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Maryland mulls establishing a state dessert
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters Life!) - State adoption of birds or flowers as official emblems is quite common but when it comes to honeybees, walking, and dessert, Maryland appears to be leading the way.
State lawmakers are considering plans to establish a state dessert, to name the last week of June as Pollinator Week to draw attention to the decline of the honeybee, and to make soybeans the official state crop.
They are also debating whether to name May as Dandy-Walker Syndrome and Hydrocephalus Awareness Month to boost public knowledge of those neurological conditions, and whether to designate walking as the state exercise in an attempt to improve public health.
Among eight bills that came before the state House Health and Government Operations Committee in a recent public hearing was a plan to name Smith Island Cake, from an island in the Chesapeake Bay, as the state dessert because the cake is a "unique state tradition."
House Bill 315 solemnly states: "Whereas, Smith Island Cake features eight to ten thin layers of cake separated by rich frosting, and is most commonly served as a yellow cake with chocolate icing, but also is made in other flavors like coconut, fig and strawberry."
Delegate Page Elmore, a Republican member of the Maryland House, said he had become the lead sponsor of the bill to boost the economy of Smith Island and nearby towns on the mainland where the cake is made, and which is part of his district.
Even before lawmakers have voted on his bill, sales of the cake have tripled to around 30 a day in response to the publicity. Around 20 people are now employed making it, and some cakes have been sent as far away as Iraq, Elmore said.
"This cake is original to the state of Maryland," Elmore said. "The ladies on Smith Island have been asking me to do this for six years, so I obliged them this time."
Another bill argues that 31 percent of Marylanders take no exercise, that almost a quarter of the state's adults are rated as obese, and that designating walking as the state exercise would help promote a healthy lifestyle.
And for any citizens who might be unaware of their state's history, there is House Bill 957, which would establish June 20 as Maryland Charter Day, to commemorate the day in 1632 when King Charles I of England granted a charter for the "Maryland Colony."
Asked whether lawmakers had more important things to do than establishing a state dessert, Elmore said it had only taken about 30 minutes to draft the dessert bill. But he acknowledged that getting 92 co-sponsors had taken more time as lawmakers had to be enticed by local tourism and historical groups that supported the measure.
"They came up here with about 450 slices of cake to give to each member of the legislature," he said.
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