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Foodie Freebie Friday: Nielsen-Massey Vanilla

This week is a Foodie Freebie that's close to home... literally! Prior to moving to Chicago, I grew up in the far north suburb of Waukegan, IL up until college. It wasn't until a few years ago, while living in Chicago, that I learned my hometown was also home to the popular Nielsen Massey vanilla empire. If you're a serious baker, I'd expect you to be pretty familiar with this brand of vanilla products!

Nielsen-Massey is a family owned and managed business dedicated to producing pure premium vanilla products since 1907. They are corporately headquartered in Waukegan, IL, which supplies vanilla products to North America, South America, Central America, and the Pacific Rim. So if you live in these specific areas and purchase Nielsen-Massey vanilla products, you can be sure that they came from the Chicagoland area... specifically my hometown! For some great information on the history of vanilla and details of the Nielsen-Massey product line, check out their website.

This week's foodie freebie is for the bakers out there and is also in honor of my hometown of Waukegan, IL. If you haven't guessed by now...

Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Trio
descriptions of the vanillas below are from Nielsen-Massey
Mexican Vanilla Extract - Vanilla is actually native to Mexico, and is known by its creamy, spicy flavor that has a special affinity for dishes that contain chocolate, cinnamon and other warm spices. When properly processedd, Mexican vanilla is of exceptionally high quality and flavor. Nielsen-Massey imports only the finest Mexican vanilla beans, grown by skilled producers that carefully harvest and cure every pod for the finest flavor.

Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract - The world's finest and most consistent vanilla comes from Madagascar. Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla from Nielsen-Massey has a creamy, sweet, velvety flavor that is perfectly suited for a range of products from baked goods to ice creams, salad dressings to barbeque sauces. Madagscar Bourbon vanilla does not have anything to do with the American whiskey of the same name, but is rather named for the Bourbon Islands off the coast of Africa. Madagascar supplies more than 60% of the world's vanilla.

Tahitian Pure Vanilla - Tahitian vanilla beans are known for their aromatic, fruity. anisic-like flavor profile. Tahitian Pure vanilla is especially symbiotic with fruit-based products such as fruited yogurt and sorbet.

I hope the winner of this giveaway will have a fun vanilla adventure! Here's how you can get your hands on it...


Some guidelines:
- Giveaway is only for those who live in the United States. My apologies to my international readers!
- You must have a valid email address so that you can be contacted if you win.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about:
- Your hometown. Is it known for anything special? Maybe a specific type of food? Landmark? Headquarters to a well known company? Any interesting facts about your hometown? I've love to hear about where you're from!

Deadline: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 12 midnight CST.

Winner will be randomly chosen by Random.Org's Interger Generator based on the number of your comment and will be announced on Friday, January 23, 2009. Good luck!

82 comments

  1. I live in the town where Archway cookies are made (well, they shut down recently but were bought by another company and are re-opening again). That section of town smells divine! It always makes me crave cookies though which isn't so great on the waistline!

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  2. My hometown is Montreal, Quebec. Founded in 1535, it was known as Hochelaga, and was the first city discovered by the Europeans in North America. We're home to the Montreal Canadiens, one of the original six NHL teams, and also the 3rd most successful team in organized pro sports history.

    Montreal is the second largest city in Canada (the first is Toronto), and the second largest french-speaking city in the world (the first is Paris). We also hosted the world expo in 1967, and 40 years later, Forbes declared Montreal as the 10th cleanest city in the world. We get a ton of tourists, in part due to the yearly events, such as Just For Laughs, Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Grand Prix.

    Quebec's national food is definitely the Poutine, the stuff of which dreams are made. It's definitely not a healthy dish, but it's the ultimate in comfort food. It's composed of french fries (the fresher the better), 'squeaky' cheese curds and brown gravy. There's a great visual of poutine at http://fritwit.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/poutine-Ashton.216134313_std.jpg

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  3. I consider my hometown to be where I lived from 14 years on because before that we moved a lot. I live in the Tri Cities in Eastern Washington. The biggest thing we're probably known for is Hanford and the hydroplane races on the Columbia River. We also have a LOT of wineries in our area. OH and you can't forget the Kennewick Man =) Google any of that and you'll find my hometown. I am super excited about this giveaway!!

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  4. This sounds like a great giveaway. The town where I grew up was the home of Mary Sawyer, who was featured in the "Mary had a little lamb" nursery rhyme.

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  5. Hi there. Vanilla is my fave!

    Hometown: Bemidji, MN
    Known for: the 'real' Paul Bunyan and Babe statues, Wild Rice, and Hockey camp.

