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 to Oklahoma, which received a ton of attention recently, as the place where the Tiger King saga largely took place. Let’s see if the Sooner State has more to offer than Joe Exotic and his cronies:
Motto: “Labor conquers all things” – No, I prefer to be lazy!
Food: Oklahoma has a State Meal, comprised of chicken fried steak, fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, black-eyed peas and pecan pie. While that feast sounds delicious, it has received criticism due to its high calorie count. One senator tried to have the meal repealed, but failed.
Drink: The Lunchbox cocktail (a shot of amaretto topped by orange juice and beer) was created at Edna’s, in Oklahoma City. I’ve featured this drink before and while Edna’s uses Coors Light in their concoction, I refuse to sink to such levels. At Edna’s you can even “Lunchbox up” an order of sweet potato fries, adding an amaretto-marshmallow sauce drizzle to the dish.
Site to See: One of Oklahoma’s top tourist destinations is the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. The zoo is home to nearly 2,000 animals, and is among the oldest zoos in the country, opened in 1902. It offers up close experiences with flamingos, camels, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, sea lions, stingrays, and lorikeets, for additional costs.
Street: The much-loved Route 66 ran through Oklahoma, with the stretch known as Will Rogers Highway. Interstate 40 and State Highway 66 now occupy the path, but travellers can still find such highlights as the Coleman Theatre, Rock Café, Milk Bottle Grocery, many landmark gas stations, and the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, in Clinton.
TV Show: Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter, is set in Oklahoma City. The series ran for three seasons and 46 episodes and was about a hardened detective seeking to turn her life around with the help of her guardian angel. The show’s creator, Nancy Miller, was raised in Oklahoma City and many references about the state were incorporated into the series.
Movie: The Outsiders, starring one of the greatest young ensemble casts ever put together – with Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Ralph Macchio making up the Greasers gang) is set in Tulsa. Based on Oklahoman S.E. Hinton’s novel, the movie is about rival teenage gangs in the mid 1960’s and the fallout from their violence.
Book/Author: Speaking of Hinton, who was only a teenager herself when she wrote The Outsiders, each of her other young adult novels are set in Oklahoma. This includes That Was Then, This Is Now; Rumble Fish; Tex; and Taming the Star Runner. Only the last one hasn’t been adapted into a film. Hinton has been recognized as creating the young adult genre.
Fictional Character: Ponyboy, Sodapop, Darry, Dally, Two-Bit, Johnny… take your pick, The Outsiders are awesome. My favourite of the bunch is the wisecracking Two-Bit, played in the film by Emilio Estevez. A close second for me would be Darry, the leader of bunch, as you can’t go wrong with Patrick Swayze. Stays gold, Greasers.
Fictional City: Pyramid Corners is the setting of TV show The Torkelsons (later renamed Almost Home for its second season, which saw the family relocate to Seattle). The sitcom cast some notable actors in early roles, including Brittany Murphy and Alyson Hannigan, as well as guest appearances by Drew Carey, Ben Affleck and Jared Leto all before they were famous.
Actor/Actress: Perennial candidate for Sexiest Man Alive, Brad Pitt was born in Shawnee. His most notable roles include Fight Club, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for). Pitt has also garnered much attention for his personal life, due to relationships with Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.
Song: Oklahoma not only has a number of songs about the state, it has its own musical, Oklahoma! The title song from that Rodgers and Hammerstein production (this was their first collaboration) was made the State Song in 1953. It is played regularly at the University of Oklahoma, for Oklahoma Sooners games, as well as other events at the school.
Band/Musician: Country music is big in Oklahoma and no one personifies the genre better than Garth Brooks. Brooks, born in Tulsa, is one of the best-selling artists of all-time, while his concert tours have also broken world records. Brooks has won two Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Not bad for a guy with Friends in Low Places.
People: Will Rogers did it all. He was an actor, cowboy, newspaper columnist and politician. He was also called ‘Oklahoma’s Favourite Son’. In 1935, Rogers died in a plane crash. The Will Rogers Memorial can be found in Claremore and around the state, the Will Rogers World Airport, Will Rogers Turnpike and 13 schools are all named in his honour.
