Nebraska – The Nebraskan

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 journey to Nebraska, where the farming is as good as it gets. This had bred nicknames such as Cornhusker State and Beef State, which sounds like the makings of a good meal. Let’s start exploring:

Motto: “Equality before the law” – How’s that working out for you?

Food: The Reuben Sandwich was invented at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha. Comprised of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian/Thousand Island dressing, between slices of rye bread, the meal has become a favourite of the Sip Advisor. Some origin stories have the sandwich being created in New York, but I’ll give this one to Nebraska.

Drink: Bringing smiles to children everywhere for nearly 100 years, Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska by Edwin Perkins in 1927. Originally available in six flavours (cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry), it has become the State Soft Drink. The Hastings Museum has a permanent exhibit called Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream.

Kool-Aid

Site to See: One of Nebraska’s most notable attractions is Carhenge, a duplication of England’s Stonehenge, but using American vehicles to replicate the infamous stones. Other car-based art installments are also viewable at the site. Created by Jim Reinders, the work is highlighted in the documentary, Carhenge: Genius or Junk?

Street: The Old Market Historic District, in Omaha, is notable for its brick-paved streets, which are still used by horse-drawn carriages. Restaurants, art galleries and shopping options make up the tenancy of the area. In 2016, a ruptured gas line caused an explosion in the Old Market, destroying a 100-year-old building and injuring numerous people.

TV Show: Most TV shows set in Nebraska haven’t faired well. One, Bless This Mess, did last two seasons, before being cancelled this past May. The series starred Dax Shepard and Lake Bell in a modern take on Green Acres, with a couple moving from New York to a farm in fictional Bucksnort, after inheriting the property and deciding to stay.

Movie: Films have done better when set in Nebraska, including one of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourites. Caddyshack, the goofy golf classic, starring legends like Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase, has the Bushwood Country Club based in the state. While the sequel was a flop, the original has so many quotable lines and memorable scenes.

Caddyshack

Book/Author: Writer Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha. His works, of the romantic drama genre, include The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Dear John. A total of 11 of his books have been adapted into films, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Sparks has had 15 novels top the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Fictional Character: Penny Hofstadter, the across-the-hall hottie from The Big Bang Theory, is originally from Nebraska. Giving hope to nerds everywhere, she eventually dates and marries uber nerd Leonard. Played by Kaley Cuoco, Penny moves to California with dreams of becoming an actress. She may not have found the career she wanted, but she did find love.

Fictional City: Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (short story and film series) takes place in the town of Gatlin, a place you wouldn’t really want to find yourself, particularly if you’re an adult. Under the guidance of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” the children begin ritualistically sacrificing adults, hoping for a bountiful corn harvest.

Actor/Actress: Movie legends Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda were born in Omaha and Grand Island, respectively. Connecting the two, Brando’s mother gave Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Other notable stars from the state include Fred Astaire, Nick Nolte and Hilary Swank.

Nicholas Sparks

Song: Bruce Springsteen has a song and album called Nebraska, but the song is about a spree killer sentenced to death, while the album is full of tracks about characters with not much to live for. Therefore, we’ll go with State Song, Beautiful Nebraska, for this category. Lyrics include, “We are so proud of this state where we live, There is no place that has so much to give.”

Band/Musician: The consensus seems to be that the best band from Nebraska is Bright Eyes, although I’ve never heard of the indie rock group. Formed in Omaha, 2004 was a big year for the band, touring with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., and filling the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart, with songs Lua and Take It Easy (Love Nothing).

People: Nebraska was the birthplace for a future president and vice-president, as well as the founder of a religion. President Gerald Ford and VP Dick Cheney were born in Omaha and Lincoln, respectively, while Church of Scientology forefather L. Ron Hubbard hailed from Tilden.

Animal: While mammoth fossils have been found all across Nebraska, the largest and most famous was uncovered in Lincoln, in 1922. Nicknamed Archie, the skeleton can be seen at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Mammoths are the State Fossil of Nebraska and a bronze statue of Archie is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Hubbard

Invention: Two of Nebraska’s greatest creations allow users to cut corners. TV Dinners, first made commercially successful by Nebraskan company, Swanson, helps folks avoid having to cook full meals for themselves and others. Meanwhile, CliffsNotes, developed by Clifton Hillegass of the Nebraska Book Company, allows students to prepare for tests without completing the source material.

Crime: Charlie Starkweather was only 19 when he went on a murder spree, killing 10 people in Nebraska and Wyoming. He was accompanied by his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Fugate. Starkweather was sentenced to death for his crimes and was executed by electric chair. Fugate served a 17-year sentence, despite claiming she was a hostage. The spree inspired movies such as Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers.

Law: In Omaha, sneezing in church is illegal, while across the state, if a child burps during a service, their parent(s) could be arrested. A rebellious teenager could cause a lot of trouble with a simple bodily function.

