In between parties and family gatherings, we decided to take some time to look back at the events that transpired in 2013. We found one in particular that made us smile with pride. In April, the Maryland Senate announced that the soft shell crab sandwich was to become Maryland’s official state sandwich. While we were glad that one of our favorite sandwiches was officially recognized, we did wonder why it had taken so long for this seemingly obvious choice to take place. However after some research, we got a whole new understanding for the legislative decision making process.

It seems that the soft shell crab sandwich was picked for many reasons, most notably because it represents distinct aspects of Maryland. For example, the Maryland crab cake was not chosen because it was argued that any kind of crab meat can be used to make this dish, while the soft shell sandwich is almost always composed of Maryland blue crab. Because the blue crab’s habitat is in the Chesapeake Bay, this sandwich also represents our unique relationship with this body of water. Because of the Shore’s tie to the Bay and the yummy seafood harvested here, Sen. Richard F. Colburn specifically wanted this piece of legislation passed as a way to promote travel on the Eastern Shore.

However not everyone in the Maryland Senate agreed with this motion passing. The single vote against the legislation (43-1) was cast by State Sen. Dolores G. Kelley. Senator Kelley argued that not every Maryland citizen could enjoy the state sandwich due to religious dietary restrictions. Kelley said “considering it wouldn’t be kosher and … (there is) a sizable Jewish population… I think it is kind of insensitive.”

Although there has been some controversy over every official mascot chosen for the state, most choices have been made in an effort to bolster the economy of certain locations, such as the Smith Island Cake, passed as the state dessert in 2008. This delicious treat stacked with 8-10 layers of cake and sugary filling has had an enormous economic impact on the area of its namesake. The state fish, the striped bass or rockfish, has also brought increased income to local fishing and seafood industries.

Some other not-for-profit official mascots of Maryland include the official state dinosaur, the long-necked Astrodon Johnstoni which was unearthed in Prince George’s County in 1998. The state bird, the Baltimore oriole, state insect, Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, and state cat, the Calico cat, were all chosen to represent Maryland due to their black and orange colorings that are similar to the Calvert shield.

Other state animals include the state dog, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever which is an American breed that was developed in and around the Bay region. The diamondback terrapin was chosen as the state reptile in 1994 although it had been the University of Maryland College Park’s mascot since 1933. This small turtle grows to 7.5 inches, makes its home in the Chesapeake Bay, and hibernates in the mud during the winter.

More wildlife is represented by our state through the state flower, the black eyed Susan and the official tree, the wye or white oak. This tree gained state recognition due to a large old tree that once lived in Talbot County, in what is now Wye Oak State Park. This tree was believed to be four hundred and sixty years old, until 2002 when the tree fell in a storm. Today the trunk of the tree has been preserved in iron.

Taking a visit to see one of our official state mascots located close by in Talbot County could be a good excuse for another day trip that ShoreBread just might have to go on…