Maryland sweet on official designations

February 26, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

Somehow, Maryland has managed to worry along through the centuries without an Official State Dessert. Until now. Sweet.

This is that time of year when the General Assembly shakes off its less pressing business and sets about the more serious work of naming Official State Something or Others.

You know the basics. State bird: Baltimore oriole. State flower: black-eyed Susan. State dance: the square dance. State crustacean: William Donald Schaefer.

But each year, other items and their constituencies descend upon the capitol to lobby for their inclusion into the annals of state inclusiveness, for the express purpose of keeping lawmakers busy, thus ensuring they don't have time to screw up something that really matters.


For example, this session a move is on to designate "walking" as the official state exercise. Keep in mind, this is the state exercise, which is different from the state sport: jousting.

At least I think it's still jousting. I remember a while back, the duckpin bowling lobby made a push to knock jousting out of the saddle, but the jousters - dressed as lords and damsels - hit Annapolis to ward off the attack. I wish I were kidding about this.

I know that if I had any spare time, I'd be feverishly lobbying lawmakers against walking. If we can spend five years debating slot machines, there is no reason we need to rush into any hasty decisions about the state exercise. For example, they have not even heard from the inclined crunch, the backstroke or the forearm curl. I hate to see the General Assembly charge into an action they might live to regret.

You know how health reports are. It might turn out that walking is bad for you.

And walking itself is kind of generic. Would they be referring to an arm-pumping power walk, a jaunt, saunter or an evening stroll? There's hardly any point doing it if it's not official. And somehow it seems a little lowbrow if you can engage in the Official State Exercise just by going to the fridge for another beer.

Frankly, I'm surprised the joggers are taking this lying down. To be an Official State Exercise, I'd think it would be necessary to at least break a sweat.

That's an important point, because you will need to do a lot of Official State Exercising to burn off the presumptive Official State Dessert, which is something called Smith Island cake.

Look, the state can toy around with official exercising all it wants, in my view, but when they start messing with desserts, I take it personal.

Near as I can tell, a Smith Island cake is unique in that it has 10 thin layers instead of two or three thick ones. Well and good. But I ask you, fellow Marylanders, is the existence of multiple layers alone the foundation upon which we citizens wish to establish a basis for confectionery excellence?

How do we allow this to happen? Did we lose a war? When Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were creating their recipe for democracy, did they whisk two cups of liberty and three tablespoons of justice into the batter of freedom just so one day we might blindly rally behind the cake with the most layers?


So, now that we have that settled, anybody up for a debate about the Official State Crop? Do I hear a soybeans? Yes, I have a soybeans on the table; do I hear an alfalfa?

Of course it's hard to rag on soybeans as a state crop, since the idea is being promoted by a group of school kids, and no decent, self-respecting columnist would take issue with that. However, being neither decent, nor self-respecting, these kids have no idea who they're dealing with. Look, yukapucks, you want to experiment around with the lawmaking process, why don't you do something productive - like seeing if delegates will float.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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