In 1965, Ohio became the first state to adopt an official beverage: tomato juice. Florida followed suit two years later, deeming orange juice as its state drink, and in 1970, cranberry juice was declared as the official drink of Massachusetts.
For a while, it seemed as though each state would pay tribute to locally grown products and tradition when selecting its official beverages. Instead, of the 28 U.S. states and two territories that have joined the ranks since 1965, 22 of them have chosen milk as their official beverage.
It’s important to note that 13 of these states — including New York and Louisiana— introduced milk as their official beverage during the 1980s. The dairy industry was recovering from volatile overproduction after Jimmy Carter handed out $2 billion to farmers around the country. As a result, dairy lobbyists worked closely with lawmakers to market milk as the most vital American beverage. A decade later, the famous “Got Milk?” campaign was launched, solidifying the beverage into American culture.
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So while Ohio and Florida sought out beverages that held significance within their states, others found themselves adhering to a national campaign that only grew stronger. In 1984, South Carolina declared the dairy product as its official drink in Act 360, writing, “The use of milk and milk products is the best way to provide a healthy but varied diet.”
But in 1995, South Carolina residents wondered why milk was their state drink, considering only 1,996 gallons of milk is produced there each year (compared to California which leads at 41,282 gallons). As a result, state legislators enacted Act 31 declaring locally grown tea as the state’s official “Hospitality Drink.”
Other states followed in these footsteps in the coming decades. In 2013, Kentucky added an original soft drink (Ale-8-One) to its state symbol, and Arizona did the same with lemonade. Alabama and Virginia even adopted local rye whiskey spirits as their state drinks. Naturally, Puerto Rico added the Piña Colada as its official drink in 1978, since the beloved cocktail was invented there.
Of course, milk can’t satisfy those boozy beverage cravings we often get, which is why each state also has a designated (unofficial) cocktail as a regional tribute. From California red wine to New York’s classic Long Island Iced Tea, find out what your state’s most iconic drink is.