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, it’s time to thrill to the intoxicating aroma of inadequately-maintained industrial landfills as we visit New Jersey. So let’s get started…
* New Jersey became the 3rd state on December 18, 1787 after cutting off the head of Old Jersey and shouting “There can be only ONE!”
* The state song of New Jersey is “I’m From New Jersey”, the only state song which is perfectly adaptable to any state or city with a 3-syllable name. Think of it as “witness protection program friendly”.
* At over 1000 people per square mile, New Jersey has a population density 13 times the US average, the subject of numerous protests by KFCeTP (Kentucky Fried Chickens for the Ethical Treatment of People).
* Newark, New Jersey is the car-theft capital of the world, although the Newark Chamber of Commerce prefers to refer to it as “pre-emptive recycling”.
* Cape May, New Jersey, is the oldest seaside resort in the US and brags that it has “the best fed sharks north of Amity”.
* The state flower of New Jersey is the violet. And before you ask: no, I didn’t accidentally leave out the “n”.
* The state’s name, however, WAS originally a typographical error, when an inattentive clerk mistakenly typed an “s” instead of a “k” on the colony’s application for statehood.
* One exceptionally capitalistic area of New Jersey contains 7 shopping malls in a 25 square mile area and frequently exceeds the EPA limits on perfume particulates.
* New Jersey is America’s second largest producer of industrial chemicals. First, if you include the stuff that’s burning on the rivers.
* Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory, which soon replaced kerosene, whale oil, and natural gas lamps as the “good idea” symbol.
* The first Miss America pageant took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1921, helping to end the dark chapter in American history where beautiful, large-breasted women were routinely shunned and ignored.
* The streets in the game Monopoly are all named for actual streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which are frequently clogged with shoes and tophats.
* New Jersey’s Fort Dix was named for Major General John Adams Dix, and NOT for the fact that it was the last all-male Army base in the US
* Atlantic City, New Jersey has the longest boardwalk in the world. Enough trees were used in its construction to make 10,000 hippies weep in anguish.
* The first Indian reservation in the US was created in New Jersey, which – surprisingly – did NOT trigger a case involving the 8th Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause.
* Union, New Jersey is home to the world’s tallest water tower. At 212 feet tall, it contains enough water to completely clean out three of Michael Moore’s belly-folds.
* New Jersey is the only state in the nation that offers child abuse prevention workshops in every public school. Although you’d think that if they REALLY cared about the kids, they’d just move them out of the state.
* The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey, one of the few times in the state’s history where the use of a baseball bat wasn’t immediately followed by a homicide investigation.
* The first drive-in movie theater was opened Camden, New Jersey, in 1933, less than one year before Camden set the record for “most illegitimate births”.
* Tourism is New Jersey’s second-largest industry, just behind discreet body-disposal.
* The knobbed whelk is the state seashell, not a nickname for New York tourists.
* The first dinosaur skeleton found in the US was discoverd in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Paleontologists theorize that the cause of its death was incorrectly answering the question “What do you mean funny, funny how?”
* Dioxin is New Jersey’s state toxic waste
* Good luck guessing whether that one’s true or not.
* Comedians Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were both born in New Jersey. Their famous comedy routine “Who Do Youse Want Me to Whack First” was later re-written slightly to appeal to a broader audience.
* Singer Whitney Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey, where she first discovered her amazing talent for making dogs howl across three counties.
* Singer Bruce Springsteen was born in Freehold, New Jersey. The city’s residents are the only people who know what he’s actually singing in “Blinded By The Light”
* “Washing with a loofah in the corner to the right”? “Dressed up in a tutu like the mother of my wife”? What the HELL is he singing?
* “The Chairman of the Board” Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. He… I’ve just been handed a note… apparently if I value my kneecaps, I should be keepin’ by yap shut about Mr. Sinatra.
* In New Jersey, “Wawa” refers to a particular chain of convenience stores, NOT to the last sound the guy in your trunk makes before you throw him in the dumpster behind the convenience store.
* The reason people always ask folks from New Jersey “What exit?” is that it’s the only phrase that can’t be mistaken for a criticism of Mr. Sinatra.
That wraps up the New Jersey edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States. Next week we’ll be nervously drumming our fingers on the dashboard while awaiting the arrival of our drug mule near the southern border of New Mexico.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go discuss loan repayment terms with a couple burly gentlemen behind the Wawa.
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