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  6. We are home to a lot of headquarters including J.C. Penney, Cadbury and Frito Lay.

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  7. My hometown has approximately 900 people who live there, has one blinking red light in town, a post office, 3 bars (of course), 2 party stores and our elementary school. That's it besides farms.

    They have a mean Chili cook-off these days and during Columbiaville Days Festival, they have a giant beer tent which is a lot of fun (except you ALWAYS run into everyone you know...)

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  8. Wow, I must have just caught this post! I live in Jacksonville, Florida. We had the superbowl here a few years ago!!! I grew up here and will probably always call it home. It is really a boring city, but we are close to Orlando and Disney...and get the Florida Citizen discount...but we havent been in about 6 years!!!

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  9. I'm from St. Louis- known for toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake and pink cream soda made by Vess! :-)

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  10. I'm from a VERY small town in west Michigan (300'ish people)... We aren't known for anything, other than being really small!! :)

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  11. Buffalo, NY - This is easy for me-- home of the Chicken Wing (they're not called Buffalo wings around here!) Great place to live :)

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  12. If there's anyplace to send a giveaway of vanilla, it would be to Minneapolis, MN - home of General Mills! What began as 2 flour mills on the Mississippi River over 200 years ago is now a huge multinational whose brands include such baking icons as Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and Bisquick.

    But the city's residents are also conscious of balance: in response to the processed foods that General Mills is known for, there are wonderful farmers' markets supported by advocates of local and sustainable foods. The newest is the Mill City Farmers Market - right in the shadow of the huge conglomerate!

    Along with St. Paul, this area is known as the Twin Cities and it's appropriate. On the food front, it is both a center for international food industry (Cargill is also HQ'd here) and a hub for the advocacy of local, sustainable and organic agriculture. It's just a short hop, skip and jump from Chicago so please come and visit!

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  13. Well, my hometown in Mobile, Alabama and we're known for starting Mardi Gras. Yay! :)

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  14. My hometown is actually a small town in NJ called Green Brook. The only thing it is famous for is Washington Rock, where George Washington stood out and looked out over NJ watching for the Red Coats to come in.

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  15. I'm from Mobile, Alabama. Like another commenter said, Mobile is the real birthplace of Mardi Gras. It's definitely Mobile's claim to fame. :)

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  16. My hometown is where Malt O Meal cereal is based out of. It's kind of cool because on different days and different wind directions you could tell what they were cooking.

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  17. My hometown is Syracuse, NY and we aren't really known for that much! However, in 2003 Syracuse University won the men's college basketball championship, so that was an exciting time for the city!

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  18. I'm from Mesquite, TX... we're famous for the rodeo! It's the rodeo capitol, actually...

    It's also a trap. If ya don't get out right after high school, youre likely to stay there forever. I got out! :)

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  19. I consider West Lafayette, IN my hometown (even though I wasn't born there). It's the home of Purdue University, so I'd say that's what it's known for - Go Boilers!

    I went to high school in Lafayette though and that's where Axl Rose went to high school. I used to drive by his g-mas house where he lived when he was in HS.

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  20. Morgantown, WV....we're known for the university here that is half of the city population! We're also known as "America's best small city."

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  21. I'm from Garnett, Kansas and for a long time we had a cheese factory that made great cheese and cheese curds. But it shut down a while back.

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  22. My hometown is Concord, NH, which is the political hub of the country during primary season! I love how passionate everyone becomes and the fact that there are ample opportunities to meet and greet the Presidential candidates. The non-stop adds, mailings and phone calls do get a bit old though. :)

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  23. Milwaukee (pronounced "mill-e-wah-que" which is Algonquin for "the good land." ala Wayne's World)is probably best known for beer - Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller were all once there. Miller still is - along with Leinenkugel, Lakefront and Sprecher. Let's see - we are also the Harley Davidson headquarters. And every summer we have tons of festivals on the lakefront - the biggest being Summerfest music festival. I like Milwaukee - I think it's highly underrated!

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  24. Fun giveaway! I adore vanilla and have been trying to do more baking.

    My hometown is Saline, MI, which is just outside Ann Arbor. Saline isn't known for much on its own. Ann Arbor is, of course, home to the University of Michigan (in fact, U of M was so close to home that I chose to attend MSU instead :) ). Of more relevance for foodies, Ann Arbor is also home to the famous Zingerman's, a local deli turned national mail-order gourmet food specialist. Check them out online!

