The United States has had a long-term crush on ancient Egypt in more ways than one. Did you know that the lower 15 or so counties of Illinois refer to themselves collectively as Egypt? For brevity’s sake I will let you read why on Wikipedia. In this post I am going to focus on one point of this history, the name itself. Many sources stress not to call the region “Little Egypt”, since this name was used by an exotic dancer at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (and yet another dancer at the 1933 World’s Fair). This postcard, c.1940, promotes the preferred name of Egypt.
However, this Wolf’s cola bottle from around the same time uses the taboo phrase of Little Egypt. Surely they ought to have known better, being located in Harrisburg, which they even mark on the map of Illinois that is used as a logo. Perhaps this disparity mirrored class distinctions – the tea and crumpets set addressed their letters with the grand and sombre ‘Egypt’, while the beer and pork rinds gang embraced the hoochy-koo implications of Little Egypt? We may never know for sure.