I'm sure that state Sen. Richard Colburn had nothing but good intentions when he introduced legislation to make the soft shell crab sandwich the official state sandwich. But on top of the normal controversies that swirl around any state symbol legislation, this one is a bit cannibalistic because we have already made the Maryland Blue Crab the state crustacean.
Shouldn't our state symbols hold a place of honor instead of a place at the lunch counter?
According to the Maryland Manual, however, the Maryland Blue Crab's official name is Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, named after scientist Mary Jane Rathbun who described the species in 1896. But, according to the Manual, "The blue crab's scientific name translates as 'beautiful swimmer that is savory.'"
Am I the only one who finds something a bit off about a name that highlights not only the crustacean's natural, God-given abilities with the fact that it is also good to eat? But that's a topic for another day.
Apparently some folks have taken exception to Colburn's proposed legislation because they think the crab cake sandwich should be our state sandwich. I think we should pick something that doesn't cannibalize from one of our other state symbols. Harry's famous hot dogs come to mind as a good alternative.
For those keeping score, here is a list of our state symbols according to the Maryland Manual:
Our state exercise is walking; adopted in 2008.
Our state dessert is Smith Island cake; adopted in 2008.
Our state gem is the Patuxent River Stone; adopted in 2004.
Our state team sport is lacrosse; adopted in 2004. There was a big battle over this one because jousting was made the state's official sport in 1962, so in order to get around the fact that lawmakers made lacrosse the official "team sport."
Our state horse is the thoroughbred; adopted in 2003. We got that one mainly due to the Preakness, which is about the only place that you can hear the state song, Maryland, My Maryland, played every year prior to the second leg of horse racing's famous triple crown.
Our state cat is the calico; adopted in 2001. This cat was chosen, apparently, because its colors match our state flag.
Our official drink is milk; adopted in 1998.
The oldest state symbol is the state flower, the black-eyed Susan, which has held that honor since 1918.
Our state bird is the Oriole, adopted in 1947. If the Ravens beat New England today and go to the Super Bowl we might want to consider a jousting duel between the two species to see which retains the right to be the official state bird. Of course, the Orioles have made it to the World Series six times and won three times since their arrival in Baltimore, so perhaps the Ravens will need a couple more Super Bowl appearances and wins before they can legitimately challenge for a change of the state bird.
While we're on the topic of ravens, though, how about making Edgar Allan Poe our official state poet?
Our state dog is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, adopted in 1964. Given the battles over Bay cleanup and environmental policies, it is probably good that we have a dog in that fight.
Our state insect is the Baltimore Checkerspot; adopted in 1973.
Our state boat is the skipjack; adopted in 1985.
Our state folk dance is the square dance; adopted in 1994. Grab your partners and do si do.
Our state dinosaur is the astrodon johnstoni; adopted in 1998. Apparently this species lived in Maryland 95 to 130 million years ago. Perhaps in another hundred million years we will be named the state's official Homo sapien.
Our official state reptile is the Diamondback Terrapin; adopted in 1994. Don't let Sen. Colburn know this or he may propose legislation making turtle soup the official state soup.
Our state fish is the rockfish; adopted in 1965.
Our state summer theater is Olney Theatre; adopted in 1978.
Our state theater is Center Stage; adopted in 1978. I don't know, but suspect that there was a battle over those in 1978 which led to the two different designations. Perhaps Sandy Oxx can ask our delegation to submit legislation making the Carroll Arts Center the official state arts center, since no one has claimed that designation yet.
We also have a state tree, the white oak, and a state fossil shell, the Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae.
Many people over the years have lamented the fact that lawmakers spend time debating adoption of these state symbols when they should be working on things like the budget. I look at it another way: The more time they spend on state symbols, the less time they will have to consider things that will hurt me, like tax increases. So let's get working on a state vegetable, state side dish, state snack, state cow, state chicken, state house design and whatever else we can think of to keep lawmakers busy this legislative session.