Jumping Jacks Are Missouri's State Exercise

by Abby Johnston

During this spring's legislate session, Missouri's Gov. Jay Nixon used his veto power to slash 33 bills. The Democratic governor set a personal record with the ink slinging, vetoing gun bills, abortion wait periods, and tax cuts galore. As we wait to see if the Republican-led House and Senate will fire back and try to overturn the vetoes, there's at least one bill that doesn't have lawmakers jumping through hoops to sign into law: As of Aug. 28, jumping jacks will be the official state exercise of Missouri.

House Bill 1603 landed on Nixon's desk this spring, having easily passed the House and Senate, and was signed into law last Thursday. While the bill was moving through the chambers, students from Pershing Elementary School — named after the father of jumping jacks, Army General John J. Pershing — came and lobbied legislators to get the bill passed. For once, that seemed to work. We should start sending little kids to lobby for everything!

The Missouri-born Pershing, who led the American forces during World War I, is credited with inventing the jumping jack while a cadet at West Point. Missouri is the second state to have an official exercise. Maryland claimed walking in 2008, but I doubt they have as good of a rationale for that one.

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Jumping jacks are all the rage. Look, even Meesh is doing them!

Though Missouri might be an early adopter in official state exercises, jumping jacks are just adding to a long list of weird state symbols. Plenty of states have staked out some pretty bizarre and oddly specific things that they feel are unique to their state. Please keep in mind that, at some point, people used tax-payers dollars to legislate all of these things.

Official state question of New Mexico: "Red or green?"Chiles are so prolific to New Mexican cuisine that this question is asked often enough of diners to earn an official designation.

Official state muffin of Minnesota: BlueberryA blueberry muffin seems pretty all-American to me, but since blueberries are native to northeastern Minnesota, I guess we can let this pass. Hmph.

Official environmental song of Louisiana: "The Gifts of the Earth" Louisiana got selfish with the official songs category, naming four different ones with nuanced designations like this one. Official cartoon character of Oklahoma: GustyGusty was used to deliver the weather forecast for many years, and became important enough to the people of Oklahoma that they adopted him as a state symbol.

Official neckwear of Arizona: The bolo tieAnd what would the wild, wild west be without dusty Arizona and the seemingly useless bolo tie?