Yesterday was the 120th anniversary of North and South Dakota's entrances into the Union. I know this because my mom sent me an email to that effect. I have always had an affinity for these two venerable Midwestern states, but I've shamefully never taken the opportunity to rank them in terms of their excellence.
2. North Dakota
Is North Dakota the worst Dakota? No. Definitely not. It is the second-best Dakota, and a close, close second it is. North Dakota has many wonderful attributes... for instance, it's home to a huge number (percentage-wise, at least) of Vikings fans. It also has Fargo, without which, there would be no Fargo. Its state slogan is "Legendary", which means it must be Barney Stinson's favorite state ever. Sacagawea was from North Dakota, as are Lawrence Welk and Chuck Klosterman. (...Who, at the very least, are very fun to make fun of. Did you ever hear about the Chuck Klosterman Soundalike Contest? Oh man, that was a fun joke that Rob and I invented once. It all started when Rob said that "The Thong Song" lacked the ironic posturing of "Baby Got Back" and thus, should be heralded as the true 90s ode to the posterior. Anyway.) Also, the Red River Valley is there, as in that song I like, "Red River Valley". And their state beverage is MILK!!! North Dakota, you're doing JUST fine.
1. South Dakota
But South Dakota has to be my number one. When I was 7, my parents asked where I wanted to go on our summer vacation. Naturally, I chose South Dakota, mainly because its state capital was Pierre, which is like, the French version of my name or whatever. What followed was a mad-cap half-cross-country adventure that involved a lot of iterations of the license plate game, a brief stop in Minnesota to watch the Twins play the A's, a terrifying encounter with a prairie rattlesnake, camping in the Black Hills, playing Teddy Roosevelt in a weird, spontaneous-presidential-passion-play at Mt. Rushmore, hanging out with some German tourists, refusing to walk with my parents through a buffalo herd, and, best of all, visiting the Corn Palace in Custer, South Dakota. Yeah. It was epic.
Anyway, aside from all that, Deadwood happened there, Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres was born there, as was Tom Brokaw, um, what else... oh, their state beverage is ALSO milk, and to top it all off, the state fossil is the Triceratops (WHAT!? You can have a state fossil!?!). Suffice to say, South Dakota is pretty much the best Dakota ever.