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What Your State's Official Appetizer Should Be At The DNC

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

At the convention last night, each state presented a video announcing their delegation's vote for a presidential candidate.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

One memorable clip came from the ocean state. Rhode Island Democratic Party Chairman Joseph McNamara made his pronouncement while a chef, wearing a mask, of course, held a big platter of calamari.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOSEPH MCNAMARA: And our state appetizer, calamari, is available in all 50 states.

CHANG: Politics and an infomercial all in one, but a state appetizer? I mean, really? Well, we had to fact-check that with an authority.

MEGAN HAMLIN-BLACK: Megan Hamlin-Black, Rhode Island state librarian. Rhode Island does have an official state appetizer. It's Rhode Island general law, Section 42-4-19, state appetizer. And it says, calamari is hereby designated as the official state appetizer for the state.

FADEL: That's not just a cooked squid, mister. It's the law. And it was passed in June of 2014.

CHANG: And the biggest proponent of the calamari law - none other than state Rep. Joseph McNamara himself.

MCNAMARA: Yes, I was the sponsor of that legislation.

CHANG: A tricky task in a state known for plenty of other seafood, especially clams. And Rep. McNamara said he faced a lot of people who didn't understand why he was doing this.

MCNAMARA: At the time, believe it or not, there was quite a bit of criticism at one point. But the truth of the matter is we are situated geographically right in the middle of the Atlantic squid migration.

FADEL: McNamara claims his state has the largest squid fishing fleet on the East Coast, and he's eager to point out that squid is...

MCNAMARA: Very sustainable. It reproduces every 90 days. That is nutritious. However, many individuals, if you were to say, oh, let's cook some squid tonight, wouldn't know where to start.

FADEL: Try this; pan fry it with banana peppers and garlic butter. That's a popular way to serve calamari in Rhode Island.

CHANG: By the way, when calamari became the official state appetizer, the president of the Rhode Island Fishermen's Alliance said, quote, "squid is to Rhode Island what the potato is to Idaho." As of press time, no other states had presented legislation for their own state appetizers. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.