Your State’s Biggest Stereotype, According to Google Maps

What's your state's biggest stereotype?
PHOTO: What’s your state’s biggest stereotype? (image capture by Barry Kaufman)

You may not be aware, but there’s a secret hidden inside the popular Google Maps navigation app.

Every time you cross a border, a tiny icon pops up at the bottom, welcoming you to that particular state or country with a cartoonish representation of the type of citizen you may encounter during your visit. After a long road trip, it can make for a fun and unexpected distraction, (which is, of course, something we all need while driving a motor vehicle.)

In the interest of motoring safety, and because some of Google’s choices in representing various states wander into bizarre territory, we’ve collected a few favorites below. And in doing so, we’ve discovered that every Google Map icon basically falls into one of five categories:

People Wearing Bizarre Costumes

Imagine Maine and Maryland showing up to a Halloween party together having to explain to everyone that they didn’t plan this. No one would believe them, and that’s when the rumors start that they’re dating.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure I saw a guy in that same bald eagle getup at a July 4th party. He crushed a whole 18-pack of Milwaukee’s Best and backflipped off a roof into my neighbor’s pool. Fun guy, he will be missed.

The Arizona icon is of course elaborately disguised as a cactus because he’s hiding from Joe Arpaio.

 Musicians

Let’s just all take a minute and be grateful that Google went with the young Elvis, then stand in awe of this majestic cartoon representation of Prince. Even in cartoon form, he’s better looking than 99 percent of the people reading this. This Google Icon is single-handedly responsible for a 25 percent increase in pregnancies in Minnesota.

We’re assuming that the Michigan icon is supposed to represent Aretha Franklin. Take special note of the cherry on her shoulder because Google Maps has an odd fixation with:

People With Things On Their Shoulders

We have to split these up because A) There are so many and B) there’s entirely too much comedic potential here and so many questions that need answered.

Why is Alabama a boxer with Legend of Zelda rupees on his shoulders? The alien and the chili pepper I get, but why is New Mexico represented by Dan Aykroyd’s character from “The Great Outdoors”? Did we really need those slippers to make the connection that Kansas is Dorothy? Or the fleur de lis to drive home the Mardi Gras icon?

The maple leaf on Vermont is a nice touch, though, since, without it, I would have rightfully assumed that jug was full of hooch.

It took me forever to realize that was supposed to be Johnny Cash and not Neil Diamond. Does Arkansas even have diamond mines? Why are they shaped differently than Alabama diamonds?

I’m not sure what those flowers are supposed to be around the pilgrim, but the first one of you who says, “mayflowers” and then chuckles to yourself about your little joke may leave the room now.

Excellent job on the George Washington icon, though. You can see him shrugging slightly as if to say, “Peanuts? What? Eh, whatever.”

Stereotypes

We get that the whole purpose of these things is to encapsulate an entire state with a single cartoon figure, but some of these are a little on the nose.

Nebraska and Wisconsin seem into it, but read the body language on Texas and Canada. I never realized a cartoon character could so effectively convey the emotion “Just take the picture already” so well.

Kentucky, meanwhile is too boozed up to care. Again, a little on the nose.

Icons That Don’t Make a Lot of Sense

Look, Google, we’re trying to operate a motor vehicle at a high rate of speed on an interstate here. You’ve already distracted us enough with your cartoon characters, don’t make us have to actually pick up the phone and try to Google what this icon means.

Take Delaware, for example. He’s decked out in patriotic gear and has shopping bags on both arms. Apart from being what every European pictures when they think of an American, why does this represent Delaware? Is it because shopping is tax-free? Because most credit card companies are based there?

And why is New Jersey a waitress, South Carolina a “Gone With the Wind” character (which was set in Georgia) and New Hampshire the first part of every Van Halen video?

So many questions, Google. Questions I can’t really answer since, y’know, I’m driving.

Have you spotted any other Google Maps icons? Tell us about them in the comments below.