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New Mexico to become first US state to have an official aroma

A new bill has been submitted to add a signature smell to New Mexico’s state symbols. If it goes ahead it may set a precedent for other states to follow suit.

A number of items from the natural world are officially associated with the state of New Mexico; among them the yucca flower, the cutthroat trout and the New Mexico black bear. Now, Democratic senator William Soules has lodged a bill to have a specific aroma underlined as belonging to the US state.

If the request is approved then it will be a coup for New Mexico, not just in terms of being the first US state to claim an olfactory experience for its own, but for the protection it will give the food item that offers the scent.

The smell of green chilies roasting is the aroma that New Mexicans believe should be theirs alone. And with peak tourist time for the state coinciding with green chile season, the bill could prove to be a savvy commercial move as well as a sentimental one.

“The new state aroma could help draw visitors away from Colorado, which, for some reason, thinks it has green chile comparable to that of New Mexico,” stated a fiscal impact report on the viability of the proposal.

Importantly, however, the state’s claim to the smell would only apply to green chilies roasted during the autumn, not in the spring, summer or winter, when presumably the scent is fair game for anyone.

The bill has already made it through New Mexico state senate’s Health and Public Affairs Committee and the Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee. The next step is a vote with the full state Senate, according to a tweet from Soules.

Chilies have been grown in the US state, which lies between Texas and Arizona, for more than 400 years, with conquistador Don Juan de Oñate having brought crops with him when he arrived in what would become the United States from Mexico.

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