What is Maine’s greatest gift to the world?

That’s the question being asked as part of the American Innovation $1 Coin Program, announced last week by the Office of the State Treasurer.

Beginning in 2019 and running through 2032, the U.S. Mint is issuing $1 coins for each state and territory, as well as Washington, D.C. Each will feature a “state-specific innovation and/or innovator in the field of science, its impact and connection to the state.” Maine’s will come in 2024.

New Jersey, home of Thomas Edison, has picked the light bulb, Maine Treasurer Henry Beck said in a press release, while Louisiana has chosen jazz.

So who or what should grace Maine’s coin? Let’s try to narrow it down.

At least one person on social media suggested Stephen King, who no doubt is a state treasure. But “Pet Sematary” probably doesn’t count as science.

Another suggested Hiram Maxim, the Sangerville native who invented the machine gun — certainly an innovation, but one that caused far too much damage to represent our state.

Some inventions that scream “Maine” didn’t actually get their start here. Lobster rolls, born in Connecticut, were only perfected on the Maine coast. Allen’s Coffee Brandy, like so many other Maine imports, comes from Massachusetts.

Sometimes, an innovator was born in Maine, but their “Aha moment” came elsewhere. Helen Blanchard, a Portland native who invented, among many other things, the zig-zag stitch sewing machine. Percy Spencer, born in Howland in Penobscot County, created the microwave oven while at Raytheon in Cambridge, Mass.

But many also did the work here in Maine. That’s where Leon Leonwood Bean put rubber soles with leather uppers and changed outdoor footwear forever — then decades later, defined hipster fashion.

Alvin Lombard built the steam-powered log hauler in 1901. O.C. Johnson of Waterville created the first snowmobile eight years later.

A couple of teenagers left their mark, too. Of course, Chester Greenwood, a 15-year-old in Farmington, used farm wire and fur to make the first pair of earmuffs in 1873, a feat celebrated every year in his hometown.

In 1847, 16-year-old Hanson Crockett Gregory of Glen Cove cut the hole out of a ball of dough before it was fried, putting the hole in the doughnut.

And innovation happens here every day still. Just look at the groundbreaking wood products coming out of the University of Maine, or the unmanned vehicles at Howe and Howe Technologies in Waterboro.

What other Maine innovations should be considered for $1 coin? The Stanley Steamer? The sealed diving suit? Beanhole beans?

Get creative, and send your ideas to the state treasurer’s office.

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