Wisconsin Facts and Figures

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On Wisconsin is the state song, and the state motto is ‘˜forward’. Both reflect a state and people that go on, not to be stopped by snow, ice, or some of the lowest recorded temperatures in the continental United States. As fans of American football, they are ‘˜cheese heads’ with foam cheese wedges proclaiming their obsession. But there is more to this waterlogged, rugged, beer brewing state than one might know.  

Fact 1: Wisconsin and Michigan are in a social media debate to determine which state looks the most like a mitten. People from both states, when asked where they live, hold up the back of their left hand and point to the spot, not needing to carry a map around with them.

Fact 2: It was the invention of refrigeration that allowed the excess butter made in Wisconsin to become a sellable product. As late as the 1870’s, Chicago would purchase butter from Wisconsin by the hundredweight as a base of axle grease, until the refrigerated freight car, invented in the 1870’s, made it safe for butter to be transported long distances and still eaten.

Fact 3: Before the invention of internal cameras, scientists learned about the human digestion system from a doctor and his patient at Fort Howard, Green Bay. St. Martin was shot in the side, June 6, 1822. It was expected to be fatal, but St. Martin lived, with a large hole in his side that never quite closed. Through this, Dr. Beaumont was able to experiment and observe what happened to food after it was eaten.  

Fact 4: Wisconsin was the first State in America to open a kindergarten, in 1856. The local youths of Watertown were German-speaking, which might be why kindergarten is from the German word for a primary school.

Fact 5: Even though it is the Dairy Capital, Wisconsin produces the most Ginseng and morel mushrooms in the U.S.

Fact 6: Wisconsin Dells is a major tourist attraction that includes the world’s largest water park, Noah’s Ark, Tommy Bartlett’s Robot World and the Wisconsin Ducks.

Fact 7: It is believed that Wisconsin is a Ojibwa word for ‘˜gathering of the waters’ though no one knows for sure if this is the origin of the state’s name.  Another idea is that the name comes from the Chippewa word Ouisconsin, meaning ‘˜river that meanders through something red’.

Fact 8: The Mustard Museum of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, is home to more than 5,300 varieties of mustard. The museum makes sure to celebrate National Mustard Day on August 4.   

Fact 9: Lake Winnebago is the largest of the more than 14,000 lakes in Wisconsin. When combined with the 7,446 rivers and streams, Wisconsin has enough waterways to circle the planet.

Fact 10: Wisconsin is the Dairy Capital of the U.S. and tends to take its responsibilities serious. It is illegal to serve state prisoners butter substitutes, margarine may not be substituted for butter unless it is requested by the customer of a restaurant, and yellow butter substitutes are banned to prevent it being smuggled in from Illinois. All cheese makers must be licensed, and apple pie must be served with cheese in a restaurant.

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