, could claim semiconductors, gold, and a wide variety of agricultural products, from avocados to almonds.
Products tend to become iconic in states where that industry thrives. In many cases, a state produces most of the national supply of a certain product — often its iconic one. Florida produces more than 90% of U.S. juicing oranges on a given year, and California’s share of the U.S. wine industry is about the same.
States compete with one another not just for tourists, new residents, and resources, but also for the distinction of being known for a particular product or service. In many cases, the distinction is no longer accurate, at least based on current output. Georgia, the self-described peach state, is a distant third in annual production of the fruit.
In many states, the iconic product is no longer a major part of the state’s economy because of historical trends that caused the product to fade away. Pennsylvania was once the steel capital of the world, but while some plants still operate in the state today, steel is no longer the defining state industry. In Ohio, which once produced close to a third of the nation’s rubber, the industry has all but vanished.
To identify the most iconic product in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed claims made by state officials on government websites, export data, the presence of major companies, the role of products in the history of a state’s economy, and other subjective measures. A state does not have to necessarily lead the nation in production of its iconic product, but it needs to be closely associated with the product in the public’s eye in order to qualify.
These are each state’s most iconic product.