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Official state dance, beer, fossil: 17 failed attempts at Minnesota symbols

That could have been Minnesota's official state fossil.

That could have been Minnesota's official state fossil. Wikipedia Commons

Minnesota's official state bird? Loon. Apple? Honeycrisp. Soil? Lester soil, that gloriously crumbly dirt that (figuratively) cakes the heart of every Minnesotan. 

All residents should know those official state symbols, since they've been enshrined in law (along with several others). Lesser known, however, are the wannabe state symbols that weren't able to plow through the legislative process. 

Thankfully, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has documented numerous attempts at entering Minnesota canon -- some logical, some corny, some involving giant beaver skeletons. The list is as comprehensive as possible, a state librarian assures us, though an obscure bill may have evaded their research team. 

Here are 18 categories where legislation has been introduced to create would-be Minnesota state symbols.

Amphibian: Northern leopard frog

Bills honoring this frog croaked during the 1998 and '99 legislative sessions. This particular amphibian can be found in every county, according to the DNR, as well as in many middle and high school biology labs.

Amusement Ride: Tilt-A-Whirl 

Did you know the Tilt-A-Whirl was invented in Faribault in 1926? Huh! That fun fact was not enough to propel a 2007 bill aimed at giving a tip o' the cap to this carnival classic. 

Animal/Mammal: White-tailed deer; eastern timberwolf; black bear

Lawmakers really, really wanted the white-tailed deer and eastern timberwolf to get their respective props. From 1971 to 1989, eight bills were drafted on the deer's behalf; the wolf received six bills from 1969 to 2000. The humble black bear received two nods -- in 2011 and '12. Interested in learning more about these unofficial state beasts? Ely is home to the North American Bear Center as well as the International Wolf Center. You're on your own for learning about deer. 

Beer: Schell’s Deer Brand; Cold Spring Brewing Co. 

In 1987, dueling bills sought to canonize a state beer. One pitched, rather specifically, Schell’s Deer Brand; the other lobbied for Cold Spring Brewing Co. Both fell flat. Schell's opened in 1860 and Cold Spring opened in 1874, so both must've been pre-craft boom nods to Minnesota's brewing history. 

Book: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie (1935); Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)

Two separate bills -- one in 1990, one in 1992 -- advocating for a Wisconsinite author. Bullet dodged!

Candy: Licorice

A head-scratching 1997 bill thumbed its nose at a universal truth: Licorice is gross. Also, St. Paul's iconic Pearson's Candy Co. is making Salted Nut Rolls and Nut Goodies just five miles from the Capitol -- immortalize those candies! 

Color: Purple

When we lost our sweet Prince in 2016, eventual U.S. Senate loser Karin Housley authored a bill that would forever tie the late superstar's favorite color to Minnesota. It was a rare good idea from Housley, she of so, so, so many bad ones. 

Flag: Honor and Remember Flag

Aimed at saluting "America's military fallen heroes," multiple 2013 bills advocated for the Honor and Remember Flag. This flag, apparently, would've flown alongside Minnesota's "shameful" official state flag.

Folk Dance: The square dance

Two bills (1992, 1994) attempted to increase the blindingly white glare of this country's official state dances

Fossil: Giant beaver

How giant, you ask? The Pleistocene Epoch rodent measured up to 7-feet long and 275 pounds! Pretty cool. Now-extinct legislation introduced in 1988 seemed to agree. 

Horse: Dan Patch 

Dan Patch, the world-famous harness-racing horse, was effectively our state's Lil' Sebastian, but with a war chest of actual accolades. Just last year, a bill seeking to honor the early 20th century equine celebrity failed to cross the legislative finish line. 

Mineral: Iron ore

Seems like a no-brainer, considering our famous range full of the stuff, but a 1990 bill couldn't solidify into law. 

Nickname/Slogan: ...see below

A not-so-catchy official slogan -- “Your vacation and convention dollar goes further in Minnesota: No Sales Tax!” -- was proposed in 1959. We'll have to live with our official motto, "L'etoile du Nord" (translation: "Star of the North"), plus three popular nicknames: The Gopher State, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and the North Star State.

Pipe Band: Minnesota State Fire Service Memorial Pipe Band

Does Minnesota need an official state pipe band? A doomed 2012 bill certainly thought so. 

Poem: "Minnesota Blue"

Sen. Bruce Anderson pushed twice for "Minnesota Blue" to claim this crown; the simultaneously puritanical/psychedelic 1985 poem by Hawaiian musician Keith Haugen was mocked by City Pages at the time. 

Reptile: Blanding's turtle

Don't call this reptilian scamp bland -- its status is threatened in Minnesota! Two bills (1998, 1999) wanted to protect its status as Minnesota's official state reptile, to no avail. 

Soup: Wild rice soup

Just as much as the loon and the Honeycrisp, this one screams Minnesota. A 1998 bill suggested as much, though it ultimately sank. No soup for us.