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The Defining Icons of Wisconsin

When something becomes commonly recognized as a graphic symbol of something else, it becomes an icon. Just as hot dogs and apple pie symbolize the United States, Wisconsin has many cultural icons well.

Wisconsin icons are products of state and civic leaders, of people who promote agriculture, industry and tourism, and of the cultural activities of Wisconsin's citizens themselves. These icons become commonly recognized through special events, advertising, marketing and all forms of mass media.

Wisconsin icons attract public attention and influence perceptions of the state when they appear on mass-produced items and in the popular press.

Examine these icons of Wisconsin and discover what they symbolize. What do they say about the state's cultural identity? Do they capture the essence of Wisconsin or do they oversimplify and exaggerate? Is there a basis for these images in the state's history and culture? Whose stories are represented here and whose are not? If you are a Wisconsinite, do you see yourself in these icons?

Dairyland

Dairyland

Wisconsin is known as America's Dairyland. Our automobile license plates tell everyone that, even though today the state ranks second to California in overall dairy production.


How did we become known as the dairy state, and why are we still known by that moniker today?

Food and Drink

Food and Drink

There are several types of food and drink that are associated with Wisconsin. The abundance of rivers, lakes, and streams in Wisconsin provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including fish and deer.

Why do you think beer, brats, and cheese are some of the first things that come to mind when people talk about Wisconsin?

Recreation

Recreation

Have you ever spent an evening at the local bowling alley, gone deer hunting or fishing, danced a polka at a Wisconsin wedding, or enjoyed a festive tailgate party before a Wisconsin sporting event?

How have recreational events become part of Wisconsin's culture? What do they say about the people of Wisconsin?

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