A bill proposed by New Mexico Democratic state senator William Soules would make the aroma of green chiles the official state aroma of New Mexico.
New Mexico has introduced a new bill. And if it passes, New Mexico will become the first state in the nation to have a state aroma. It would join some of the state’s more unusual symbols, like the bolo tie and the air balloon. If you’ve ever been to New Mexico during the fall, without a doubt, you have experienced the unmistakable scent of green chiles roasting in the air. It’s a smell that’s become synonymous with the state and now, it could soon become the official scent of New Mexico. Democratic state senator William Soules has proposed a bill that would make the aroma of green chiles the official state aroma of New Mexico. If it passed, Bill 188 would add to the roster of New Mexico’s state symbols, including the yucca flower, roadrunner, cutthroat trout and New Mexico black bear. It would also join some of the state’s more unusual symbols like the bolo tie (the official state tie) and the air balloon (the official state aircraft). The bill has already passed the state senate’s Health and Public Affairs Committee and the Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee. Now, the next step is a vote with the full state Senate, According to Senator William Soules’ tweet.
#nmleg SB 188 to make the smell of chile roasting as the official aroma of NM is featured on NPR Weekend Edition with Scott Simon at about 8:45 this Saturday morning. SB 188 has passed NM Senate committees and is headed to the full Senate for a vote. pic.twitter.com/hQlLWeBOFo— William Soules (@SenatorSoules) February 11, 2023
The fiscal impact report on the proposed symbol addition noted that it “may have a positive, though difficult to calculate, impact on tourism to the state.” It is due to New Mexico’s peak tourist season typically overlapping with the peak of green chile season in the state. It could also draw visitors away from Colorado, which, according to the report, “for some reason, thinks it has green chile comparable to that of New Mexico.”
But there was a technical issue noted in the report. The bill’s specificity would leave out red chiles and chiles roasted in the summer, which could lead to contention in the debate of “Red or Green?” Chiles have been grown in New Mexico for at least 400 years, starting when conquistador Don Juan de Oñate brought crops from Mexico to the area now known as New Mexico. In 2021, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture estimated that the state’s chile production was worth $44.9 million with a total of 51,000 tons of chile produced.
If it passed, New Mexico would be the first state in the nation to have a state aroma. The official designation of the state aroma of green chiles would help recognize the deep cultural and economic significance of chiles in New Mexico as well as their significant role in drawing tourists to the state. If the bill passes, we may soon be able to smell New Mexico’s official aroma wherever we go.