10 Things You Might Not Know About Florida

Hello, Chatterbugs and Beekeepers! :wave:

It may be difficult for those who have never been to the United States :us: to comprehend just how different life is in each state, especially when American movies and TV shows tend to focus on New York and California. In addition, like in other countries around the world, we hold, celebrate, and suffer from many regional stereotypes that affect people’s perceptions.

For more English practice, check out this NPR podcast with transcript on why people create stereotypes.

I am from the state of Florida, officially nicknamed the Sunshine State :sunny:. This makes me a Floridian. With a massive area of 170,311 square km (or 65,757 square miles), Florida has multiple cultural regions. Nevertheless, when people hear the word “Florida,” they often associate the state with stereotypes of having many retired senior citizens, sensational crimes that inspired the Florida Man Internet meme, and unfortunately one of the country’s highest number of COVID-19 cases.

So I decided to share some more light-hearted information about my home state that you might have not known before. Please note that this is solely an informal opinion piece with heavy Central Floridian bias. :wink:

1. Florida has the best orange juice.

More than 90% of orange juice in the USA is made from Florida’s oranges. The state is also the world’s leading producer of grapefruit… but I chose to focus on oranges instead because grapefruit is not my favorite. :joy: Back to oranges! Early Spanish explorers like Juan Ponce de León planted the first orange trees in Florida in the 1500’s. Now, you will see groves with countless rows of orange trees if you drive around Central or South Florida. So make sure to have a glass of orange juice if you visit! But be warned: You will become an orange juice snob and no other orange juice will ever taste the same way again.

2. Florida is home to NASA’s most well-known spaceport, or a site for launching spacecraft: the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

You can learn about space exploration from their interactive exhibits and see space shuttles up close and personal in their Rocket Garden. Check out this calendar to catch the next rocket launch you can watch there live.

3. A true Floridian experience is not complete without a Publix sub.

Publix is a supermarket chain founded in Florida that operates only in the Southeastern United States. The sub sandwiches, sometimes referred to as “Pub subs,” that they serve in their delis are famous for being delicious. I think the surprising thing about a Publix sub is that you do not expect a sandwich from a grocery store to be so mouthwatering good. Publix subs even have their own fan pages and products.

4. Floridians coexist with alligators and manatees.

There are about 1.25 million alligators living in the state of Florida. There are also about 1,000 American crocodiles in the state, but they can only be found in South Florida. In addition to living in the marshes, swamps, rivers, and lakes of Florida, you can also find alligators in retention ponds (artificial ponds to hold stormwater) and golf course ponds. So be careful around any body of water as there is probably a gator in it! But you can be rest assured that alligators rarely attack humans, which is why Floridians are used to seeing and walking by them without fear.

About 6,300 adorable manatees can be found in Florida as well. Manatees (sometimes known as “sea cows,” even though they are closely related to elephants) like to swim in Florida waters as they need warmth to survive. Florida manatees are vulnerable to extinction, especially due to water pollution and collisions with boats in their habitats. Because of their protected status, you can only legally swim with wild manatees in Crystal River following strictly enforced guidelines like just floating and passively observing.

5. Flip flops are the state shoes of Florida.

Ok, so there is no such thing as “state shoes,” but if there was, flip flops would definitely be the Floridian’s choice. Depending on your cultural background, you may think flip flops are reserved for the beach or for lounging around the house, but in the state of Florida, flip flops are standard. You can wear them practically any time, anywhere.

6. Floridians are accustomed to hurricanes.

Florida has been hit by more hurricanes than any other state in the USA - a whopping 121 hurricanes since the year 1851. Hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th. Floridians are used to stocking up on water, canned food, and batteries and boarding up windows with plywood. Floridian children grow up knowing Hurricane Days, when school is cancelled, instead of Snow Days like kids do living in northern states.

7. Amusement parks give special discounts to Florida residents.

Theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios give sweet deals to Floridians. It is also common to hear a Floridian get into these parks for free because they know someone who works for one of these companies. Oftentimes, park employees receive free tickets to give to up to 10 people.

