Taking a break from?the hard work of preempting local gun laws?and screwing the incoming democratic governor, Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature?is finally focusing on something that all Ohioan’s care about:? indigenous fruit and Nascar…

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Score one for the mighty pawpaw

It was getting late in the evening on Thursday, and as the Ohio Senators milled around waiting to finish up the day’s business, State Sen. Steve Stivers had a confession to make.

“I’m bought and sold by the pawpaw industry,” the Columbus Republican said. “Yep, it’s true.”

Stivers was just joking around with a couple of reporters, but Thursday’s action at the Statehouse was anything but a joke for Ohio’s oh-so-powerful pawpaw lobby. The obscure fleshy fruit, known as “the poor man’s banana,” was named the state’s official native fruit, one of 64 people, places and things to be given official designation in an omnibus naming bill passed by the Ohio House Thursday.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 114 named the tomato as Ohio’s state fruit while the bullfrog became the official state amphibian. April 29 will now forever be known as Dale Earnhardt Day in Ohio, while Ronald Reagan managed to score June 12 as his 24 hours of immortality. The official state sandwich? Carle’s Bratwurst, the encased meat that has a little bit of Bucyrus in every bite.

License plates aplenty were created, mostly to honor different groups of military vets while Germans, homeless people, veterans, farmers, nurses, children’s author Robert McCloskey and police killed in the line of duty were all among those who got special recognition.

Perhaps the most misplaced honorific has to go to the portions of Ohio 5 and 82 in Trumbull County that were renamed the President Ronald Wilson Reagan Outerbelt in the bill. For the record, Reagan won all of 48 percent of the vote in Trumbull County in his 1980 run against President Jimmy Carter and followed that by squeaking out 45 percent of the county’s vote four years later against Walter Mondale.

By the way, the pawpaw is supposed to taste something like a mango crossed with a banana (a banago?). It also turns out that backers of the pawpaw even at one point distributed pawpaw chutney to state lawmakers and staffers. The pawpaw chutney was described by one Statehouse source – too terrified of the mighty pawpaw interests to go on the record – as “kind of gross.”

Hey, is that any way to talk about Ohio’s official indigenous fruit?

– Aaron Marshall, amarshall@plaind.com

 

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