    - Renee (rels09 on WC)

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  25. I grew up in Chicago. Pick your poison: Italian beef, Chicago hotdogs, deep dish....my favorite thing growing up was the Nabisco factory that was just down the road from us. When the wind blew just right you could smell baking Oreo cookies. YUM.

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  26. My town is unique for its strong French-Canadian traditions. It's the only place in RI where the ATMs ask if you want English or French. :) Our culinary traditions include dynamites (mix of ground beef, peppers, and onions with a tomato base in a grinder roll), weiners (hot dogs with meat sauce, onions, celery sauce, and mustard), and marguerites (crackers with maple walnut frosting).

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  27. I was born in a city. The claim to fame I think was the fact that it has a military ocean terminal. Lots of activity there --

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  28. I love Mexican vanilla!!!

    I grew up in Troy, MI, home of Delphi Corporation, one of the world's largest automotive parts manufacturers.

    By far, my favorite thing that is made in Michigan is wine from the Traverse City area. My husband and I love to drink wine and we drink almost exclusively all Michigan wine because it supports the economy and it tastes so darn good!

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  29. I was born in Syracuse, NY but I was raised in Chester, VA. I'm not aware of either town/city being known for anything. How sad!

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  30. My hometown is know for a HUGE porn store. I'm not kidding. I grew up in a teeny tiny town that had NO stop lights or even caution lights. But we were along the interstate. A small truck stop at the exit closed and no one knew who bought it or what they were going to do with it. Next thing we know there's a HUUUUUUGE sign & billboard that says "ADULT BOOKSTORE". Not too long after that on the other side of the interstate, a billboard was put up that says "HELL IS REAL". Yup.... That's my hometown.

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  31. i am not originally from tampa, but what i love best about tampa is how the strawberrie are prime in feb...i used to love having good strawberries in mi, but it wasnt until june when we had them..i love that plant city is so close to me and the strawberries are already coming out..they are my favorite fruit!
    we are also the lightening capital of the world...

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  32. My hometown (and current city of residence) is San Diego. We're right next to Mexico and have the best mexican food out there! Serious... no where else compares :) We have lots of other great foods but I've never had a street taco or enchilada that tastes better than from my hometown.

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  33. I live in Claremore, OK. This is the home town of Will Rogers.
    [email protected]

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  34. I'm originally from Dallas, TX, and I can't think of anything specifically from Dallas, but I love coming from an area known for such good BBQ!

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  35. My hometown is Winnetka, IL---I don't think it is known for anything food-related, but it is known for being the location for many John Hughes movies (including Home Alone--which was filmed down the street from where I grew up).

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  36. my hometown is deptford, nj.

    Deptford was the site of the first hot air balloon landing in North America, gathering that distinction when Jean-Pierre Blanchard completed his flight to Deptford from Philadelphia in 1793. During his flight, Blanchard carried a personal letter from George Washington to be delivered to the owner of whatever property Blanchard happened to land on, making the flight the first delivery of air mail in the United States as well.

    That is about our only claim to fame!

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  37. I grew up in Mount Vernon, WA. It is about an hour north of Seattle. Mt. Vernon is known for the Tulip Festival. It is a month long festival. The fields are gorgeous. The whole valley has all kinds of events the whole month long. Some of the locals affectionately call it "The Traffic Festival", because of all the traffic it brings. We also have several celebrities who call Mt. Vernon home.

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  38. My hometown is quite well known for lots of raucous partying! LAS VEGAS!

    And while we now have many overpriced restaurants to choose from, we aren't know for anything other than gambling.

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  39. My hometown is St. Louis- home to toasted ravioli, Ted Drewes frozen custard, the chocolate long john, the ice cream cone and many others! The 1904 World's Fair brought a lot of creative food people. Some argue that the hotdog was first introduced at the 1904 World's Fair, but there are conflicting reports on that one.

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  40. I grew up in the foothills west of Golden, Colorado, home to the Coors Brewing Company. Some days driving past the complex, the smell of hops would be overpowering. These days I live near Everett, WA, home of Boeing =)

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  41. I'm from Baltimore, Maryland, home of Berger cookies and Rheb's chocolates, and the only state where you can get a good crabcake, great steamed crabs, cream of crab soup, Maryland crab soup, and crab dip!

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  42. I was born and raised in Wheaton, IL -- hometown of Jim Belushi.

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  43. My hometown is Salem, OH...famous for Udder Cream (http://www.udderlysmooth.com/)

    We are also famous for being a hub on the Underground Railroad, American Standard and Eljer's (makers of sinks, toilets and bathtubs)and for hosting the first women's rights convention.

