How Boston got the Beantown nickname

Do you have a better nickname for our city? | Photo by @sim_ple1913wn

Do you have a better nickname for our city? | Photo by @sim_ple1913wn

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If you’ve bean around Boston for a while, you might be familiar with Boston’s best-known nickname. That’s right, today we’re talking all things Beantown.

Where did the nickname come from?

You may have guessed this one already: beans. Baked beans are a pretty big part of Boston’s history, though they weren’t always the beans we know today.

Baked beans became popular with 17th century Puritans, who could cook them on Saturdays and eat them on Sundays to avoid working on the Sabbath. Molasses, the ingredient that sets Boston baked beans apart from other legumes, are thought to have entered the local recipe in the mid-18th century as part of the triangular trade.

Fast forward to the 1880s, and Boston became home to a baseball team called the Beaneaters, eventually renamed to the Braves.

In the 1990s, the slogan “You Don’t Know Beans Until You Come to Boston” was used to draw tourists into the city and found its way onto postcards.

Do people actually call Boston Beantown?

Depends who you ask. The nickname ranked as the fifth most annoying city nickname in 2020, leading us to believe the nickname doesn’t bean much to most locals. City Editor Sara thinks Beantown would suit Chicago (home of The Bean) much better, but that’s one Bostonian’s opinion.

Does Boston have any other nicknames?

A few, actually. The Hub, The Athens of America + The City on a Hill are some of the other nicknames for Boston, though we’re willing to bet you mainly just call it Boston.

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