Hawaii Battles Over Official State Bacteria, Because That’s a Thing in America Now
Regional pride has jumped the shark, although isn't that Hawaii's Official State Sport?
State birds, state flowers, state dinosaurs—apparently in America we’re obsessed with using fairly arbitrary things to represent our region. But is the “official state insert-noun-here” trend getting just a little bit silly? Well, there are Official State Bacteria now, so you decide.
Last year, Oregon was the first state to settle on an official germ, appointing brewer’s yeast as their microscopic mascot. In 2010, there was also a bid in Wisconsin to recognize Lactococcus lactis, necessary in the production of cheese. LA, in a moment of surprising self-awareness, is rumored to be honoring Clostridium botulinum, or botox, as their official “city microbe,” although that “acting bug” people keep talking about should probably also be a contender.
There’s trouble in paradise for Hawaii, where choosing an official microbe has grown contentious. In 2013, Representative James Kunane Tokioka suggested Flavobacterium akiainvivens, which was discovered by a high school student in Oahu. Its competition is vibrio fischeri, the bacteria that creates bioluminescence in squids—a dope microorganism, to be sure, but not one unique to Hawaii’s waters.
Hawaii has put the bacteria bill back on the shelf for one more year after failing to agree on a winning microbe. In the meantime, it probably won’t be long before other states begin to inexplicably follow suit and award microscopic organisms with the responsibility of regional pride. Good luck little guys! Hope you’re ready to meet unreasonable expectations. If not, just hit us with an Andromeda Strain or something and we’ll cool it, I promise.