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NH students push apple cider as state drink

By Norma Love
Associated Press Writer / October 19, 2009

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CONCORD, N.H.—Moxie is the official beverage in Maine. It's coffee milk in Rhode Island and cranberry juice in Massachusetts.

But there is none in New Hampshire, and some elementary school students in Jaffrey want to change that.

Last year, three students came up with naming apple cider -- not hard cider -- as the state beverage. They wrote state Rep. Bonnie Mitchell, D-Jaffrey, and have persuaded her to sponsor legislation to do so.

Their choice falls somewhere in the middle of beverage types in the two dozen or so other states that have official drinks; they range from milk to whiskey.

Mitchell said Monday she spoke to the students' class last year about their power to get laws passed. She pointed out that schoolchildren successfully lobbied lawmakers to name the pumpkin as the state fruit three years ago and the Chinook as the state dog this year.

New Hampshire has, among other things, an official state bird, insect, animal and flower.

Mitchell said she is more interested in getting the kids involved in government than in what New Hampshire selects as a state drink.

"As far as legislation that's going to change people's lives, it seems frivolous. I don't think it is, but it's important for children to see how the process works," she said.

Mitchell said she expects the Jaffrey Grade School students to take an active role as the bill goes through the legislative process this winter.

Chuck Souther, owner of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, sees it as a wonderful civics lesson that might help growers.

"Recognition always helps," he said. "Is it going to make more sales? Gosh, I'd like to think so."

Gov. John Lynch isn't ready to say whether he'll support apple cider. The students should go through the legislative process first, he said Monday.

"Then I'll deal with it," he said.

In 2006, a group of Harrisville elementary students from Wells Memorial School successfully campaigned to make the pumpkin New Hampshire's official fruit. The campaign began as a class civics project. Harrisville is in the Keene area, which holds a popular annual pumpkin festival.

The students traveled to Concord to testify for their bill. They wore orange T-shirts and lobbied by passing out pumpkin lollipops and handmade stuffed felt pumpkins.

Earlier this year, a group of seventh graders from the Ross Lurgio Middle School in Bedford won a similar law naming the Chinook the state dog. The Chinook, a cross between a husky and a farm dog, is the only breed to have originated in New Hampshire. Of the almost 800 registered Chinooks today, 450 live in New England.

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On the Net: http://www.netstate.com/states/tables/state(underscore)beverages.htm