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OPINION: 12 things we Virginians love

OPINION: 12 things we Virginians love

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“How do I love thee?,” wrote the 19th-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “Let me count the ways.”

All right then. Let’s start counting. Sunday, Valentine’s Day, was the day we set aside for love. Not all love, though, requires chocolate, flowers and valentines. Some involve grilled cheese, broccoli and game shows (although not necessarily at the same time). We’ll explain.

What do we in Virginia love more than anything else? Big Data is here to answer that question. You may have hated math in school, but math loves you.

1. Our favorite fast food: McDonald’s. The market research firm Top Data compiles this info. This puts Virginia in tune with North Carolina — but also Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Dakota, Nevada and California. Draw your own conclusions. If you’re curious about some of our neighbors: In West Virginia, it’s Wendy’s. In Maryland, it’s Chick-fil-A. In Kentucky and Tennessee, it’s Sonic.

2. Our favorite pizza: Papa John’s. Once again, we’re indebted to Top Data for telling us what some of you apparently already know. Here, we are one with West Virginia but at odds with our other neighboring states, where Little Caesars rules.

3. Our favorite vegetable: Broccoli. We’re not making that up. We wish we were. But that’s what the Green Giant company tells us. Every year, the food company surveys consumers — last year 6,713 of them. It found that in 36 states (plus the District of Columbia) the favorite vegetable is broccoli. On the other hand, every survey has a margin of error of plus or minus, oh, 36 states and one federal district, maybe? If for some reason you think this finding is accurate — hey, it’s a free country. Show the courage of your convictions! Give your sweetheart some chocolate-covered broccoli. Let us know how that goes, OK?

4. Our favorite junk food: Oreos. After that answer, we really need to cleanse our palate. Fortunately, the good people at Zippia have us covered. That’s a career counseling website that crunched some Google data to figure out our favorite snack food (that’s the job we want, but we digress). We have an Oreo fixation in common with Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii. And then there is Colorado, where the top snack food is Cosmic Brownies. Oh, Colorado …

5. Our favorite TV show: “Friends.” Yes, this show has been off the air for nearly 17 years — which was longer than its 10-year run. But says it’s still the show people have been watching most during the past year as they turn to streaming old favorites. It’s the top show in a strange mix of states — North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas in the South, New York and Massachusetts in the Northeast and California out on the left coast. We like to analyze political trends, but we can’t discern any here; this is a mix of red states and blue states. Perhaps the nation isn’t as polarized as we thought? On the other hand, the top show in Delaware has been “Game of Thrones.” In Montana, it’s “The Vampire Diaries.” And in Oregon and Washington, “Star Trek.”

6. Our favorite daytime TV show: “Jeopardy!” Unlike that broccoli answer, this one makes sense. This is an answer we can be proud of. Unlike, say, Alabama, where the answer is “Paternity Court,” or Louisiana, where it’s “The Young and the Restless.” This data comes from DirecTV. Virginia’s affinity for “Jeopardy!” isn’t unique, though. The show is also on top in Maine, Vermont and South Carolina.

7. Our favorite music: Country. Maybe. This depends on how you measure things. measures popularity by live performances — well, back when there were such things as live performances. That measure puts country music as our favorite genre, and as the home state of the award-winning country band Old Dominion, we sure aren’t going to argue. But there are some other ways to measure things that will produce different results. A few years ago, the streaming service Pandora said the Canadian rapper Drake was the most listened-to artist in Virginia, at least among Pandora users.

8. Our favorite comfort food: Grilled cheese. This redeems us for that broccoli answer. Zippia crunched some Google data to determine “the most interesting thing each state is quarantine-googling.” This data is based on what each state is searching for way out of proportion to other states. This is actually a pretty insightful list. California: “Cool Zoom backgrounds.” Missouri: “Meth recipe.” New Mexico: “Day drinking.” Kentucky: “Vaping pen.” Utah: “Dr. Pepper shortage.” Pennsylvania: “Why are my plants dying?” Florida: “How to sleep at work.” Here in Virginia, we aren’t cooking up meth or killing our plants or sleeping at work (and, if we are, we don’t need to look up advice on how to do so). But we apparently do love grilled cheese (even if we do have to resort to the internet for how to make it).

9. Our favorite Netflix show: “The Umbrella Academy.” No silly surveys that yield the answer “broccoli” here. This is based on actual data, compiled by We have this show in common with North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and, well, 15 states in all. California’s into “Black Mirror,” Utah and Idaho are all about “Stranger Things.” When someone invites you over for some, umm, Netflix and chill — well, we can’t speak as to what kind of “chill” might be in store, but this is probably what will be on Netflix.

10. Our favorite romantic comedy: “He’s Just Not That Into You.” says Virginia is the only state where this is the top — so, at least, something unique.

11. Our favorite way to eat an egg: Fried. Thank you, website Eat This. We’re pretty normal on this one. The real outliers are West Virginia and North Carolina, the only states where scrambled eggs are preferred.

12. Our favorite thing to Google on Valentine’s Day: Poetry. Aww, how sweet. This is another product of Google Trends. Perhaps Virginia really is for lovers. After all, the same data tells is that, in 20 states (including West Virginia and North Carolina), the top Valentine’s Day search term last year was the phrase “break up.” And then there was South Dakota and Alaska where the top search term was “Tinder.” Hey, at least it wasn’t broccoli.

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