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 Utah, home to Mormons and polygamists. While that all sounds… fun, I’m a little hesitant entering the Beehive State, given its no fun reputation, but I’ve made good out of dry situations before:
Motto: “Industry” – Well, if that isn’t the most flowery slogan amongst all the states…
Food: As someone who’s always looking to up my condiment game, I have to give props to Utah for being the birthplace of Fry Sauce. Sometimes called the unofficial state condiment, Fry Sauce is a combination of equal parts mayo and ketchup. It was first introduced at Utah restaurant chain Arctic Circle by chef and founder Don Carlos Edwards.
Drink: Utah has a number of odd laws regarding alcohol service, including putting up Zion Curtains (walls and even some roofs, so patrons aren’t forced to watch a drink being made), fines to establishments for serving drinks to customers before they’ve ordered dinner, low alcohol beers and limited amounts of spirits in cocktails. It’s enough to make the Sip Advisor cry.
Site to See: The options are endless in Utah, with five national parks, eight national monuments, two national recreation areas and seven national forests, among other attractions. The many famous rock formations (Rainbow Bridge, Delicate Arch, etc.) in the state need to be seen to be believed. There’s also Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet.
Street: Highway 12 is among the most scenic routes in the country, designated an All-American Road/National Scenic Byway in 2002. The 122-mile stretch goes through or near the Dixie National Forest (Red Canyon), Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Escalante River) and Capitol Reef National Park.
TV Show: Big Love, starring Bill Paxton, is about the patriarch of a polygamist Mormon family and his many wives and children. The HBO series ran for five seasons and 53 episodes, receiving Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. If you want the reality TV version, there’s the TLC series Sister Wives, although I have to think Big Love might be the more realistic of the two.
Movie: 127 Hours, starring James Franco, tells the real-life story of hiker and climber Aron Ralston, who found himself alone and trapped between a rock and a hard place in Canyonlands National Park. He documents his struggle with a video camera, finally freeing himself by amputating his arm. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars.
Book/Author: Edward Abbey’s most notable works are set in Utah, the autobiographical Desert Solitaire, which documented his experiences as a park ranger in Arches National Park, and the fictional The Monkey Wrench Gang, about ecoterrorism in the southwest. Abbey’s celebration of life is something I’d hope for, as he requested: “a flood of beer and booze! Lots of singing, dancing, talking, hollering, laughing, and lovemaking.”
Fictional Character: A favourite character of the Sip Advisor, for our shared effort to lack-of-reward ratio, is Wile E. Coyote. The Looney Tunes creation is said to inhabit the deserts of Utah, constantly coming up short in his pursuit of the Road Runner, despite employing an array of Acme gadgets. Although technically a bad guy, it’s pretty easy to root for Wile E.
Fictional City: Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon, is set in Bomont. The town is said to be located somewhere in the Midwest, with many drawing comparisons to Elmore City, Oklahoma, due to that town’s ban on dancing, similar to the storyline in Footloose. However, the movie was filmed in Utah, with no attempts made to hide that fact, so that’s how I’m settling this category.
Actor/Actress: Roseanne Barr was born in Salt Lake City. The stand-up comedian rose to fame thanks to her popular TV series Roseanne (1988-1997), which followed the lives of the working class Connor family. Barr has also been embroiled in a couple controversies, most recently including a racist tweet that resulted in her being written out of the Roseanne revival.
Song: Utah by The Osmonds is a tribute to the family’s home state, highlighting the fun that can be had there. The music video features the band riding motorcycles through the desert and snowmobiles in the forest. The Beach Boys also made an ode to Utah, with their song Salt Lake City, a place they performed often and where they enjoyed early success and popularity.
Band/Musician: The Osmonds, particularly Donny and Marie, are from Ogden. As a family band, the group consisted of five brothers performing as a barbershop quintet. Donny and Marie later teamed up for duets, while each enjoying solo success. The pair had a popular variety show in the late 1970’s and reunited for a daytime talk show from 1998-2000.