Animal: Boomer and Sooner are white ponies, who serve as the mascots for the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team. When the squad scores a touchdown, the ponies pull a Sooner Schooner wagon across the field in celebration. The current pony pair is the fifth set used by the team, since being introduced in 1964.
Invention: The shopping cart (originally called folding basket carriers) was invented by Humpty Dumpty grocery chain owner, Sylvan Goldman, to allow his customers to buy more items per visit. Next, the electric guitar was created and first used by musician Bob Dunn. Finally, voice messaging was developed by Gordon Matthews, earning him the nickname the ‘Father of Voicemail’.
Crime: The Oklahoma City Bombing, perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, on April 19, 1995, caused much devastation, including 168 dead – many of them children – and 680 injured. McVeigh, who committed the act of terrorism as revenge against the federal government, was executed in 2001. Today, the site is home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
Law: In Oklahoma, dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property. Finally, someone is cracking down on these dangerous gangs.
Sports Team: The University of Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oklahoma State University Cowboys/Cowgirls rivalry – particularly seen in football, but also basketball and even wrestling – is known as the Bedlam Series. The state finally got a professional team when the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics relocated in 2008, becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Athlete: Baseball legend, Mickey Mantle, was born in Spavinaw. He played his entire career for the New York Yankees, recording 536 home runs as a switch-hitter. Mantle excelled in the playoffs, appearing in 12 World Series, winning seven titles. He holds World Series records for home runs, RBIs and runs. Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
Famous Home: The Marland Mansion, dubbed the Palace on the Prairie, can be found in Ponca City. It was originally the home of oil tycoon E.W. Marland and consists of 55 rooms, including 10 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and three kitchens. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and today, features a public museum.
Urban Legend: In Beaver Dunes State Park, there’s said to be a Shaman’s Portal, which has caused a number of disappearances, including Spanish conquistadors. Thus, it has been called Oklahoma’s Bermuda Triangle. The cause of the bizarre activity is thought to have come from a UFO crash or the site also being Native American burial grounds.
Museum: The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, in Oklahoma City, contains more than 28,000 pieces of art and historic items, celebrating the cowboy lifestyle. One exhibit features more than 100 firearms from the old west period. The facility also includes the replica town, Prosperity Junction, which visitors can move throughout and experience.
Firsts: I’m not sure this is one to be proud of, but Oklahoma was home to the first parking meter. Installed in July 1935, the Park-O-Meter No. 1 cost a whopping 5-cents per hour and was met with great outrage by people who considered them un-American. Still, the meters spread like wildfire across the country, as businesses enjoyed the quick vehicle turnover they created.
Company: Sonic Drive-In was founded in Shawnee and is now headquartered in Oklahoma City. The fast food chain is known for its extensive menu, including various burgers and dogs, along with sides like fries and onion rings, and slushes and milkshakes for drinks. The chain was named Sonic, thanks to its original slogan, “service with the speed of sound”.
Events: The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 brought 50,000 people to the territory, looking for their slice of the land pie. People trying to cheat the noon start time, earned the nickname Sooners, which became the State Nickname. Of course, over-farming did lead to the Oklahoma dust bowl of the 1930’s, but that was after many years of successful production.
Miscellaneous: Oklahoma has the most tornados in America, including a record of five in one day. As a result, detection of the destructive natural disasters is vital, with the first tornado forecast/warning taking place in the state in March 1948. All that activity made Oklahoma the perfect setting for the 1996 film Twister.
- 2 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Triple Sec
- Splash of Sweet and Sour Mix
- Dash of Grenadine
- Garnish with Strawberry Slices
This cocktail is certainly on the boozy side and kind of resembles a margarita, with vodka subbed in for tequila. The grenadine turns the drink a colour similar to that of the Oklahoma Sooners jersey colour. The drink can be enjoyed while prepping for a Sooners football game, or to simply show pride in the state.