Kansas – The Amelia Earhart

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we travel through Kansas, which presented me with the challenge of differentiating between the state and Kansas City, Missouri. Our focus is on the Sunflower State, so let’s pop some seeds and get right into things:

Motto: “To the stars through difficulties” – Nah, I’d rather take the easy route!

Food: Brought over from Germany, Bierocks are meat pie pockets filled with ground beef, onions, cabbage and spices. They are very popular in Kansas, with many restaurants having them on their menu. Some even call Bierocks the state’s official food.

Drink: The Icee machine was invented in Coffeyville, by Omar Knedlik, a Diary Queen owner at the time. The device allowed for frozen drinks to be served, later being sold to 7-Eleven stores, bringing the world the Slurpee. Today, Icee offers a number of products under three different brands, but has moved its operations to California.

Icee

Site to See: Monument Rocks (aka Chalk Pyramids) are large formations found in Gove County. They comprise one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, which also consist of Mushroom Rock State Park, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and other attractions across the state.

Street: Wyatt Earp Boulevard takes folks through the infamous Dodge City, one of the wildest settlements of the Old West. Of course, Wyatt Earp is the legendary lawman who served Dodge City for a time. A bronze statue of Earp is located along the route.

TV Show: Gunsmoke began as a radio series, before being adapted for TV. The show is one of the longest running in history, airing for 20 seasons and 635 episodes. Starring James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke outlasted 30 other westerns to hit TV screens over that time.

Movie: One of the most beloved films of all-time, The Wizard of Oz, is set in Kansas. “We’re not in Kansas anymore!” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, said by Dorothy Gale to her dog Toto, as the duo find themselves in the mysterious land of Oz, following a tornado that hits the family farm. Remember, there’s no place like home.

Wizard of Oz

Book/Author: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, is a non-fiction account of the 1959 Clutter family murders in Holcomb. The book has gone on to become the second-best-selling true crime work ever and is thought to be among the originators of the genre.

Fictional Character: On the lighter side of the Kansas literary world, Dennis the Menace comics are also set in the state. Dennis Mitchell, the young troublemaker and thorn in the side of Mr. Wilson, is from a suburb of Wichita. Despite his penchant for causing chaos, Dennis means well and he is only a kid, after all.

Fictional City: Smallville, home to Clark Kent and other characters of the Superman universe, is located in Kansas. In the Smallville TV series, it’s established the town is located west of Wichita and southwest of Dodge City.

Actor/Actress: Dennis Hopper was born in Dodge City. His most famous roles include Easy Rider (which he also directed), Blue Velvet, and Hoosiers. Hopper made a great villain, playing that role in a trio of 1990’s films: Super Mario Bros., Speed and Waterworld. Sadly, Hopper died in May 2010, following a battle with cancer.

Dennis the Menace

Song: Home on the Range is the State Song of Kansas, with lyrics written by Kansan Dr. Brewster M. Higley, in the poem My Western Home. Crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra have recorded versions of the folk tune, as have numerous other musicians.

Band/Musician: It wasn’t difficult picking a musical act from Kansas, as one named after the state immediately jumped to mind. Kansas was formed in 1973, in Topeka. Best known for their hits Dust in the Wind and Carry On Wayward Son, the band is still performing together.

People: Iconic aviator, Amelia Earhart, was born in Atchison. She became the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, both as a passenger and on her own. With all the mystery surrounding her disappearance in 1937, as she attempted to fly around the world, Earhart has remained an intriguing figure. The 2009 film Amelia, starring Hilary Swank, documented Earhart’s life.

Animal: Touchdown I to XI were real-life bobcats who were the animal mascot of the Kansas State University Wildcats from 1922-1978. This was after coach Charles Bachman renamed the team, ushering in the Wildcats era.

Amelia Earhart

Invention: The first patented helicopter design was developed by William Purvis and Charles Wilson, in Goodland, in 1910. While the project was abandoned by both inventors by the time the patent was approved, the work of Purvis and Wilson eventually led others to fully realize a flying helicopter.

Crime: Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK Killer (for bind, torture, kill), murdered 10 people in Wichita between 1974 and 1991. Rader taunted police with a series of letters, describing the crimes. He was eventually arrested in 2005 and pled guilty, receiving a punishment of 10 consecutive life sentences. Also from Kansas, the Bloody Benders were America’s first serial killer family, with a body count of more than 20 between 1869 to 1873.

Law: At one point, it was illegal to serve ice cream on cherry pie. Poor, poor, cherries, always the victims of discrimination.

Sports Team: NCAA basketballs squads, including the University of Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State University Wildcats, are the most popular sporting outlet in the state. Kansans also support the teams of Kansas City, Missouri, with stadiums located close to the Kansas border.

Helicopter

Athlete: Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Barry Sanders, was born in Wichita. Over a 10-year career, Sanders was a Pro Bowl selection every season he played, earning the NFL’s MVP award in 1997. Sanders surprisingly retired in 1999, at the age of 30 and still healthy. He is thought to be one of the greatest running backs ever.