Sports Team: With no professional teams to support, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers are the top game in the state. In fact, home football games make the stadium the third largest population in Nebraska. Omaha has also been home to the College World Series for NCAA baseball since 1950.

TV Dinners

Athlete: Professional wrestler, Gorgeous George (real name George Wagner), is my pick here, not for his athletic abilities, but for his influence on sports and athletes to come after him. Wagner was born in Butte and revolutionized the wrestling industry as the first villainous character. George would be influential to many athletes and entertainers, Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan and James Brown among them.

Famous Home: Scout’s Rest Ranch is the former home of William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, who first promoted his Wild West Shows in Nebraska, beginning in 1883. These shows would later feature such celebrities as Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. The ranch can be found at the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte, which functions as a living history museum.

Urban Legend: Hatchet House (formerly Portal School) can be found in Papillion. The story goes that a teacher one day snapped and decapitated her entire class, leaving their heads on their desks. She then took their hearts to what is now known as Heartbeat Bridge, throwing them into the water below. Driving over the bridgeboards makes sounds that resemble beating hearts.

Museum: The National Museum of Roller Skating, in Lincoln, has a massive collection of skates, wheels and other items, dating back to 1819. Exhibits include Inline Skating, Artistic Skating, Roller Hockey, Speed Skating, and Roller Derby. Admission is free, but memberships with special perks are also available.

roller-skating

Firsts: Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska City, on April 10, 1872. The brainchild of J. Sterling Morton, it’s estimated that one million trees were planted across Nebraska that day. This earned the state the nickname Tree Planter’s State for some time. The holiday was later spread to other parts of the world by Birdsey Northrop of the American Forestry Association.

Company: Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, founded by Nebraskan Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world and among the most savvy investors. The conglomerate owns brands such as GEICO, Duracell, and Dairy Queen, while also investing heavily in Kraft Heinz, American Express, Coca-Cola, and Apple, among other businesses.

Events: Also headquartered in Omaha is the Union Pacific Railroad, which was founded in 1862. From this home base, the railroad connected the country through miles and miles of tracks, becoming the first transcontinental line in America. Today, grain, corn, sand, fertilizer, and coal are among the top items shipped into and out of the state.

Miscellaneous: Despite being a landlocked state, Nebraska has its own navy. The state has had some fun with the concept, appointing admirals such as Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Gates, Big Bird, Bill Murray, and many others to the position for promoting the “good life of the state of Nebraska.”

The Nebraskan

The Nebraskan

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Sweet Corn Milk
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper

Given its association with the state, I wanted to go with a Kool-Aid-based cocktail, but the most notable one has already appeared on this site. So, I went with The Nebraskan, which is quite the interesting blend of ingredients, highlighted by corn, perfect for the Cornhusker State.

March 14 – Nutty Irishman

Party Places

To this day, the Sip Advisor is still proud to say that he not only celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, live from Dublin, Ireland… but that he also survived the trip! You don’t have to go all the way to the Emerald Island to get your green on, though. Here are the Top 5 most unique St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, from around the world:

#5: Prohibited Partying

The idea of a dry St. Patrick’s Day celebration seems absolutely ridiculous, but that’s exactly what the officials of Hoboken, New Jersey have tried to accomplish with their annual parade. Public intoxication has grown to such extremes for the event that a zero tolerance policy was enacted. To the Sip Advisor, it all just sounds like a challenge: to get as wasted as possible, while avoiding the establishment and their exorbitant ($2,000 minimum) fines. It would be like the alcoholic version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!

meanwhile-in-ireland

#4: Shamrock Shake

In the otherwise non-descript town of O’Neill, Nebraska, is the world’s largest shamrock. The massive clover was originally painted in the middle of the road, at the intersection of Route 281 and Highway 20. It has since been reinstalled as coloured concrete, ensuring its prosperity. Founded by Irish national, John O’Neill, the place celebrates in some unique ways, including a Children’s Literature Festival, the reading of Dr. Seuss’s ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ and a massive fish fry.

#3: High Flying

This one may be hard for the average person to achieve, as I’m sure you need some serious credentials just to be launched into space. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield didn’t let floating high above the world, aboard the International Space Station in 2013, disrupt his celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Hadfield decked himself out in green, performed the song “Danny Boy,” and snapped some photos of Ireland from outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Green Meaning

#2: Fun in the Sun

The island of Montserrat – part of the West Indies – is known as the “Emerald Island of the Caribbean.” It is one of the few places in the world, outside of Ireland, where St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday (Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, being the others). How did this Caribbean nation become a hot bed of Irish activity and celebration? Well, it was established by Irish refugees, duh! If you visit, your passport will be stamped with a shamrock and you can celebrate a weeklong St. Patrick’s Day festival with a calypso flavour.

