Welcome to Fun Facts About the 50 States, where – week by week – I’ll be taking you on a tour around this great nation of ours, providing you with interesting, yet completely useless and probably untrue, information about each of the 50 states.
This week, we’re stopping in the heartland of America to visit Illinois, so let’s get started…
* Illinois became the 21st state on December 3rd, 1818, and – except for Arkansas – is the only state that carries the death penalty for pronouncing the S at the end of the state’s name.
* Politically, Illinois is like 2 states in one. The Chicago area – which is urban and heavily Democratic – and the rest of the state, which is rural and sane.
* Chicago politicians are easily identifiable by their colorful “Bribe me!” lapel pins.
* During the Civil War, Illinois was bitterly divided between those who wanted black people to vote and those who wanted to restrict the franchise to white people and the dead.
* 10% of Illinois’s economy is based on the production of various corn products. The other 90% consists of official “Just wait ’till next year!” logo Cubs merchandise.
* Although Illinois borders both Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, most citizens get their water from large, camel-like humps on their backs.
* Every year, millions of Illinoisans head north to the Wisconsin Dells to spend their money on water parks, souvenirs, and speeding tickets.
* Illinois is currently experiencing rapid population growth because an Illinoisan’s only natural predator is the Wisconsin State Highway Patrol.
* Few people shop at the malls in Illinois due to the twin hazards of high sales taxes and recklessly-driving Blues musicians.
* The first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1895. When completed, it was 9 stories tall and was immediately destroyed by God for using non-union labor.
* At least according to the Teamsters who witnessed the event.
* Thanks to Illinois’s strict gun control laws, you may wander about freely after dark without having to worry about being mugged by a law-abiding citizen.
* Due to the extremely harsh winters in Illinois, natives of the state grow thick coats of fur to protect them from the elements, and are frequently clubbed to death by Alaskan tourists.
* People from Chicago like to brag about their “Chicago-style” pizza, but it’s really just regular pizza sprinkled with bits of people who hired non-union labor.
* Springfield is the capitol of Illinois. While there, be sure to visit Lincoln’s Tomb and Moe’s Tavern.
* The state dance of Illinois is the Square Dance.
* Except in certain parts of Chicago, where it’s the “I NEED CRACK!” jitterbug.
* Chicago was setting for George Romero’s movie “Night of the Voting Dead”.
* The Sears Tower in Chicago is the tallest building in North America and contains enough office space to hold a year’s supply of Twinkies for Michael Moore.
* The state tree of Illinois is the White Oak, which is just plain racist.
* The state snack of Illinois is popcorn. MORE racism!
* The first McDonald’s restaurant opened in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1940 after the McDonald brothers perfected their technique for making thin, round patties out of rat turds and sawdust.
* Early in the church’s history, the Mormons settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, but moved to Utah after the Iroquois Indians gave them smallpox and stole their land.
* During the Civil War, Illinois was home to the notorious Rock Island prison camp, where it’s estimated that over 100,000 Confederate prisoners were either starved to death or denied access to Korans.
* 13% of Illinois’s population is foreign-born. Mostly Irishmen who ran out of money while traveling to Idaho’s annual Spud-Fest.
* People from Chicago must pass a literacy test before they are allowed to vote, which consists of correctly identifying the letter “D”.
* It was the original French settlers who chose the White-Tailed Deer as the Illinois state animal. They looked upon it as a kindred spirit, since it appeared to be raising a white flag while fleeing at the first sign of danger.
* Chicago is home to the world’s largest public library. Sadly, not enough of the books have pictures to make it of any use to the Irish.
* In 1999 the city of Kankakee, Illinois, was voted “America’s Worst Place to Live”. It improved to “America’s Best Place to Live” after the city implemented its “free breast implant” program.
That wraps up the Illinois edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States. Next week we’ll disappointed to learn that there ARE some places where you’re not allowed to drive 200 mph as we visit Indiana.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go eat some popcorn because I’m a racist.
[The complete e-book version of “Fun Facts About the 50 States” is now available at Amazon.com. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free Kindle apps for your web browser, smartphone, computer, or tablet from Amazon.com]