Famous Home: Technically a home to those incarcerated there, Leavenworth Penitentiary was opened in 1903, as one of three original federal prisons built across the U.S. Famous inmates have included gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, NFL star Michael Vick and James Earl Ray, who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.

Urban Legend: Fort Leavenworth has been called the “most haunted army base in the United States”, thanks to sites such as the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery and the demolished United States Disciplinary Barracks. Hauntings include the ghost of Catherine Sutter searching the cemetery for her missing son and daughter and phone calls being traced back to a barracks tower that had no phone line, following the suicide of a soldier there.

Museum: In Topeka, folks can find the Evel Knievel Museum, which houses the largest collection of memorabilia for the famous daredevil, as well as interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to experience virtual reality stunt jumps. If that’s not your type of thing, there’s also the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum, in La Crosse.

Evel-Knievel

Firsts: Actress Hattie McDaniel, born in Wichita, was the first African-American to win an Oscar, thanks to her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Perhaps even more notable, McDaniel was the first woman to sing over the radio in the U.S.

Company: AMC Theatres, the largest theatre chain in the world, is headquartered in Leawood. The company recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Also of note, restaurant chains Pizza Hut and White Castle were both founded in Kansas, before moving their operations to other states.

Events: The landmark Brown v. Board of Education legal battle was launched in Topeka. The end result was the racial desegregation of public schools across the country. Monroe Elementary School, where the conflict first began, is now known as the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.

Miscellaneous: Kansas is home to the geographic center of the United States (among the 48 mainland states). A small monument near the city of Lebanon marks this spot. The spot is used in the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman, as a neutral place where warring modern and old gods can meet.

The Amelia Earhart

The Amelia Earhart

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Crème de Violette
  • Add Strawberry Puree
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice

It’s no surprise that one of Kansas’ most famous citizens would have a cocktail named in her honour. What is surprising is that there are so many variations of the drink, with largely the same result. I went with the most common of these recipes and it made for a good beverage.

Flavour Revolution – Peppermint

Stripped and Striped

Candy canes are one of many infamously striped items we enjoy in our daily life. Here are some of the other striped wonders the world has brought us:

Referees

Love them or hate them – and really, only a mother could love them – referees are a necessary element to most sports (albeit completely useless in baseball where computers can better detect balls and strikes). I have a theory that refs dress like zebras so fans can easily identify exactly where to direct their venomous hatred, when they feel their team has been wronged.

ref screws team

Sports Jerseys

Many teams out there on the sports landscape feature some kind of striping in their choice of jersey colours. Perhaps the most famous squad to don stripes (or in this case, pinstripes), is the New York Yankees. An urban legend exists that the Yankees adopted the pinstripe look to make portly star Babe Ruth look slimmer, but in actuality, the style was already used well before Ruth joined the franchise.

Clothes

Of course, the clothing industry is an obvious choice for striped items and some of the most iconic characters in pop culture have been known to wear these materials. Ronald McDonald sports striped socks. Similarly, two sociopaths, Dennis the Menace and Freddy Krueger, traditionally rock striped shirts. Some people think stripes don’t look good on them, while others don the look regularly.

Animals

The animal kingdom is full of creatures with stripes, including zebras, bumble bees, Bengal tigers, fish, raccoons, and even skunks. Therefore, Pepe Le Pew, Nemo, and Rocket Raccoon are among some of the popular characters that have streaks. And don’t forget that poor little kitty that always manages to accidentally gain stripes and become a target for Pepe Le Pew’s unwanted advances.

skunks as cats

Candy Stripers

I had to be careful not to type candy “strippers”, which is far more appealing than a trip to the hospital! Candy Stripers are often hospital volunteers, decked out in red and white striped uniforms. The whole concept originated in East Orange, New Jersey, all the way back in 1944, when a high school civics class project designed the uniforms to be used at the East Orange General Hospital.

Watermelons

My favourite fruit has a distinct striped pattern on its outer shell, which can be a telltale sign as to whether the melon is ripe, so long as the area between the stripes is light green. As beautiful as a watermelon looks on the outside, what we really care about is the delicious fruit inside. Watermelons should be a symbol of harmony and acceptance, because it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Crosswalks

We use them every day – not that some drivers seem to really care or notice – to “safely” moved about the world. The most famous sidewalk in existence is likely the one The Beatles crossed on their Abbey Road album cover. Since its release, thousands of Beatle-files have tried to recreate the scene, including the Sip Family… and we looked pretty good doing it.

zebra-crosswalk

Billiards Balls

Solids versus stripes… like gang warfare, that’s what the game of billiards really comes down to. The first player to sink a ball (whether it be a solid 1-7 or a striped 9-15), then works the rest of the contest to eliminate the other balls that match the ball they originally pocketed. At times, I’ve been a decent pool player, but I’m no master of the parlor game. I’ll definitely never be a pool hall hustler!