#1: Short and Sweet

While the St. Patrick’s Day parade I witnessed in Dublin wasn’t the most thrilling thing I’ve ever seen, it did provide a taste of Irish culture. The festivities in Dripsey, Cork, may have been more up my alley, though. Dripsey is home to the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, stretching just 100 yards and starting from one of the town’s pubs, while finishing at the other. That means, you can grab a pint of Guinness at the start and be ready for another round at the finish!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Nutty Irishman

Nutty Irishman Shot

  • Rim glass with Nuts
  • 0.75 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.75 oz Frangelico
  • Garnish with Nuts

Where have you celebrated St. Patrick’s Day? If you’ve hit any of the preceding places, let the Sip Advsior know how it was. You never know where our next travel plans will take us!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I was hoping to rim the glass with Lucky Charms, but I couldn’t justify shelling out $7 for a box of cereal that I don’t really need. The shot was pretty good and any lover of nutty flavours will enjoy it. Best of all, I got to enjoy a ton of Honey Roasted Peanuts in the process of making the shooter!

August 8 – Killer Kool-Aid

Beverage of State

Did you know that a number of American states have an official beverage? That’s right, on top of having state flowers and birds, more than half of the country’s states have gone to the trouble of selecting an official drink as well. While an overwhelming number of those states have taken the easy and politically correct route of naming milk as their bevvy of choice, here are the states that chose to shake things up and ruffle some feathers (of birds… hopefully roughly… stupid birds).

Nebraska – Kool-Aid

Nebraska lamed out a little by also choosing milk as their official beverage, but they did select Kool-Aid as their state soft drink. When I was a little sipper, I knew I was destined for a life of mixology thanks to the experiments I conducted with Kool-Aid. I mixed it with a number of ingredients, searching for the next great recipe. Pepsi and Kool-Aid, or as I called it, Kontaminated Kool-Aid, provided my most favourable results.

Kool-Aid

Alabama – Conecuh Ridge Whiskey

How awesome would it be to live in a place that’s official drink was freakin’ Whiskey?! I must admit, though, I’m a little surprised that Alabama didn’t go with Moonshine as their most famous liquid offering, but I guess they had to play a little nice with the process. Good on ya, Alabama!

Massachusetts – Cranberry Juice

I guess the fine folks of Massachusetts have some serious urinary issues if they’ve chosen Cranberry Juice as their official drink. Hey, whatever keeps them healthy and happy. Cranberry Juice does factor into a lot of cocktails, so perhaps they were onto something when choosing this mixer.

Florida – Orange Juice

This is a bit of a no-brainer as Florida is renowned for their Orange Juice. I wonder if O.J. Simpson was on hand for the ceremony making the juice the official beverage of the state. This would, of course, be years before his legal troubles, but being born in California he might be partial to that states orange juice history.

orange-juice

Rhode Island – Coffee Milk

Rhode Island wanted to follow suit with much of the country, but also tried to remain unique by picking Coffee Milk. I’m supposing this means much of the state runs around with a caffeine buzz leading to insomnia and a rash of Starbucks popping up to capitalize on the movement. My take on coffee and its subsidiaries can be found here.

Maine – Moxie

Moxie is Maine’s official soft drink and is made with the bitter tasting gentian root extract. While it is Maine’s state soft drink because creator Dr. Augustin Thompson was born in the state, the drink was actually produced in Massachusetts… I smell a blood feud!

Indiana – Water

How boring of a selection is this!? It’s like it didn’t even try! Don’t get me wrong, I love my H2O and whenever I’m not consuming alcohol, I’m downing the clear stuff to balance myself out, but come on… couldn’t they settle on something with even the slightest intrigue? Shame, Indiana… kind of sounds like a cool place to live.

diet water

New Hampshire – Apple Cider

An interesting selection, indeed… apparently this decision grew from a student campaign (their teacher wanted to get kids interested in government and show them they have a voice even at their useless age!) and even Facebook page to get the government to make it all official.

South Carolina – State-Grown Tea

I’m assuming this could be used in either hot or iced tea, but perhaps I’d cause an international incident for drinking one and not the other. South Carolina is another state that picked milk as its official beverage, but State-Grown Tea is their State Hospitality Beverage… yes, such a thing exists.

Ohio – Tomato Juice

This kind of reminds me of the Simpsons episode where the town of Shelbyville is forced to worship a turnip tree (once Springfield gets its precious lemon tree back) and the citizens can’t stand eating the vile vegetable. I’m curious as to how many people actually drink the official beverage of their state regularly. P.S.: Tomato Juice is gross!

Drink #220: Killer Kool-Aid

Aug 8

  • Rim glass with Kool-Aid Powder
  • 1 oz Vodka (I used Grey Goose Cherry Noir)
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

I’m surprised more states haven’t named an official beverage. California could choose wine, given its wonderful wine regions. Washington State could go with Apple Juice thanks to the production industry there. Finally, Michigan could choose motor oil as a nod to being the home of motor vehicle manufacturing.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have to say that this drink tastes an awful lot like Kool-Aid… plus a little bit of the hard stuff! I used Grey Goose Cherry Noir Vodka, which added a nice flavour with the top shelf spirit and all was well… oh yeah!