The Origin and Meaning of the Kansas Nicknames
The American citizens who live in, or who come from Kansas, are referred to as Kansans. The history, origin and meaning of each of the state's nicknames are as follows:
The Sunflower State
The official nickname Sunflower refers to the high yield of sunflowers produced in the region. The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas and is used in Sunflower oil, for cattle feed and its stems contain a fibre which is used in paper production. Sunflower seeds are also enjoyed as a healthy, tasty snack and a nutritious ingredient to many other foods.
The reference to Bleeding Kansas is also echoed in another nickname "The Battleground of Freedom". These are harsh reminders of its bloody history in the American Civil War when the territory became a battleground for pro-slavery and anti-slavery activists.
The Cyclone State
Kansas is subject to the natural weather phenomena referred to as cyclones, tornados or twisters. Cyclones are characterized by inward violently spiraling winds that are in contact with the ground.
The Wheat State
The Wheat State is another high yielding cash crop grown in Kansas. Wheat is a cereal grain used in products such as cereals, cakes, bread and cookies. Wheat is also utilized in these other products such as wood, paper, adhesives, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
The Jayhawk State
The Jayhawk name alludes to the Jayhawkers, a term that came to prominence just before the American Civil War where it was used as the name of by militant bands of guerrilla fighters affiliated with the free-state cause. The "Jayhawkers" clashed with pro-slavery groups from Missouri called the "Border Ruffians". Bands of Jayhawkers crossed the border to steal back slaves for their freedom. Following the American Civil War, the word "Jayhawk" became synonymous with the people of Kansas.
Salt of the Earth
The phrase 'the salt of the earth' derives from the Bible, Matthew 5:13. in reference to very good or worthy people. Salt lies underneath many parts of Kansas and the salt mines and industry dates back to the late 1800's.