15 Things You Might Not Know About Mississippi

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1. The famous hunting trip during which President Theodore Roosevelt refused to kill a bear, spawning the name “Teddy Bears,” took place in Mississippi. 

2. Dr. James Hardy performed the first human lung transplant in the world at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1963.

3. Mississippi was home to many famous people, including Jim Henson, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, B.B. King, and Jimmy Buffett.

4. Mississippi is one of 21 states to have milk as its state beverage.

5. According to the Mississippi Code of laws, it is illegal to seduce a woman over the age of 18 with “promised or pretended marriage.” Should someone be found guilty of such a crime, he could land behind bars for up to five years.

6. The world's largest (and some claim only) cactus plantation is in Edwards, Mississippi.

7. Tamales are a staple of delta cuisine. They tend to be smaller than Latin American tamales, and are simmered instead of seamed. And often served with gravy!

8. Barq's Root Beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by chemist Edward Adolf Barq, Sr. Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires is credited with inventing the first form of root beer, which he originally called "root tea," in the 1860s; he introduced his concoction to the public at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876. The Hires family sold the first bottled, commercial version of root beer in 1893. Barq's, which was bought by the Coca-Cola Company in 1995, has been in continuous operation since 1898.

9. National Geographic magazine is printed in Corinth, Mississippi.

10. Along with Helsinki, Moscow, and Varna in Bulgaria, Jackson, Mississippi is one of only 4 cities in the world officially sanctioned to host the International Ballet Competition. When a group in New York was looking for a space to host an international ballet competition in the 1970s, dance instructor Thalia Mara managed to persuade them to choose Jackson, the city where she had recently established a new dance company. Mara reasoned that it would give competitors a taste of real Middle America and hoped that the competition might help her struggling business.

11. The first store to sell shoes in pairs was Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1884.

12. The nation’s largest Bible restoration company, Norris Bookbinding, is in Greenwood, Mississippi.

13. Although predated by a handful of the Seven Sisters, Mississippi University for Women (founded in 1884) was the first public women's college in the U.S.

14. An ancient biblical manuscript, said to be the oldest book in America, is housed at Ole Miss.

15. In 1935, Brothers Fred and Al Key, aka “the Flying Keys” of Meridian, Mississippi, set the world record for keeping a plane aloft. Refueling the plane in the air, they kept it aloft for 653 hours and 34 minutes—that’s 27 days, 5 hours, and 34 minutes in the air.