8. With 17 out of the 30 top cities for lightning, Florida is the lightning capital of the USA.

Despite being called the Sunshine State, Florida has incredible thunderstorms. More people die by lightning strikes in Florida than in any other state. If you’re a storm chaser, then the best time to see as much lightning as possible is in the month of July.

9. Swimming pools are a big deal in Florida.

If a Floridian doesn’t have their own pool, they are still in luck because there are many public pools, whether as part of community centers or apartment complexes. Most pools of private homes are covered with screened enclosures to keep insects out. Because swimming pools are everywhere, there are many pool parties for children and adults. I even have group prom photos taken around my friend’s pool! :joy:

10. Gatorade was invented in Florida.

In 1965, the sports drink Gatorade was originally made by researchers at the University of Florida to hydrate their student athletes on the Gators American football team. This is why the drink is called “Gator-ade.” It was scientifically formulated to replace fluids and electrolytes lost due to physical exertion. After drinking Gatorade, the Gators won more games and soon, other college football programs started ordering the drink. Today, Gatorade is distributed in over 80 countries.

I hope you learned at least one new thing about Florida from this Chatterpost today!

Which of these 10 things about Florida surprised you the most?
  • Orange juice
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Publix sub sandwiches
  • Alligators and manatees
  • Flip flops
  • Hurricanes
  • Florida resident park discounts
  • Lightning capital
  • Swimming pool culture
  • Gatorade

0 voters

I’d love to hear from you!

  • What do you think about regional stereotypes?
  • What fun facts can you share about your hometown or state/region that people might not know about?
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This post was definitely inspired by @AryoryKarakus when she mentioned Publix on my introduction post. Thanks, Ary! :grin:

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Hey there! This post was so well-written and made me a bit home sick :sweat_smile::joy: I’m transferring to UF online soon and had no idea that Gatorade was created that way despite being a South Floridian.

Awesome post! :sparkles:

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Thanks a lot :heavy_heart_exclamation: I went to UF! :crocodile: I cannot remember the name of the building or how frequently they did this, but the Food Science department gives free samples to students who agree to be test subjects for their research. The only downside is that you don’t get to choose what study to be a part of. My friends convinced me to go there one day for free food samples and, of course, the test they were doing that day was on grapefruit! :rofl: GO GATORS!

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Fun/interesting fact about my hometown is that we have a witch tower! And that my high school is a castle ! Go check out Idstein on Instagram or Wikipedia. its a cute little city in beautiful Hessen and i miss it a looooot

Regional stereotypes definitely exist and are annoying! For example people always think that only old people live in Florida hahahaha

i would love to visit Florida and more of the south of the US…one day

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A witch tower?! I had never even heard of that before and had to look it up. How cool! :exploding_head: Did you feel like you were attending Hogwarts? :mage: :woman_mage: Especially since you have a witch tower in your town. :joy: Idstein looks so charming. :heart_eyes:

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This is such a great article @Asamibug! :boom: I loved reading all these cultural facts and bravo for the survey idea!! :clap: My favorites are numbers 3 and 10, it really gives a local and popular insight :drooling_face: :hugs:

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@Asamibug Thank you for sharing with us about things that are not so common to know. I think stereotypes are normal, but if people are interested in a culture, they should always dig up a little and discover how it really is.

A fun fact about my hometown is that we don’t have a subway, although it is a really big city :sweat_smile:.

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Thank you very much! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Hi, @27sp.sandra! Do you think your city will ever build a subway system one day? How do people usually get around?

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This was a super interesting read! Thanks for posting :star_struck:

I’ve been to Florida twice, but both times were very brief and it was only really to go to Disney.
I think I should add Florida to my bucket list, and spend a bit more time there on my next trip!

When people find out that I am from South Africa, they often ask whether animals roam free through our cities/towns. Some people also wonder whether we actually have cities in South Africa, and whether we have electricity. :upside_down_face: :see_no_evil:

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Thank you very much :heartbeat: :heartbeat: :joy:

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People usually get around large buses called Transmilenio but they are always packed and one can notice something bigger and efficient is missing. Sadly we have been waiting since the 70’s for the subway :metro: to arrive and every time we have a new major he/she promises a lot but they just steal our money and never do anything :triumph::cold_sweat:. Maybe one day :sleepy:.