Barber Poles

Back in the day, these red, white, and blue striped poles were essential in identifying locations where one could get their hair cut… that and the many customers emerging from the shops with fresh dos. Today, the barber pole is a thing of the past. I personally blame the Barber Shop movie franchise, but that might be reaching a little.

Jail Uniforms

Up until orange jumpsuits (Orange is the New Black, after all) became the norm, we associated black and white striped clothing with criminals. This is because the uniforms were a “badge of shame” and were only changed when rehabilitation of prisoners began to be favoured over punishment. That said, to this day, if you want to dress up as a jailbird for Halloween, a black and white striped costume will do.

inmate_apparel

Flags

Most national banners out there feature a striped pattern of sorts. Most notably perhaps, is the American flag, which is iconic for its 50 stars – each representing a state within the union – and also its red and white alternating stripes. Many other countries flags are comprised of stripes, such as the United Kingdom, Greece, Cuba, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and others.

Circus Tents

After American Horror Story: Freakshow, I can’t look at circus tents the same anymore, but striping is a traditional feature of the big top venues. When the Cirque du Soleil tour comes to the city each year, everyone knows its location thanks to the colourful tent that pops up in downtown Vancouver. It also helps that it’s located in the same spot annually, but the tent definitely draws attention.

Flavour Revolution: Crème de Candy Cane

  • 1.5 oz Burnett’s Candy Cane Vodka
  • 1 oz Crème de Cacao
  • Top with Milk
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Candy Cane

Really, a striped pattern could be featured on absolutely anything. As for entries with “stripe” in their name, there’s the rock band The White Stripes and the Jamaican lager Red Stripe. Lastly, the main baddie in Gremlins is also named Stripe, thanks to his tuft of white hair.

Flavour Revolution – Vanilla

Vanilla Ice

For the Glazed Donut Liqueur article I posted recently, I looked into some of the companies that make a living hawking sugary pastry treats. Now that we’ve entered vanilla country, said to be the most popular ice cream flavour around the world, I’d thought we should delve into the ice cream biz and some of its biggest players. Let’s hope we can get through before out treats melt!

Dairy Queen

Mrs. Sip and I are fans of the Blizzard, which was introduced in 1985 – 45 years after the chain opened. I always feel kind of bad for Dairy Queen, though. Try as they might, the chain will never be viewed as a place for food and will largely remain a place people go for dessert after eating elsewhere. I’d still love to see Dairy Queen and Burger King enter into a partnership, providing customers with a complete meal on the cheap. I had almost forgotten that Dennis the Menace was once the chain’s spokestoon, a role the character held for 30 years.

Dairy Queen Cone-Artist

Ben & Jerry’s

Launched by childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the two opened their first ice cream parlour in 1978. To celebrate their first anniversary, Ben and Jerry hosted their first ever ‘Free Cone Day’, which has become an annual staple of the company. Some of Ben & Jerry’s creations have capitalized on icons of pop culture, such as Stephen Colbert and the Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream release. Ben and Jerry are no longer part of the day-to-day operation of the company they founded, but still remain the faces of the brand.

Baskin-Robbins

Boasting 31 flavours, allowing customers to have a different taste each day of the month, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest ice cream chain. It was started in 1945 by the team of Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins and in the seven decades since they first opened, the company has created and carried over 1,000 flavours. Baskin and Robbins believed that customers should be able to try as many flavours as they wanted before committing for a full cone or cup and that’s why the chain has their famous mini pink spoons.

Baskin-Robbins Bikini Season

Cold Stone Creamery/Marble Slab Creamery

I combine these two companies because they are both relatively new to the ice cream game and they deliver similar signature products – ice cream combined with various toppings for a delicious result. While Cold Stone has enjoyed growth in recent years, thanks to partnering with other franchises, such as Tim Hortons, Soup Kitchen International, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Marble Slab is actually five years old, having been founded in 1983. Today, Cold Stone has close to double the outlets Marble Slab does, but Marble Slab has expanded more into the international market, than its doppelganger.

Dippin’ Dots

The ‘Ice Cream of the Future’ (little pebble-like ice cream balls) is incredibly fun to eat… and there are actually about 2,000 of them in a 5oz cup. Dippin’ Dots are created by flash freezing ice cream in liquid nitrogen and was invented by microbiologist Curt Jones in 1987. Going with today’s featured flavour, the first taste Jones invented was vanilla. Since then, numerous flavours have been added to the company’s line-up, including mint chocolate, banana split, and the franchise’s most popular option: cookies and crème. No wonder they’ve found their way to being served around the world!

Flavour Revolution: The Turtle Dove

  • 2 oz Wiser’s Vanilla Spiced Whiskey
  • Top with Grapefruit Juice
  • Splash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Grapefruit Bitters
  • Dash of Vanilla Extract
  • Garnish with a Grapefruit Slice

In closing, we have to ask: Is vanilla really that boring? Sure, we give things that aren’t so flashy the moniker of being “vanilla,” but there’s actually a really nice flavour to the stuff. And is any ingredient that can be combined with whiskey really that boring?