Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Delaware became the first state in the union, ratifying the constitution in 1787. Also known as the Diamond State, as Thomas Jefferson allegedly called Delaware a jewel for its location, let’s see if that endorsement rings true:
Motto: “Liberty and independence” – Someone was using their thesaurus.
Food: Scrapple, described by some as similar to SPAM, is comprised of pork scraps mixed with breading and spices, turning it into a loaf. It is then sliced and fried, prior to being served. The dish is so popular in Delaware, that the Apple Scrapple Festival has been held annually, in Bridgeville, since 1992.
Drink: Dogfish Head Brewery, based in Milton, has been in operation since 1995. Known for their experimental brews, the company’s wares can be found across much of the U.S. They also have two restaurants located in Rehoboth Beach, as well as alehouses in Maryland and Virginia.
Site to See: Delaware is best known for its beaches, most notably Rehoboth Beach, which has been called “The Nation’s Summer Capital”, thanks to so many visitors travelling to the area each year. Events at Rehoboth include the Independent Film Festival, Sea Witch Festival and Autumn Jazz Festival.
Street: Packet Alley, in New Castle, has been called Delaware’s most historic alley. This is thanks to the famous folks, such as President Andrew Jackson and frontiersman Davy Crockett, who have travelled the path, which connected stagecoaches dropping passengers off at one end, to load riverboats on the other end.
TV Show: Delaware is known for two TV shows, the animated Steven Universe (2013-2019) and action drama The Pretender (1996-2001), both set in fictional locales. Although I haven’t seen either series, they sound watchable by my easygoing tastes.
Movie: Goosebumps, starring Jack Black as author R.L. Stine, gets the nod here for letting the Sip Advisor relive some of his favourite books from childhood on the big screen. Set in the fictional town of Madison, the real-life Madison, Georgia was used for filming.
Book/Author: John Dickinson, a Founding Father of the country, has been dubbed the Penman of the Revolution, for his works on the independence movement. These included the 1774 Petition to the King, 1775 Olive Branch Petition and 1775 Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.
Fictional Character: Fight Club, at least the book by Chuck Palahniuk, is set in Delaware. That technically makes alter ego Tyler Durden a Delawarean. The leader behind Project Mayhem is a very memorable character… even if he is an imagined split personality.
Fictional City: Metropolis, where Clark Kent works as a reporter at the Daily Planet and saves the world as Superman, is located in, of all places, Delaware. This is based on a number of theories and Easter eggs, including license plates in the movie Superman Returns, being tagged with ‘The First State’ on them.
Actors/Actresses: Elisabeth Shue, born in Wilmington, has enjoyed a long and varied acting career. She starred in such 80’s classics as The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysitting, Cocktail and Back to the Future II. Her most notable role was as a prostitute in Leaving Las Vegas, for which she was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category.
Song: Delaware Slide by George Thorogood and The Destroyers is a close to eight-minute long track that is mostly instrumental. It’s a pretty rocking tune, though, so the length flies by.
Band/Musician: Speaking of Thorogood, the rocker was born in Wilmington. Thorogood has gone on to record hits like Bad to the Bone; I Drink Alone and One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (otherwise known as a Sip Advisor Trifecta). In 1981, Thorogood and The Destroyers completed a 50 shows in 50 states in 50 nights tour.
People: Thomas Garrett was a leader in the Underground Railroad. He nearly lost his fortune in the battle for Civil Rights for African-Americans, after being sued and fined for helping slaves escape their masters. Despite the perils, Garrett continued to help, freeing thousands who later called him their Moses.
Animal: Another nickname for Delaware is Blue Hen State. This traces back to the American Revolutionary War, when the bravery of Delaware soldiers was compared to Blue Hens that were used in cockfighting. The Blue Hen was adopted as the State Bird of Delaware in 1939.
Invention: Delaware native Henry Heimlich invented the Heimlich Maneuver, helping to save countless lives around the world. His lesser known inventions, include the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve and Micro Trach Portable Oxygen System.
Crime: Delaware only has only had one known serial killer in its history. Steven Brian Pennell, aka the Route 40 Killer, was convicted of two murders and thought to be responsible for three others in the late 1980’s. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection and actually argued to have this sentence upheld. The execution took place on March 14, 1992.
Law: It is illegal in Delaware to pawn your wheelchair or any fake limb. Is it okay if it’s not your own?
Sports Team: No professional sports teams hail from Delaware, but the Dover International Speedway can be found there. Nicknamed the Monster Mile, it opened in 1969 and has hosted at least two NASCAR races every year since. The track has a maximum capacity of 135,000 spectators.
Athlete: Elena Delle Donne, of the WNBA, was born in Wilmington. After playing college basketball for the University of Delaware Blue Hens, she was drafted second overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Delle Donne’s pro career has seen her win the WNBA Rookie of the Year award, two WNBA MVP titles and one WNBA Championship. She’s also the only female to join the exclusive 50-40-90 Club for successful shot percentages in a season, among eight NBA stars.
Famous Home: Nemours Mansion and Gardens, in Wilmington, was built by Alfred I. du Pont in the early 1900’s as a gift for his second wife. The French-style chateau features 105 rooms, filled with valuable furniture, antiques, art and tapestries. The grounds are patterned after France’s Gardens of Versailles and include a hedge maze, reflecting pool and “Temple of Love”, which has my interest piqued.
Urban Legend: Fort Delaware was a prison camp during the Civil War, holding more than 30,000 soldiers during that time. Approximately 10 per cent of those incarcerated, died from diseases such as dysentery and malaria. The spirits of the dead are said to haunt the site, which today offers 90-minute tours for entertainment purposes.
Museum: The Museum of Business History and Technology, in Wilmington, is loaded with antique typewriters, cash registers, telephones, clocks, and other office devices. I imagine it would give you a real appreciation for how much the working world has evolved, for better or worse.
Firsts: Called the “first American flag”, upholsterer Betsy Ross’ design of 13 alternating red and white stripes and 13 white stars on a blue background (both signifying the original 13 colonies to join the union), was first flown at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, in Delaware, on September 3, 1777.
Company: DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, is responsible for the creation of nylon, neoprene, Teflon, Mylar, Kevlar, Lycra, and other synthetic fibers. The company has been integral to Delaware’s existence in a symbiotic relationship, with the DuPont family being worth billions of dollars today.
Events: As the first colony to ratify the American constitution, independence – and the battle for it – played a great role in shaping Delaware. With the debate on separating from the British deadlocked, Delawarean Caesar Rodney rode 70 miles from Dover to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote. The Declaration of Independence was signed soon after.
Miscellaneous: Delaware was the only state with no National Park System units (which includes national parks, historic sites, battlefields, memorials, monuments, etc.), until 2013, when President Barack Obama designated the First State National Monument (later the First State National Historical Park) as one.
- 2 oz Orange Vodka
- 1 oz Triple Sec
- Top with Orange Juice
- Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
- Garnish with an Orange Slice
Although it was invented in Maryland, the Orange Crush is a popular cocktail on the beaches of Delaware. Recipes I saw insisted you use fresh-squeezed OJ, so who am I to challenge that kind of logic and reason? The drink was pretty good and I can understand its admiration.