We Georgians live in a territory of the United States of America affectionately called the Peach State. Did you ever wonder why we revere the peach so much?
Well, according to history buffs, during the 16th century Franciscan monks introduced peaches to St Simons and Cumberland Island. These monks are not to be confused with the monks living in the Monastery on Hwy 212 in Conyers. At any rate, by the 18th-century peaches became one of the staple crops of the Cherokee Native Americans in North Georgia. Years later, in 1851, a Columbus planter, Raphael Moses, not to be confused with the Moses of Ten Commandments fame, was given credit for being the first to market peaches outside the South.
Georgia’s traditionally favorite white-top crop faded in production towards the end of the Civil War as Georgia farmers began looking for alternatives to King Cotton. Thus, peach production skyrocketed. The new crop was recognized for having a superior flavor, appearance, texture, and rich in nutritious qualities. By the year 1928, Georgia farmers were producing more than 8 million bushels annually, a surge in production which added to the popularity of the nickname, “The Peach State.”
With the speed of a snail crossing an acre of peanut butter, the legislators under the Gold Dome finally recognized the peach as Georgia’s official state fruit on April 7, 1995. Better late than never, I suppose.
Now, Georgia grows a lot of peanuts, too. ‘Goober’, being an old word for peanut, and being the state’s official crop, not fruit, has given rise to a secondary nickname, “The Goober State.” So far, no athletic organization has taken the nickname for their team, such as the University of Georgia Goobers. Thank the Good Lord.
Georgia is also known as “The Empire State of the South,” a nickname not in much favor among many diehard Rebels. The disfavor is easily understood since New York and Georgia don’t even speak the same language.
Thus ends my history lesson on Georgia’s nickname, “The Peach State.” Moving forward, my red van in the driveway is now yellow. My lawn chairs, deck table, and concrete patio are all yellow. If my dogs stay in the backyard too long, they too turn yellow.
I suggest we approach our state representatives to consider a new official nickname for Georgia, “The Pollen State.” Considering the time it took for the ‘peach’ to become an official nickname, plus if we citizens apply constant pressure on our legislators, “The Pollen State” may become a reality by the year 2095.
What say you?
Pete Mecca is an author, journalist, lecturer, TV & Patriotic Program Consultant. A graduate of Memphis State University with a BA degree in political science and public administration, minor studies in Native American History and American Military Service, he served with Air Force Intelligence, including 2 1/2 years in Vietnam. In 2018, he coordinated a three-month event honoring Vietnam Veterans at George Walton Academy. Click or tap on this link for a full bio on Pete Mecca and for more of his writings.