The Ten Greatest Gifts Florida Has Given the World

Florida sometimes gets treated like the dong of America. The rest of the country is constantly laughing at us, but do you all not realize how much we have given you? You start your day by drinking our orange juice and then dare to poke fun at us during the rest of it. Perhaps you don't realize what we've done for you.

1. Key Lime Pie

This is the pie that lemon meringue wishes it could be. Actually, this is the pie all pies wish they could be.

2. Your Favorite Crime and Thriller Novels

Sure two Pulitzer Prize-winning novels were set in Florida (The Yearling and Rabbit at Rest), and the Sunshine State is also responsible for classics such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, Swamplandia, and whatever Hemingway wrote in Key West, but Florida's key contribution to your library is your favorite crime novels and thrillers. From John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels to Elmore Leonard's Florida work to Carl Hiaasen and Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series. We offer you the beaches to enjoy and the perfect page-turners to read while you're there.

3. Permanent European Settlement in America

While we respectfully note that not all people would consider European settlement of America all that great, it did happen here in Florida first. Sure, there were a few attempts previously, but they didn't last. We like to think it wasn't until Europeans found Florida (St. Augustine, specifically) that they decided, "Hey, you know what? This continent isn't such a bad place to live."

4. Sunscreen

The thing about white people living in Florida, though, is that they often get burned if they're out in the sun too long. So it's no surprise that the first sunscreen was invented in Florida. Yes, back in 1944, Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first sunscreen. Originally known as "Red Vet Pet," the formula was bought and marketed as Coppertone. It wasn't exactly an effective sunscreen, but at least Florida got the ball moving on that front.

5. Publix

Publix is quickly expanding throughout the South and will one day, mark our words, take over America with its sprawling supermarkets, but we Floridians would rather just keep Publix to ourselves. Seriously, Floridians' affinity for Publix is almost crazy. Do any other people love a supermarket as much as Floridians love Publix? I mean, it's honestly crazy that for presidential campaigns, candidates don't set themselves up to be photographed shopping at Publix and mention those chicken tender subs during campaign stops. That is how much we love Publix. And one day the rest of America will love Publix just as much. But it was ours first.

By the way, call us when the rest of you can come up with a sub sandwich that even touches Publix's in greatness.

6. Gatorade

The University of Florida has given the world two things that have been digested and then quickly popularized by the NFL: Gatorade and Tim Tebow. (Interestingly, Florida State University fans will tell you the Seminoles actually invented a Gatorade-like drink first.)

7. Miami Bass, AKA Booty Bass

Long before Miley Cyrus was shaking her pancake ass to the horror of half of America, Miami (with some assistance from Orlando) perfected music that was meant to shake one's ass to. And 2 Live Crew and its contemporaries are still played at roller discos across the nation.

8. Commercialized Orange Juice

Freshly squeezed orange juice is a bit of volatile product. It spoils quickly, and it's difficult to produce a uniform taste. In 1948, frozen concentrate orange juice was invented at the University of Florida. Most Americans bought such frozen juice at the supermarket until the 1960s, when Florida citrus farmers perfected the not-from-concentrate bottled juice most of us buy in stores today.

9. Your Team's Star Football Player

Last season, just less than 10 percent of NFL players were from Florida, and between 2008 and 2013, 13.7 percent of all college football players came from Florida. And that's not even counting the number of players who were born elsewhere but played high school or college football in Florida.

10. Endless Stories of WTF-ness

Are you not entertained?

But do you ever wonder why it's so easy for journalists here to find so many stories of batshit insanity to write about? It's because Florida is a trailblazer in open records and open government. Our public record laws predate the federal government's Freedom of Information Act by about five and half decades, and Florida's open government laws remain some of the most progressive this side of the Atlantic.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >