Bill Would Establish Official State Aroma

It smells like this (image: Netherzone via Wikipedia cc: 4.0 cropped)

Officially, the Official State Crap project has only reached Indiana, which would make Iowa next on the list. But there is precedent for taking a state out of order if relevant legislative action is (a) imminent (b) stupid (c) both, and at least one of those conditions seems to be met here.

On January 23, New Mexico legislator William P. Soules introduced Senate Bill 188, which if passed would make that state the first in the nation, apparently, and surprisingly, to have an official state aroma. While there was at least some debate as to which of the state’s many aromas should be so honored, the consensus was to accept the sponsor’s suggestion that New Mexico name “the aroma of green chile roasting in the fall” as its official smell.

As is so often the case, here grade-school children are the (a) culprits (b) heroes (c) scapegoats responsible for proposing yet another state symbol, according to the Albuquerque Journal. But when I read that a group of fifth-graders had been allowed to suggest an official aroma, and that the aroma they came up with was chile-roasting, I strongly suspected adult (a) supervision (b) coercion (c) inception was involved, and I was right.

This is said to have come about while Soules (a retired teacher) was visiting the class at Monte Vista Elementary. In a valiant effort to get them interested in what a legislature does, Soules asked them if they could identify the state’s official bird. Some poindexter knew that it was the roadrunner, and the discussion of official things continued. Somehow “the smell of roasting chile” came up, and Soules then “implored the class: ‘Let’s see about putting the smell of chile roasting as our official aroma for the state of New Mexico. Would you all help me?'” Yes, they would.

At a hearing on the bill, some of the fifth-graders testified in favor of the bill (via an online platform). “Is there anyone in the room who does not know what chile roasting smells like?” one student asked. Nobody who mattered didn’t, at least, and the committee voted 5-0 to recommend passing the bill. If it is adopted by the legislature and signed into law, it would take effect on June 16, 2023, just in time for the fall harvest and roasting of chiles, hopefully to be followed by a green-chile-aroma-inspired increase in tourism.

The Journal reported that some state residents were semi-riled by Steven Colbert’s joke last week that he had assumed New Mexico’s official aroma would be the smell of “an abandoned RV that a bobcat is living in,” but it doesn’t look like they were really all that upset.