    We also had our fare share of famous residents. Charles E. Burchfield, Alan Freed, Rich Karlis and Edmund R. Sulivan.

    Now I'm homesick! :) I need some really good vanilla to cheer me up.

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  44. I grew up right outside Irondale, AL, which is home to the Whistlestop Cafe that the novel Fried Green Tomatoes is based on.

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  45. The closest bigger town where I live- is known for Old Forge Pizza. It is an awesome pizza!!!

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  46. My home town is Palm Desert, CA. I don't think it's actually famous for anything. We have the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic here but it's part of the whole Coachella Valley. That's about it for us! Golf and VERY hot summers! :)

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  47. What a great question, it's so fun to read everyone's responses.

    I'm from Hibbing, MN which is home to the world's largest open pit mine, the birthplace of the Greyhound Bus line and the town where Bob Dylan grew up.

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  48. My hometown (El Reno, OK) is known for fried onion hamburgers. We even make the world's largest onion burger at the beginning of every May.

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  49. I am from NY and besides the pizza and bagels I also went to the same high school as Edie Falco from the Sopranos! Northport, New York is also the home of Maroni's which was featured on Bobby Flay's Throwdown - Meatballs! I have yet to try them but will eventually when I get back home!

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  50. my hometown...cary, illinois...is not known for much :) but our church there (where i was married) is in the guinness book of world records for most stained glass windows in any building around the world...

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  51. My hometown (Columbus, OH) I would have guessed was best known for it's buckeyes. But after a little research, I found out it is known as a headquarters for chains and our world famous zoo. Who would have guessed that. You learn something new every day.

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  52. Oh Joelen, I was thinking of you tonight as I was ordering from Spice House! My first experience, I can't wait for the goodies to arrive. Anyways, back to the question.
    I grew up in Mt. Dora, Florida we're know for old people…just kidding. Actually, it is a town known for the antique furniture. It’s a small town but it was home and I LOVE it!

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  53. I'll add my Minnesota town to the rest of them! I'm from Lake City, Minnesota, birthplace of waterskiing! Ralph Samuelson first waterskied on Lake Pepin. Laura Ingalls Wilder also lived there.

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  54. I live in San Diego, California also known as America's Finest city- home of the famous San Diego Zoo, Hotel Del Coronado, Wild Animal Park, La Jolla cove, military bases and naval ships, beaches, sunny beautiful warm weather all year round! Since we are near the Mexican border, we enjoy carne asada (burritos and fries!!), and fish tacos! It's one city where you can drive up to the Laguna mountains to see snow, towards Borrego to see the desert and come back to the coast to enjoy the gorgeous beaches!

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  55. My hometown is Austin, Texas... live music capital of the world! Its friendly, has great food, great music and lots to do!

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  56. my hometown is Mission Viejo, CA. one of the streets we lived nearby is named "Olympiad." it was so named b/c the bicycle race in the 1984 Olympics took place on this stretch of road.

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  57. Ah, I love Nielsen-Massey vanilla! I'm from Seattle, land of socially conscious foodies and java junkies! :)

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  58. I live in Pittsburgh so the first thing that comes to mind is Heinz. We are also known for our pierogies, and the Primanti's sandwich.

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  59. I'm from Hampton, VA. Hampton itself isn't know for much...expect maybe tons of military people. But my area is know for peanuts, ham and some seafood. We have the Smithfield Ham Co, which Paula Deen promotes. As for landmarks we have a TON of historic areas...and of course the ocean! Its a nice casual area to live in.

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  60. My actual hometown doesn't have any food to vouch for. However, 15 minutes away, LaPlace is the original maker of andouille. I'm also near New Orleans, so you can imagine the food known there!

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  61. I live in Columbus Ohio. We are the home to many restaurant chains-Wendy's, White Castle, Donatos and Cheryl's Cookies.

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  62. Bloomington, Minnesota is my hometown. It's the home of the Mall of America - an awesome place to shop though mostly filled with foodcourts...

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  63. I'm from Baltimore, MD and we're known for our blue crabs and famous crab cakes. McCormick spices also originated in MD but Camden Yards Stadium (home to the Baltimore Orioles) used to be one of their old spice warehouses and today the new spice warehouse is located right near my house and you can smell all the wonderful spice aromas in the air.

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  64. I'm originally from Berea, OH which is home of the Cleveland Browns practice field. So...ashamed...

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  65. My hometown is the "Bagel Capital of the World", the first Lender's plant was there. And every year we have Bagel Fest where people make up floats around a different theme using bagels, dress up their kids (Beautiful Bagel Baby) and their pets (Bagel Bow Wow, and we have "The World's Largest Bagel Breakfast".

