Name Game

Would a Granite Stater by any other name smell as sweet? If you hail from the great state of Texas you are known as a “Texan.” If you are from the upper peninsula of Michigan you are called a “Yooper.” A person from Ohio is a “Buckeye” and a native of Costa Rica is festively called a “Tico.” If you are from New Zealand you could be called a “Kiwi” and if you have the fortune to have been born in Australia you are known as an “Ozzie.” If you come from Massachusetts ... OK, we won’t go there.

Some states and regions have the luxury of simply adding an “er” to the end of the state name and having a nomenclature that is immediately recognizable and descriptive. (It’s OK, he’s a “New Yorker” or he was a quiet “Mainer.”)

And to a Southerner (there it is again) anybody from above the Mason-Dixon line is automatically a “Yankee.” (Sorry, Red Sox fans.)

We in the tradition-rich, historical state of New Hampshire have yet to come up with a distinctive, descriptive nickname that sticks.

Oh, there have been candidates here and there. Let’s examine them, shall we?

There is the obvious play on the states official nickname, a “Granite Stater,” and while this has been perhaps descriptively accurate (describing folks who have traditionally been stoic and independent) it has for some reason failed to catch on, popularly speaking.

I recently saw the term “New Hampshireman” in print for the first time and it occurred to me that it’s limited usage is perhaps related to the “man” at the end of the word. As of the writing this column the state has a pretty high female population, including my lovely wife who would perhaps object to this somewhat outdated moniker.

What about “New Hampshirite” you say? To this I would respond that “New Hampshirite” is not only difficult to say, but it sounds vaguely like an alien race on Star Trek.

So yours truly has spent many a fortnight in my basement laboratory coming up with a solution to this lack-of-a-sobriquet crisis, and I am ready to submit my proposal: “Hamper.”

It’s witty, easy to say and with its slightly whimsical flair it casts the state in a new light. New Hampshire has a pretty healthy tourist population these days, thanks to our beautiful foliage, great skiing and early presidential primary, so to promote ourselves as fun-loving would be a coup for the state’s tourism board.

Also, it looks great on a T-shirt.

I know, I know. Change is hard. So I suggest working the term into your vocabulary slowly to get a handle on it. You could, for instance, start referring to our governor (respectfully of course) as the “Head Hamper,” or calling all that weekend traffic going north on Rte. 93 “Hamper Holiday” traffic.

This will take time and determination, so steady yourself. But, remember, future generations of Hampers are depending on you. So, if you would help me out with promoting this new handle around the state that would make me one happy Hamper. NH

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