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Fun post @Asamibug, and hello from a neighbor from your north (I’m in Atlanta and studying French). While I’m proud to say I knew most of these Florida facts, I did not know about it being the lightening capital or about the manatees! Fascinating.

But nothing made me happier than seeing Pub Subs on your list - I can attest to the addictive draw of these delicious sandwiches. :slight_smile: And the oranges are truly amazing - much better than California’s, I must say.

Even as a visitor, there are so many unique regions and vibes to Florida. We have frequently taken trips to Miami, Orlando, 30A, Palm Coast, and Key West – they are all very different from each other, and all really fun in their unique way. One thing is certain though: Floridians love to have fun no matter where they are.

I love regional differences (if not stereotypes) in the US - for me, it’s just part of being a really large, really diverse country. I’ve lived in New Jersey, Louisiana, California, Washington, and Atlanta - some of the most unique places in the US!

New Jersey has some of the most enduring stereotypes of these places, mostly being known for mobsters (The Sopranos, filmed where I grew up, is a good primer) and overcrowded, ugly, industrial landscapes (also accurate; Bugs Bunny once described the moon as “like New Jersey, but with more trees”). Most people only know it for the large airport in Newark, which serves much of the air travel to NYC. I can’t deny though that New Jersey does have some beautiful places in the northwest, west, and south.

(Including obligatory cute-kid picture of my daughter at the famous LC-39 launchpad at Kennedy Space Center.)

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I’m glad you liked the post, @ChereeKr! :grinning: It is common for people to go to Florida just for Disney or for Miami. I think it is challenging to see other sights if you fly there and do not rent a car. Exploring Florida requires a lot of driving. :persevere:

One of my good friends lives in Cape Town! He recently taught me about South Africans having braais any chance they get. :grin: :cut_of_meat: That was definitely an interesting part about South African culture that I didn’t know before.

Ah, what a pity, @27sp.sandra! I hope they build a subway soon. :crossed_fingers: I wish more places in the USA are connected by trains as well.

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Hi, @mgm! Thank you for your lovely reply. I love Atlanta! My best friend lives there. :heartpulse: I’m happy to read that you were able to explore different parts of Florida.

I was surprised you didn’t mention Jersey Shore as one of the stereotypes. :see_no_evil: I’ve never been to New Jersey, but I’d like to visit. Any recommendations of must-sees?

Your daughter is adorable! :heart_eyes: She looks so determined. Maybe a future astronaut one day? :woman_astronaut: :rocket:

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@Asamibug you’re so right, how did I overlook Jersey Shore?! That’s probably one of the odder aspects of New Jersey, that it’s referred to as “the shore” rather than “the beach”.

Honestly I wouldn’t recommend putting NJ on your to-visit list unless you have a friend who lives there. A really good friend. :joy: The shore of NJ does not hold a candle to the beautiful of Florida!

As for northern NJ, it does have the best views of Manhattan – I can recommend Hoboken, and specifically Castle Point as having the best views. NJ also has incredible Italian food - whether proper meals or the notorious sub sandwiches. Quite different from your pub subs! The fresh mozzarella – “mutz” in NJ speak – is the best.

Thank you for the kind words about my daughter - and you are very perceptive! She is extremely determined. I don’t think being an astronaut is in her future, but she’s very focused on being a writer, and I have no doubt she’ll do anything she sets her mind to! :heart:

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This was a great post - the fact about flip flops was excellent - I am nut sure that I would last through the Berlin Winters without my winterboots though!
Kiru

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Thanks for your recommendations, @mgm! Italian food is one of my favorites so I wouldn’t mind swinging by New Jersey just for that. :drooling_face: :spaghetti: That’s amazing that your daughter already has a love of writing! :writing_hand: :heart: That is not so common with little ones nowadays.

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