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5 fun facts about Ohio to celebrate National Ohio Day (Kentucky and Indiana, we have a few for you, too)


While many people are focused on elections this time of year, the folks at National Day Calendar report Nov. 2 is also National Ohio Day - a day to celebrate all things Buckeye State.

Andy Verhoff is Ohio History Fund and outreach coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office for Ohio History Connection. For the purposes of this story, we're just going to call him the Ohio Fun Fact Guy. He put together his top 5 list of Ohio Fun Facts.

"I have to say, it was really hard to narrow down five," he exclaims. "There's a lot of stuff to know about this state - a lot of fun stuff about this state, a lot of things worth knowing. I'm not just talking about politicians and military events and things like that, which of course is important, there's just a lot of neat cultural stuff to know about this state."

Without further ado, here they are...

Five fun facts about Ohio

  1. The name Ohio comes from the Iroquois term "Ohi:yo," which means "the great river," in reference to the Ohio River.
  2. The popular childhood drawing toyEtch A Sketch launched in 1960 by the Ohio Art Company in Bryan, Ohio. The company discovered Frenchman André Cassagnes' invention at a toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany.
  3. The first supermarket scanner used commercially was on June 26, 1974 at a Marsh grocery store in Troy, Ohio. The first item scanned was a pack of Wrigley's chewing gum. The Spectra Physics model "A" price scanner, created jointly by Spectra Physics and NCR, is part of the collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  4. Wilson footballs used in the NFL are manufactured in Ada, Ohio. The company says more than 700,000 footballs are handmade every year in Ada, and have been since 1955. Related: The NFL itself has its roots in Ohio. Theleague was created in 1922 in Columbus when the American Professional Football Association changed its name to the National Football League.
  5. Emma "Grandma" Gatewood of Gallia County became the first woman to solo hike the 2,000-plus mile Appalachian Trail in 1955 at age 67. Then she did it two more times in 1957 and 1964 (in sections). She's considered the most famous Appalachian Trail thru-hiker.

Bonus fun facts

Ohio's flag is famously the only state flag that isn't a rectangle. The burgee (bûr'je) - that's what the swallow-tail design is called - was designed by John Eisenmann and adopted by the Ohio legislature in 1902.

The state beverage is tomato juice, a decision made by the Ohio General Assembly in 1965. Alexander Livingston of Reynoldsburg was the first to grow tomatoes commercially in 1870.

The state bird is the cardinal, a decision made official in 1933 by the Ohio General Assembly. The cardinal is also the state bird of...

Kentucky and Indiana

Turns out, 1933 was a big year for cardinals. Indiana also adopted the red warbler as its state bird that year. The commonwealth led the way, however, with Kentucky naming the cardinal as its state bird years earlier in 1926.

Apologies to Kentuckians, National Kentucky Day was Oct. 19. Here's a bonus fun fact to make up for missing your special day. When it comes to state symbols, the Bluegrass State is no slacker. It has a state horse - the thoroughbred; a state soil - the Crider Soil Series; and even a state tug-of-war championship.

That's right, there may be multiple tug-of-war championships in Kentucky but the Fordsville Tug-of-War Championship in Ohio County has been the official state one since 1990.

Heads up, Hoosiers! National Indiana Day is coming up Nov. 16.

Wondering where the term "Hoosier" comes from? History isn't clear, but it offers a few possibilities. According to the State of Indiana, the term came into general usage in the 1830s courtesy of Richmond, Indiana, poet John Finley. His poem, "The Hoosier's Nest," went what we would call 'viral' today and that was more or less that.

However, there are instances of the term being used well before Finley's poem. You can check out all the other theories here.

You can hear a recitation of "The Hoosier's Nest" in this YouTube video.

Updated: November 2, 2022 at 10:44 AM EDT
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.