If you drive through the small town of Sussex in Wisconsin, you may notice a tall water tower with a curious message painted on it: “Sussex: Home of the Hambuger.” Yes, you read it right: “Hambuger” instead of “Hamburger.” While this may seem like a harmless typo or a clever pun, it actually reveals some interesting insights about language, culture, and communication. In this article, we’ll explore the story behind the Wisconsin water tower typo, its impact on the local community and the wider world, and the lessons we can learn from it.
The Origin of the Typo
The Sussex water tower typo dates back to 1976, when the village hired a contractor to paint the tower with its name and a slogan. The contractor, a Chicago-based company called T.E. Davis, apparently made a mistake while copying the design from a blueprint. Instead of spelling “Hamburger” correctly, they added an extra letter “u” and turned it into “Hambuger.” It’s unclear whether the mistake was intentional, accidental, or a result of poor proofreading, but it quickly became a source of amusement for the locals and the media.
The Impact of the Typo
The Wisconsin water tower typo became a sensation in the 1980s and 1990s, when it started to appear in books, calendars, postcards, and even TV shows. The typo also inspired a cottage industry of merchandise, such as T-shirts, mugs, magnets, and hats, that featured the misspelling as a quirky souvenir. Some people even claimed that the typo boosted the town’s tourism and business, as more people wanted to see the tower and explore the town. However, others argued that the typo was an embarrassment and a sign of incompetence, and that it should be corrected as soon as possible.
The Resolution of the Typo
After decades of debate and controversy, the Sussex water tower typo was finally corrected in 2018, when the village board voted to repaint the tower with the correct spelling. The cost of the repainting was estimated at $600,000, which some critics argued was a waste of money for a trivial matter. However, the supporters of the correction argued that it was a matter of pride, accuracy, and respect for the English language, and that it would prevent future generations from making the same mistake. The repainting also gave the village an opportunity to update the design and the colors of the tower, which now features a more modern and vibrant look.
The Lessons of the Typo
The Wisconsin water tower typo may seem like a funny and harmless mistake, but it actually raises some important questions about language, culture, and communication. For example, it shows that even professional writers, editors, and proofreaders can make mistakes, especially when they rely on templates, blueprints, or technology. It also shows that language is not only a means of conveying information, but also a source of identity, humor, and creativity. The typo turned Sussex into a memorable and distinctive place, and it inspired people to play with words, images, and ideas.
However, the typo also shows that language can be a double-edged sword, as it can both unite and divide people. Some people found the typo amusing and endearing, while others found it annoying and embarrassing. Some people used it as a way to promote the town and its attractions, while others used it as a way to mock the town and its residents. The typo also shows that language can be a sensitive issue for some people, especially when it comes to spelling, grammar, and pronunciation. What may seem like a harmless mistake to some may be a source