Missouri is known as the Show Me state, and the historical lowdown on this nickname points to its Midwestern roots. The most credited coinage is that of U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who said, during his 1899 speech in Philadelphia, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”
Missouri meets the challenge with gusto. For instance, Augusta is the first federally recognized wine-growing region in the United States — predating California’s famed Napa Valley. Entrepreneur and philanthropist David Hoffmann aims to turn Augusta into a world-class producer and exporter of unique vintages.
This is just one of the unusual things you probably didn’t know about the Show Me state. Here are nine more:
1- Quake country
Something else California is known for (more infamously than wine) is earthquakes, but Missouri matches this history, too: during four months, from mid-December 1811 to late April 1812, the Show Me state recorded more than 2000 tremors in the Mississippi River Valley. Three of the strongest temblors (7.5-8.8 on the Richter Scale) created a mini-tsunami in the Mississippi, causing the river to run in reverse for several hours. Just. Plain. Weird.
2- The king of beers
In addition to being certified as the nation’s first viticulture region, Missouri is home to the country’s largest beer producer, Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser. If you’re visiting Missouri, bring a designated driver.
3- Tom Sawyer town
Samuel Clemons, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, grew up in Hannibal. Twain based the fictional town described in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” on his hometown.
4- Waffling on ice cream
If you love your guilty pleasure in waffle cones, thank Missouri. Waffle cones debuted at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, but not by design. When an ice cream vendor ran out of cups to hold the ice cream, he asked a nearby waffle vendor to roll waffles to hold the scoops, and a delicious new method of delivering a popular treat began. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
5- Water, water, everywhere
Perhaps because Missouri is a landlocked state, Kansas City is home to more than 200 fountains — only Rome boasts more. For this reason, Kansas City is nicknamed “the City of Fountains.” However, Big Springs is one of the world’s largest springs, with an average flow of 470 cubic feet per second. That’s a LOT of water.
6- Come on over for barbecue!
Perhaps one reason Kansas City has so much water is that residents and visitors are bound to be thirsty after they indulge in all the barbecue the city offers more than 100 BBQ restaurants.
Did we mention the American Royal BBQ event that takes place each fall from September through November? BBQ competitions, vendor fairs, live music, and fun activities for the kids. And given the state’s history with both beer and wine, both are sure to be flowing.
7- All that jazz
Kansas City holds another unique distinction: the American Jazz Museum, the first museum dedicated solely to jazz music, also resides there.
8- The sporting life
Given that one of the best tight ends in football history has been relentlessly in the news lately due as much to his rumored relationship with a certain pop superstar as his prowess on the field, it seems only fitting to include Missouri’s strong focus on sports. The state is home to the Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), the University of Missouri Tigers (NCAA), and the Kansas City Royals, who won the World Series in 1985 and again in 2015.
9- Greatest thing since
Do you like sliced bread? It started in Missouri in 1928 when the Chillicothe Baking Company became the first to sell pre-sliced bread to the public. There was no turning back.