You can look at the penchant each of the fifty states have for adopting Official State ___________ (fill in category) as a time-wasting, foolish exercise, or you can benignly look upon it as an occasion for the various factions and political parties to have a love feast now and then. Typically, legislative acts that specify the official state whatevers are non-controversial. Passing one gives all involved a minor feel-good moment, and it counters any criticism of them as do-nothing or being hopelessly deadlocked.
And the sponsoring legislators can go back to their home district and brag that they got legislation passed that made the New York Finger to be the official state bird of the Empire State!*
There is a little problem, though. Many categories of Official State Whatevers have been filled; in a few cases. overabundantly. Tennessee, for example, has seven State Songs, so they pretty well saturated this category. And a number of states have the same State Bird, betokening a dismal lack of imagination. Multiple states have adopted Cardinals (7) and Mockingbirds (6) as state birds, though Kentucky makes their's the Kentucky Cardinal. What is the species difference? Perhaps a predeliction for mint juleps.
Clearly, new categories of state symbols may provide fertile ground for this type of feel-good legislation. Certainly New Mexico pioneered this by coming up with an Official State Necktie (Bolo), though I have never seen anyone actually wear one. Perhaps this would be novel wear for a prom or a Mardi Gras ball. Honorable mention should be given to Maryland's Official State Sport: Jousting. Well, they're ready for Agincourt re-enactments; but the Orioles and the Ravens need more encouragement.
Part of the attraction for passing these outlandish legislations is that it generates a lot of publicity for the state and the sponsoring legislators. For this reason, an unimaginative state like Ohio might make a Official State Invasive Plant with nary a notice in USA Today, or a miscellany comment on a television news program or PBS which people almost never watch anyway. No, the way to do these Official State Things nowadays is to go over the top. Here's a few possible ideas:
Official State Bikini Top Color: UNC Powder Blue
Official State Weed: Marijuana
Official State Junk Food: Cheetos
Official State Footwear: Fuck-Me Shoes
Official State Hot Air Source: Politicians
Official State Plus-Size Dress Color: Manatee Gray from Target
Official State Dog: Meth Lab
Official State Worm: Nematode
Official State Pork Barrel Project: The Bridge to God Knows Where
Official State Curmudgeon: Oscar the Grouch
Official State Recreational Activity: Strip Poker
Official State Musical Instrument: The Kazoo.
Official State Protective Gear: The Jock Strap
Official State Wrapping Material: UNC Duct Tape
Official State Health Food: The Corndog
Official State Obsession: Basketball
Anyway, I hope you get the idea. You can imagine the impact:
1. People in other states will ask, "Is this real?" or "WTF?"
2. They will immediately envy your state for having such a cool state whatever.
3. The folks back home will be proud and re-elect you and invite you to speak at high school graduations if you sponsored the bill.
4. Tourists will flock, hoping to see some examples of your state's whatever. Well, maybe not the jock strap.
Is this a cunning idea whose time has come? A linguist I consulted said so.
*Here's an idea for New York legislators.