Why is Connecticut Called the Nutmeg State?

Author: Jason Coles

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Connecticut is the same as many other U.S. states in the sense that it has an official state nickname. Something else Connecticut has is an incredibly popular unofficial state nickname, the Nutmeg State, but why was this nickname adopted?

One of the earliest times this unofficial nickname was adopted was in the book “State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Flowers, and Other Symbols”, composed by George Earlie Shankle and published in 1941.

Why is Connecticut the nutmeg state

The story’s creator was Sam Slick, who was a fictional character created by Judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton of Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Connecticut nickname was gifted to the state of Connecticut due to the early inhabitants of the state having a rather large reputation for being so resourceful and smart, which led to the sales of wooden nutmegs.

However, there is no proof or feasible evidence to suggest that New England sellers actually sold wooden nutmegs. “It’s not really clear if anybody did that…or if it originated in the idea that Yankee peddlers were so good at their business that they would be able to sell you a wooden nutmeg,” stated Natalie Belanger, who is an Adult Programs Manager at the Connecticut Historical Society.

However, there have since been popular theories and historical data that believe nutmeg was indeed used and sold within the state many years ago.

Learn why Connecticut is Known as the Nutmeg State

Early sailors would bring nutmeg seeds back on their foreign excursions, and over time, the Yankee peddlers gathered a rather large reputation for selling fake nutmegs that had been carved from wood, rather than the real seeds.

However, it was later suggested that this was one big confusion and southerners were to blame for the “fake nutmeg” mishaps.

In the 1980 issue of the Connecticut Magazine, Elizabeth Abbe suggested that it was southern customers and their lack of knowledge of the seed that was where the confusion was lying. She stated that the southerners were unaware that nutmegs had to be grated, which is why they were wrongly accusing Yankee merchants of being scammers.

Nutmeg state

She wrote; “unknowing buyers may have failed to grate nutmegs, thinking they had to be cracked like a walnut. Nutmegs are wood and bounce when struck. If southern customers did not grate them, they may very well have accused the Yankees of selling useless ‘wooden’ nutmegs, unaware that they wear down to a pungent powder to season pies and bread”.

So, the two popular theories are that fake nutmegs were sold, which was later disproved and changed to the lack of knowledge of the southerners that was to blame, and the other popular theory is that nutmegs were never even popular or widely sold within the state itself, which was later stated by Natalie Belanger.

Funnily enough, despite their cultural significance within the state and overall importance, nutmegs do not grow in Connecticut naturally. In fact, the nutmeg tree is native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, which are located in Indonesia, where nutmegs are cultivated, as well as in the West Indies!

Does Connecticut Have Other Nicknames?

Connecticut, as well as having the Nutmeg State nickname, which, despite being unofficial, is one of the most popular names given to the state, has adopted some other nicknames over the past several years. The Constitution State is the official nickname and perhaps the most historical and symbolic one.

The other two nicknames that were given to Connecticut are “The Land of Steady Habits” and “The Provisions State.” Out of all the nicknames Connecticut adopted in the past, the most notable is certainly the nutmeg state and the constitution state.

Additionally, Connecticut did adopt a state motto, which is the phrase to accompany the nickname. The Connecticut state motto can be found on the state seal and reads “Qui transtulit sustinet,” which is a Latin phrase that translates to “He Who Transplanted Continues to Sustain.”

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Jason Coles

Jason Coles is the Founder of Foreign USA and its Chief Content Writer and Editor. Recognized as a prolific business plan writer by many prominent immigration attorneys in the U.S., Jason has written over 1,200 business plans over the past 16+ years for start-ups looking to establish and expand their footprint in the United States.