Consider the soft-shell crab sandwich. What is its rightful place among the other cherished, official Maryland state symbols like lacrosse, Smith Island Cake and walking?
Is it, as Sen. Ron Young believes, "a joke?" Or, is it, as Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller believes, both unique to Maryland and "divine?"
Hearings were held Thursday on whether to establish the dish as the official state sandwich. Before they began, sandwich advocates distributed the multi-layer confection that was designated as the state cake in 2008. Sales of Smith Island Cakes, they argued, have been helped by the state designation. The same distinction for the soft-shell crab sandwich could be used as a marketing tool to help waterman struggling to keep their industry alive, supporters argue.
Miller, sounding like a pitchman, told reporters Thursday he "whole-heartedly" backs the state sandwich.
"Anybody who has seen a soft-shell crab sandwich knows it's very unique." Miller said. "No other state is going to have it, or want it, quite frankly, especially on the looks. On taste, it's simply divine. Divine."
After supporters finished their pitch in a senate hearing later in the day, Sen. Ron Young, a Democrat from Fredrick, said intense marketing of soft-shell crabs would simply drive up the price. As a matter of principle, he said, he will refuse to cast a vote on the bill at all.
"I think it's a joke," Young said.