Words & Stuff

L: Too Much on My Plate

(21 September 1997)

Pennsylvania's license plates used to say "You have a Friend in" at the top, and "Pennsylvania" at the bottom, with the license number in between. Some enterprising group or company capitalized on this design by printing up fake Pennsylvania vanity license plates on which the license-number area read "JESUS," so that if you ignored the "Pennsylvania" part the plates said "You have a Friend in JESUS."

This week's challenge is to come up with proposed vanity plates which similarly change the meaning of slogans on other states' plates. To aid in that endeavor, you can first take this quiz, to guess which state goes with each plate slogan. The following list contains 43 plate slogans, representing 38 states plus the District of Columbia; as far as I know, that's all the slogans used on general-issue passenger plates in the US after 1990 (except for a few that say how long a state has been around, or just capitalize certain letters in the state name). Some states don't use plate slogans; others put the county name on the plate as well as the state name; others have had multiple slogans at various times. (Recently, several states have begun offering optional plates with environmental messages like "Environment" or "Treasure the Chesapeake" or "Manatee"; much as I approve of the idea of such slogans, I've left them out of this quiz, along with all the other special-issue plates.) Note that although some states put their official state nicknames on their plates, some plate slogans are not the same as the corresponding state nicknames; only the plate slogans are listed here. Click a slogan to find out what state's plates it can (or could recently) be seen on. Those unfamiliar with the names of the American states can refresh their memories by looking at the list.

10,000 Lakes
Aloha State
Amber Waves of Grain
America's Dairyland
Big Sky
Bluegrass State
Celebrate & Discover
Constitution State
Famous Potatoes
First in Flight
The First State
Garden State
Grand Canyon State
Great Faces, Great Places
Great Lakes (also "Great Lake Splendor")
Green Mountain State
Heart of Dixie
the heart of it all
Hoosier Hospitality
Keystone State
Land of Enchantment
Land of Lincoln
The Last Frontier
Live Free or Die
The Lone Star State
Native America
The Natural State
Ocean State
OK! (also "is OK!")
...on my mind
Preserve the Spirit / Peace Garden State (both phrases appear on the plates)
Putting Families First (after 10/1/97)
Show-Me State
The Silver State
Ski [state name]! Greatest Snow on Earth
The Spirit of America
Sportsman's Paradise
Sunshine State
Volunteer State
Wild, Wonderful

Here's the equivalent quiz for Canadian provinces. Those unfamiliar with the names of the Canadian provinces can refresh their memories by looking at the list. One of the provinces doesn't use slogans on its plates.

Canada's Ocean Playground
Explore Canada's Arctic
Home of "Anne of Green Gables"
Je me souviens
The Klondike
Wild Rose Country
A World of Difference
Yours to Discover

Different states have different arrangements of items: some have state, then plate number, then slogan; some have slogan, plate number, state; and a few have other arrangements. For simplicity, for the purposes of this game, you can arrange the slogan and plate contents in any order you prefer. Also, though different states have different rules about what can and can't go on a vanity plate, for simplicity assume that you can have up to eight characters (letter, numbers, and/or spaces).

Here are a couple to get you started:

Bhadrika suggests:

Land of Lincoln

While driving through the relevant state, I thought of:

First in Flight

Reader comments and addenda page

Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>