No, it's not just heated up coleslaw.
The annual Hot Slaw Festival in Cleveland, Tennessee, kicks off on Saturday, April 6, just 65 short days from now. By the time everyone is up to their eyebrows in this beloved combination of cabbage, mustard, and assorted (and occasionally top secret) spices, there could be something else for festival-goers to celebrate: the kicked-up condiment could be one of Tennessee’s state symbols by then.
Tennessee State Representative Kevin Raper — who is from Cleveland, the epicenter of the state’s Hot Slaw obsession — recently filed House Bill 1597, which proposes giving the spicy side dish an official state designation. He has also filed a second bill that would name Cleveland as Tennessee’s official Hot Slaw Capital. “A lot of people thought it was just coleslaw heated up. It’s nothing like that,” Raper said during remarks on the State House floor earlier this week. “It is more of a mustard, vinegar, hot pepper-type of slaw.”
According to the Memphis Flyer, Raper also said that hot slaw would be “AN” official state food, not “THE” official state food — although the outlet notes that the bill’s language says that it would designate “hot slaw as the official state food.” And because this man loves his slaw, he also explained that the slaw can be used as a condiment on hot dogs, hamburgers, and other sandwiches and that it can be served as a side dish or even “in lieu of chow-chow at times.”
Related: Spicy Coleslaw
Some of Raper’s fellow representatives took a couple of digs at his slawsome (I’M SO SORRY) proposal, even after its co-sponsor in the state Senate, Sen. Adam Lowe, passed out samples of hot slaw to committee members. “I will not mention the counties, there’s a pride in moonshine,” state Senator Ken Yager said, according to State Affairs. “So maybe we should make moonshine the state drink. Think about it. Think about it.”
Unfortunately for Yager, Tennessee chose milk as its state beverage in 2009, noting its role as an “essential component to building strong muscles and bones in children as well as mending injured muscles and bones in adults.” (Take that, Moonshine). Tennessee also named the tomato as its official state fruit in 2003, and last year, state lawmakers voted to make pumpkin pie an official state symbol. “A true American classic, it is most appropriate that we select the delicious and wholesome pumpkin pie as a symbol of the Volunteer State,” the text of the House Joint Resolution read.
This is good enough news for hot slaw lovers throughout the state, but come on, it seems like the only symbol Tennessee needs is Dolly Parton, as the official state … everything.
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