Great American claims to fame
by John Gettings
According to the Hosiery Association, the industry's leading trade association, one out of every eight Americans who put on a pair of socks this morning will be wearing a pair made in Fort Payne/DeKalb County.
If you're going to plan a road trip in America, why not be original?
Anybody can visit the "gambling capital of the world" (Las Vegas), the "movie capital of the world" (Hollywood), and the "automotive capital of the world" (Detroit), but don't you want to dig a little deeper? Don't you want to get a little bit more out of your vacation?
Well, you've come to the right place.
Here is a closer look at ten of America's most interesting (self-proclaimed) "capitals of the world."
Red Flannel Capital of the World
Cedar Springs, Michigan
Legend has it that a harsh winter in 1936 inspired a New York columnist to lament America's apparent shortage of red flannels. But editors from a local paper, who passed merchants in Michigan's lumberjack country selling the popular full-length woolen undergarments every day, knew otherwise. They responded with an editorial, which was picked up by a national news service. Orders flooded in, and three years later Cedar Springs celebrated the first Red Flannel Day. The tradition continues today with a festival that begins the last weekend in September.
Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World
What Wimbledon and Broadway are to aspiring tennis players and actors, this tiny panhandle town is to those who dream of hurling hardened cow dung great distances. Established as a tribute to the unique natural fuel source of the town's early settlers, Beaver has hosted the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship every April since 1969.
Troll Capital of the World
Mount Horeb, Wisconsin
Mount Horeb is ground zero for this country's troll and mustard communities. One can start the day with a "Troll Stroll" down The Trollway, site of the country's largest collection of life-sized troll sculptures, which are carved into trees along the town's main drag. Then finish the day with a visit to the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, featuring more than 3,500 mustards.
Sock Capital of the World
Fort Payne, Alabama
According to The Hosiery Association, the industry's leading trade association, one out of every eight Americans who put on a pair of socks this morning will be wearing a pair made in Fort Payne/DeKalb County. The area's first sock mill, the W.B. Davis Hosiery Mill (1907), is no longer producing socks but still houses an antique mall with artifacts left over from the mill's past?and, understandably, lots of lint.
Cereal Capital of the World
Battle Creek, Michigan
The birthplace of our favorite breakfast food still snaps, crackles, and pops with excitement. Today you can visit Kellogg's Cereal City USA, an interactive museum in Battle Creek that pays tribute to cereal and shows its impact on our culture. Visitors can observe a re-creation of a cereal production line, meet their favorite Kellogg's cereal-box celebrities, and buy a box of cereal with their face on it.
Loon Capital of the World
In addition to being a favorite fishing spot for notorious gangster Al Capone, this northern Wisconsin town, which boasts of more than 200 lakes within a 20-mile radius, features the world's largest loon. A 16-foot-tall, 2,000-pound fiberglass waterfowl has stood on the lawn of the chamber of commerce since 1981.
Mushroom Capital of the World
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
No U.S. state produces more mushrooms than Pennsylvania. So it makes sense that here, in the heart of mushroom country, one would find the Phillips Mushroom Museum. Established in 1972, the museum chronicles three generations of the mushroom-farming Phillips family beginning with Pennsylvania mushroom pioneer William W. Phillips, a man who really knew his shiitake.
Decoy Capital of the World
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Situated on the banks of the Susquehanna River, this Maryland community has been home to the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum since 1986. It features the country's largest collection of wooden duck decoys, most carved between 1930 and 1990.
Bratwurst Capital of the World
Sheboygan's celebration of America's most mysterious pork sausage is called Bratwurst Days. The two-day festival of music and bratwurst is held annually on the first weekend in August. Connoisseurs come from all over to experience some of the industry's newest brats, such as taco bratwurst, Cajun bratwurst, and jalapeno and cheddar bratwurst. Incidentally, Sheboygan's Memorial Hospital is the "angioplasty capital of the world." Just kidding.