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Minnesota: The syringe state?

Apparently slangin' needles is big business in Minnesota.

Apparently slangin' needles is big business in Minnesota.

In some ways states are defined by what they produce. Georgia, the Peach State, is so proud of its nectarous bounty that practically every Atlanta street has “peachtree” in its name. In Michigan, home to the Motor City, the once-proud auto industry shaped the working-class grit ingrained in its character.

Well, how about Minnesota? Sure, we have a boatload of lakes, loons, and hot dish. But what crow-able products do we contribute to the rest of the world? What of our wares is worth melding into our cultural identity?

According to USA Today, the answer could be needles.

Partnering with financial news website 24/7 Wall St., the paper put together a list of every state’s leading export. Turns out needles are Minnesota’s top seller.

The good news is this has more to do with the state’s healthy medical device industry than any “heroin boom.” Thanks in part to big-time makers Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, and Boston Scientific, Minnesota sent $875 million worth of syringes overseas last year, 24/7 Wall St. writes. Needles are apparently a hot item in Minnesota’s largest export industry, optic and medical products, which the state Department of Employment and Economic Development reports did a record $3.7 billion in sales last year.

Beyond the blood drawers, Minnesota is also big in the circuitry (Silicon Prairie?) and woodpulp games, netting $631 and $307 million, respectively. In Wisconsin, tractors were the biggest export, yielding $378 million last year, while North Dakota drew nearly half of its export bucks from its petroleum well. Big Pork reigns supreme in South Dakota, rearing 1.4 million pigs a year, and billion-dollar corn crops took No. 1 in Iowa.

As a potentially new nickname, the “Syringe State” isn’t as cool/lung disease-y as the Tobacco State (Kentucky) or as sweet as the Sugar State (Louisiana). But on the bright side, there are way lamer things we could ship to foreign lands. Rhode Island is pumping out iron waste and scrap metal (who needs a tetanus shot?). Elsewhere, Wyoming produces $890 million worth of sodium carbonate, which sounds so boring we didn’t bother Googling it.

So the next time you’re donating plasma for locally brewed beer money (or just to be a good person), ask to be pricked by a Minnesota-made needle with an air of locavore smugness.