As you may have heard, U.S. News and World Report lost their minds and named Iowa the best state in the union — with Minnesota No. 2.

Iowa? The state that looks, on a map, like it’s Minnesota’s commode? Not that we would say such things out loud, but look at our neighborhood. Wisconsin leans into us like a drunk who won’t shut up about the Packers. North and South Dakota stand there like twins with nothing much to say, and Canada is the roof covered with snow. Iowa is what Minnesota would be if it fell into a trash compactor.

I jest. Iowa is wonderful, and they should be proud that they’re getting recognition for something other than Buddy Holly’s plane crash. We should be happy for them: “It’s wonderful that you got the U.S. News award. I didn’t even know they were still publishing.”

The ranking aside, the real question is: Do Iowans smell better than us? A company called Homesick has developed candles for each state: Light it, and the signature aroma of your geopolitical entity unfurls.

And how do they describe the smell of Iowa? Notes of corn and herbicide, base note of hog runoff ... A hint of water vapor from the contrails left by all the planes flying over and not stopping.

I jest. The website says: “Nutty praline, cream, buttery accents and a touch of bourbon.” It continues: “A fragrance that recalls state fairs.”

Not to uptalk like a millennial, but the state fair is our thing. And we do it so well that you don’t need bourbon to get through it.

The Iowa aroma supposedly also contains “complex undertones of cedar wood and white musk.” The wood’s nice, but if you’ve ever been in a college bar on a Saturday night, “white musk” means something else.

What do they say about Minnesota’s candle? They might have said: “Bait bucket, pine tree, wood smoke, fishy lake, smell of a freshly printed Guthrie brochure, hint of corn dog batter.” But no. They went with: “Baked apples, puff pastry, fresh cypress and spicy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of fragrant clove.”

We’re fine with everything but the cypress trees, which we do not have. They might as well have made a candle that smelled like grape salad.

That said, our candle undoubtedly is better than Iowa’s candle.

When U.S. News does the list next year, some other weird state will be picked for No. 1, and Iowa will be crestfallen: ”What did we do wrong?” Nothing. You just spent the year being Iowa, and that’s OK. Now you hate the states that outranked you. Sit down, dry your eyes. We can help you with that.

 

james.lileks@startribune.com