Back When “The Biggest Little State In The Union” Couldn’t Get No Respect

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“Warmer & Cooler” wasn’t the first Rhode Island PR effort to get national criticism.

Way back when we were in elementary school, our babysitter had to explain how Rhode Island could be “The Biggest Little State In The Union”. We never knew that ABC News decided to poke fun the state’s campaign to give Rhode Islanders a little pride in the early ’80s.



We did, however, remember Don Bousquet taking aim at the campaign with this famous cartoon from 1982.

delaware rhode island biggest little state

At least Don Bousquet, being a Rhode Islander, realized the origin of the title. The ABC report makes it clear that no one at the news network had no idea why The State Of Rhode Island And Providence Plantations had anything bigger than the other 49 states (hint: Name).

One aspect of the whole campaign we don’t quite get is why we would try to market Rhode Island almost exclusively to Rhode Islanders. The commercial was only shown on TV stations that covered Rhode Island, so the only tourist dollars it might generate would be from those people in Connecticut or Massachusetts who live right next door and would probably spend some dollars in RI regardless.

Oh well, it does bring back some nostalgia for those of us who were in Rhode Island 35 years ago. So much so that Benny’s decided to bring back the song for a recent commercial of their own…

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Biggest Little Correspondent


Tristan’s just this guy, ya know?