In Sunday's Boston Globe, there was a funny little article lamenting the fact that New Hampshire can't figure out how to market itself. Pitiful. Or pitiable. One of those two. Poor New Hampshire has neither Maine's iconic lobsters, nor does it have Vermont's maple syrup. Granted, New Hampshire has syrup. A lot of it. But it doesn't have the cachet that Vermont's liquid gold has. Nobody buys their friends New Hampshire maple syrup for Christmas, unless they're trying to say "I like you, but not that much."
The only thing New Hampshire had going for it, in a marketing sense, was that Old Man of the Mountain, but he fell off the mountain in 2003. Now, New Hampshire's got bupkus.
Well, that's not entirely true. They have an Ivy League university (Dartmouth), a world-class motor speedway (Loudon), the shortest coastline in America (18 miles) and the most bitchin' state slogan in the country (Live Free or Die). According to the N.H. tourism flacks interviewed for the article, they actually have everything. Their problem is they can't pinpoint which one of those super sexy things to highlight.
It's not like they need the tourists — according to the article, N.H. had about 34 million visitors to its granite hills in 2008. That's more than Maine's nearly 32 million visitors and far more than Vermont's paltry and somewhat startling/embarrassing 14 million (in 2007).
Though N.H. nabs the tourists just fine, there's just nothing quite catchy about the state. Sure, the first potato in the U.S. was grown in N.H., and sure, the highest recorded wind speed happened at Mt. Washington. Oh, and don't forget that America's number one tax on poor people — the lottery — was started in New Hampshire. But what is really special about New Hampshire?
No, really. Tell me what's special about New Hampshire. I've only been there once and it was by accident.
Since Vermont enjoys superlative status among its contemporaries, I figured maybe Vermont might be willing to help out its easternmost neighbor with a few ideas that will really get N.H. on the map.They don't need to hire some fancy branding company from Florida to tell them how to sex up their state. They just need to ask us.
So have at it, Vermonters. What's good about New Hampshire? If we've got cows and syrup, steeples and covered bridges, Phish and Ben & Jerry's in Vermont, what does New Hampshire have? I'll give you some help:
J.D. Salinger (dead)
Bode Miller (alive)
Crazy early primaries
Laconia Bike Week
No sales tax
No income tax
Sarah Silverman (N.H.-bred)
Mt. Washington auto road
Alan Shepard (America's first astronaut, also dead)
But what else? The best idea gets my undying esteem, and maybe a container of Stonyfield Farms yogurt. For further motivation, consult the Granite State of Mind video below.
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