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Meet the PawPaw - Ohio's official native fruit

Mike Polk Jr. taste tests the unusual and unknown tropical-tasting delicacy

OHIO, USA — I regret to inform you that Ohio’s state bird is still the Cardinal. This is despite the fact that I have been writing a letter to the Governor every week for the past two years requesting that it be changed to the White-breasted Nuthatch.

I honestly have nothing personal against Cardinals and believe them to be an adequate and serviceable bird, I've just always considered Nuthatches to be a far superior bird and that's why I'm such an advocate.

There has been no response from the Governor's office thus far, which might naturally discourage some in my position, but I have elected to REDOUBLE MY EFFORTS by calling the office directly. But until my entreaties are answered the lowly Northern Cardinal (more like BORE-thern Cardinal if you ask me! #BirdBurnz) remains the representative bird of The Buckeye State.

And say while we’re on the subject, The Buckeye just happens to be the official state tree of Ohio. The OHIO Buckeye tree, to be specific, not to be confused with any of those cut-rate, lesser Buckeye varieties like the Painted Buckeye (lame) or, perish the thought, The Bottlebrush Buckeye (complete trash).

Now, some might consider the Buckeye Tree to be an odd official arboreal symbol considering how monstrously poisonous it is. In fact every part of the plant, from the leaves to the bark to the fruit that falls from the branches, is highly toxic.

Symptoms that can occur when someone has ingested a buckeye byproduct include: Nausea, Muscle Weakness, Dilated Pupils, Vomiting, Paralysis and in some cases even death.

However, I personally think choosing a dangerous, poisonous tree makes Ohio seem pretty cool and gives us some much needed edge. It also provides us with street-cred amongst our neighboring states.

Just think how intimidating our choice of the Buckeye must have been to Indiana whose state tree is, no joke, “The Tulip Tree”. LOL!

I guess they know who’s in charge around here.

Okay, where was I going with this?

Oh right! PawPaws! That’s what the story was about.

Focus up, Polk! Let's bring her in for a landing!

As it turns out, Ohio has an official indigenous state fruit called the PawPaw, which looks like a green potato feels like a peach and tastes like 6 different fruits at the same time. But it apparently only tastes good if you eat it within a very specific and fleeting time period within it’s maturation process.

So, it’s a pretty fussy fruit. It’s weird but I dig it for that uniqueness.

And as with our State's choice to align ourselves with the merciless Death Tree, it makes us seem more interesting when compared to our more pedestrian bordering neighbors.

I mean sure, PawPaws are weird and they’re certainly not for everyone but at least they’re a good conversation starter. That's more than can be said for West Virginia who really mixed it up thought outside the box by selecting The Apple as their state fruit.

Whoa! The Apple! Slow down West Virginia, you're off the chain right now! Way to put yourselves out there you rustic daredevils. What’s your state beverage, Water?

Okay, that’s enough of busting West Virginia’s beans.

So anyways I tried a PawPaw and it was fine. I’m not dying for another one or anything but I’m glad to have had the experience and if you’d like to try one as well, you should. Because life’s too short to have not sampled one’s own official indigenous state fruit.

I do not know all of the locations that PawPaws are available but I DO KNOW that Gwen Rosenberg, the small business owner featured in this story who was kind enough to educate me about PawPaws, has them available at BOTH her Kent and Ravenna “Popped!” locations. She also has sea salt caramel corn that tastes like high-ranking angels made it. I'm talking Seraphim-level sea salt caramel corn. Check it out.