Lonely Planet Writer

Flying the flag for the little guys: quirky capitals of the world

One of the best quirks of a road trip is rolling into town and being greeted by a jaunty sign proclaiming that you are now entering 'The Mousetrap Capital of the World!'

While there are cities or regions whose claims to fame are unsurprising - Las Vegas for weddings, Kentucky for Bourbon, Austin for live music and Grasse in France for perfume - some places seem to pride themselves on their off-beat world-beating points of difference.

Hoi An is known as the Tailoring Capital of the World. And Poland is known for its captivating amber, so it's only fair that Gdansk should take the Amber Capital crown. But did you also know that the Philippines is regarded as the world's Text Messaging Capital? Or that Manitoba is proudly protecting its title of Slurpee Capital of the World?

But the US, it seems, has really cornered the market on wacky capitals. Avon, Ohio claims to be the Duct Tape Capital of the World while Fort Payne, Alabama flies the flag for the Sock Capital of the World and Alaska is the Hanging Basket Capital of the World. (And admit it, once your ears have pricked up to such accolades, it would be hard to leave the town without a couple of rolls of tape, a wicker basket and a nifty pair of knee-high socks though, wouldn’t it? Now that’s marketing.) High Point, North Carolina claims to be the somewhat vague Furniture Capital of the World (would they take Blaine, MO to task over them being the Stool Capital?) while Tampa Bay is the Cigar Capital of the World (and Florida handily takes the electrifying mantle of the Lightning Capital of the US if you're looking to light up a signature cigar).

Green Bay, Wisconsin is known as the Toilet Paper Capital of the World (this is the town to thank for producing the first splinter-free toilet paper. Toilet paper with splinters? Youch.) Speaking of Wisconsin, maybe it can be called the Quirky Capital Capital of the World with its towns variously laying claim to being the World Capital of: Ginseng (Wausau); Trolls (Mt Horeb); Jump Rope (Bloomer); Inner Tubing (Somerset); Swiss Cheese (Monroe) and Bratwurst (Sheboygan).

But how are they proclaimed? Who is presiding over these ceremonies, declaring 'I pronounce Confusion Falls as the Carpet Deodoriser Capital – of the world!' Does anyone check first? Are there drunken stoushes in airport lounges as businessmen poke each other in the chest and say 'no, my town is the Shrimp Paste Capital of the World.' 'No, mine is!' Where’s the proof? Who’s checking up on this? And how much of one thing do you need to actually become a capital?

So where are you from? What's your town's claim to fame? Share your bumper stickers with us!

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