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  66. I am from Maryland. We are known for our blue crabs, steamed with Old Bay!

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  67. I'm from Hamilton, NJ. Our claim to fame is Meghan's Law and being the location of the post office that was infected with anthrax :/ However, Hamilton is also one of the top safest cities in America. Figure that!

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  68. My hometown is only 800 or so people. What's interesting about it, is that there are 3 counties in my town. Across the street from my house is a different county, and 2 blocks north is another one! It can be confusing.

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  69. I live in NJ. Our town is known to have the largest water tower.

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  70. I'm originally from Hamilton, NJ - home of the 2008 Rockefeller Christmas tree!

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  71. I am from chicago... we are known for our deep dish pizza, chicago style hot dogs, and eli's cheesecake to name a few!

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  72. My current hometown is Tulsa, OK. It is the home of Bama Pies, The Tulsa Driller, University of Tulsa, ORU and just down the road is Frankoma Pottery. Oklahoma has a lot of history and a lot of museums and a lot of places to visit.

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  73. What a fun topic!

    My hometown is Eugene, Oregon (how I long for it now; only a couple winters into the Chicago-style winter!). Yogi Tea (http://www.yogitea.com) is headquartered here, as is Nancy's Creamery (http://www.nancysyogurt.com). Market of Choice (http://www.marketofchoice.com), our answer to Whole Foods; other food companies include Mountain Rose Herbs, Surata and Toby's Tofu, Emerald Valley Kitchen, and the company that makes Soy Delicious. And Genesis Juice - the original Odwalla, and light years better!

    We're home to lots and lots of hippies (Ken Kesey is a local hero), the original Saturday Market, the Oregon Bach Festival, University of Oregon and the birthplace of Nike. Now I can't wait to go home! :)

    A final bit of trivia: the John G. Shedd Center for the Performing Arts, operated by the namesake's granddaughter, is named after the same person as the Shedd Aquarium here in Chicago.

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  74. I am from Grand Rapids Michigan.

    Companies of note located near or in GR. Steelcase, Hayworth and Herman Miller. Amway, Hudsonville Dairy (they have great ice cream!) as well as many others.

    Oh, and President Gerald Ford was from East Grand Rapids so the Ford Museum is in GR.

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  75. I am from Auckland, New Zealand (Akarana, Aotearoa is how it is said in Maori).

    Auckland is popularly known as the "City of Sails" because the harbour is often dotted with hundreds of yachts and has more per capita than any other city in the world

    Auckland is BEAUTIFUL!

    Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world, and has seen many people of Asian ethnicity move there in the last two decades.

    The food there, is fabulous, fresh and influenced by many different cultures.

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  76. Even though I live in Phoenix now, I like to claim Oklahoma City as my hometown. I was born there and lived there until I was six, then moved back for a while during college. My dad has always lived there, so it is still very much home to me

    One of my greatest food-related memories of growing up in Oklahoma is going to Sonic to get a cherry limeade and tater tots. Sonic was founded and is still headquartered in Oklahoma. So if you love your cherry limeade like I do, give Oklahoma a great big thanks!

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  77. I love baking with vanilla and always buy a big bottle when vacationing in Mexico!

    Well my hometown, Fox River Grove, IL is tiny and the only claim to fame I can think of is the Norge Ski Jump. They have a ski jump competition in the winter and summer! There is a bigger structure there now than when I was growing up, but when I was 7 the neighborhood boys dared me to climb the steps to the top and I did! I did get caught when one of the caretakers spotted me high above Fox River Grove.....ahhhh, memories!

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  78. I currently live in Houston. Texas in general is known for Tex/Mex and bbq. Houston is known for having lots of yummy restaurants

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  79. I am originally from Maple Valley, WA and one of the few things we re known for is a little hole in the wall restaurant off the river called Testy Chef. Some of the best breakfast you will ever have!

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  80. I'm from Pleasanton, CA which is about 20 minutes east of Oakland, or 40 minutes from San Francisco. It's currently home to Safeway headquarters, and has a beautiful downtown. It's named after a calvarly general for the union in the civil war.

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  81. My town in New Jersey is home to the Thomas Edison Museum and my favorite home-made ice cream shop!

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  82. The town I moved to two months ago is the gateway to the Sequoia's, which holds the largest living thing on Earth, The General Sherman Tree. I read in a local pamhlet that it is the cuisine capital of my area-unfortunately that does not say much. I miss my old home town for this reason.

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