People: Businessman and electrical engineer Nolan Bushnell was born in Clearfield. He co-created Pong, one of the earliest arcade games, and the Atari home video game system. Looking for a way to further capitalize on people playing video games, Bushnell conceived the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain, where a young Sip Advisor first enjoyed cheese pizza and arcade classics.
Animal: The Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City has been home to a number of famous animals, including Princess Alice the Elephant (a frequent escape of the zoo), Shasta the Liger (the first liger born in the U.S.), Gorgeous the Gorilla (once the oldest female gorilla), Dari the Elephant (oldest African elephant ever), and Daphne the Giraffe (once the oldest giraffe).
Invention: Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the TV, was born in Beaver. I’ve enjoyed countless hours of entertainment thanks to Farnsworth, who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1984, with his other patents leading to the development of radar, baby incubators and telescopes. Another notable Utah invention is the Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine.
Crime: Ted Bundy committed murders across the U.S., including Utah, where the killer was finally caught and incarcerated. Bundy would escape when transferred to Colorado and continue his murderous ways until caught again in Florida and later executed. In Utah, he slayed at a handful of women, while studying at the University of Utah Law School.
Law: In Utah, if a woman commits a crime with her husband present, he is technically responsible. I can see this law resulting in an interesting way for women to get revenge on an unfaithful/abusive husband.
Sports Team: Utah was without a professional sports team until the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. The Jazz have never won a NBA Championship, having only appeared in two consecutive NBA Finals (1997 and 1998), led by superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton, but coming up against the Chicago Bulls dynasty both times.
Athlete: NFL quarterback Steve Young was born in Salt Lake City, a great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young, founder of Salt Lake City and first governor of the Utah Territory. Young spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, where he won three Super Bowls and was selected as the league’s MVP in 1992 and 1994. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Famous Home: Butch Cassidy’s Childhood Home in Circleville may not look like much, but it’s where the legendary outlaw spent the first few years of his life before going on to a career as a notorious train and bank robber. Cassidy, born Robert LeRoy Parker, was the leader of the Wild Bunch gang and his romanticized history has made the log cabin a tourist attraction.
Urban Legend: The 1956 movie The Conqueror, starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan, was filmed in Utah. This included the city of St. George, which was downwind of the Nevada National Security Site, where nuclear testing had occurred. By 1980, 91 of the 220 cast and crew members had been diagnosed with cancer, with 46 deaths. How much their participation in this film was to blame will always remain a question.
Museum: A major event in Utah’s history was hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, despite the games being marred by bribery scandals involving the organizing committee, as well as figure skating judges. The Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park, found on the campus of the University of Utah until February 2020, provided a remembrance of the competition. The cauldron is being refurbished and relocated.
Firsts: The first department store in the U.S. was the Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI), founded by Brigham Young in Salt Lake City in 1868. The chain even used the slogan “America’s First Department Store” for a time. In December 1999, ZCMI was sold to Macy’s Inc., ending 131 years of operation, although the name continued on in some locations.
Company: Ancestry.com is headquartered in Lehi. The genealogy company is the largest in the world, with 27 billion historical records and 100 million family trees as part of their network. They have even inadvertently aided in solving serious crimes, including the Golden State Killer. Recently, The Blackstone Group announced it was acquiring the company for $4.7 billion.
Events: On May 10, 1869, at promontory Summit, the Wedding of the Rails occurred, which marked the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The last spike, known as the Golden Spike, connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad lines. Today, the Golden Spike National Historical Park commemorates this event, including replicas of the two engines from the meet.
Miscellaneous: The Sundance Film Festival, established by actor Robert Redford (who portrayed the Sundance Kid) and others, is held annually in Park City. It has grown to become the largest independent film festival in the country. Countless films, directors and actors have gained notoriety thanks to the festival, which now has spinoffs in London and Hong Kong.
- 2 oz Gin
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Dash of Honey Syrup
- Garnish with a Lemon Slice
Finding cocktails that originated in Utah was a tough task, given their antiquated views on liquor. Given it’s the Beehive State, I went with this honey-based drink. The recipe is simple enough, so let’s find out if it really is the bee’s knees.