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Oklahoma is the cheapest, most aspirational state to eat fast food in the country…

4:09 PM EDT on August 1, 2013

josh cockroft

I'm pretty sure that I bring this up every month, but if you were to make a list of the "Top 10 States or Cities Most Likely to Make a Stupid Link Baiting Internet List," Oklahoma and our state capitol would rank near the top. It's a good and bad problem to have. We usually appear on the good lists (Best Places to Start a Business, Best Cities With Phallic Architecture, Top 10 States for Weathermen), but also make the bad ones (Worst Places for Minorities to Live, Best Locales for Anti-Art Politicians with Batman Fetishes, Worst States to Responsibly Enjoy Cannabis in the Privacy of Your Home, etc).

Of course, we recently made some new lists. Instead of writing about them separately, I thought I'd group them into one monthly post...

According to The Daily Beast, Oklahoma City is the 4th most aspirational city in the U.S. Yeah, I don't really know what that means either. Here's their explanation:

Call them aspirational cities, or magnets of opportunity, but the urban areas attracting today’s ambitious citizens are most likely Southern, culturally vibrant, modest sized, long on jobs, and short on traffic...

The great rule of aspirational cities is that they change over time, becoming sometimes less entrepreneurial, more expensive, and demographically stagnant. In the meantime, other cities, often once obscure, suddenly become the new magnets of opportunity.

To determine America’s current aspirational hotspots, we focused in large part on economic indicators, such as employment growth, per capita income, and unemployment. But we also took into account demographic factors, such as the growth of domestic migration and the movement of college-educated people and the foreign born.

Finally, we considered quality-of-life factors such as traffic congestion, housing affordability, and crowding—which are keenly relevant to young families hunting for the places with the best “inventory of the possible.” In a sense, we believe aspirational cities reflect a kind of urban arbitrage, where people look for those places that provide not just economic and cultural opportunity but a cost structure that allows them to enjoy their success to the fullest extent.

That's neat. I wonder what cities ranked ahead of us:

1. Austin
2. New Orleans
3. Houston

Hmmn, maybe the Daily Beast should have kept this list experiment thing to themselves. When I think of "modest sized" cities that are "short on traffic," Houston isn't exactly the first place that comes to mind. At last check, it's the 5th largest metropolitan area in the US and a place where the traffic moves so fast you'd think everyone drives a tortoise.

That being said, I'll still take the aspirational designation. Sure, it kind of makes it sound like we all hang out at the Mule drinking craft beers while taking notes in fancy moleskin notebooks, but I'd rather be known for that than my fast food intake.

From Yahoo! Finance:

The amount of fast food that restaurant-goers eat tends to vary from consumer to consumer, but new data reveal state-by-state trends showing similarities in fast food spending habits in pockets across the country.

Fast food eaters who spend the most on average on their quick-service outings are in middle America, according to the Intuit Consumer Spending Index, which draws on credit and debit card data from Intuit's consumer budgeting tool, Mint.com.

Residents of Oklahoma spent the most per month on fast food compared with all other states, Intuit found. Oklahomans shelled out more than $101 per month on average in May, according to Intuit's data, which includes more than 2 million Mint.com users who opt into sharing their demographic information. Residents of Arkansas spent close to $84 a month on fast food and Kansas residents spent close to $83 per month on fast food in May.

I'm guilty of contributing to this. I'm pretty sure I single-handedly keep the Jersey Mike's on NW 36th and May in business. Its staff is at the point where they ask customers if they'd like their sandwich made "Pat's Way." I eat at Chik-fil-A so often that I occasionally end phone conversations with "My Pleasure." The people at Braum's know me as the "Hey, lets screw up that guys order" guy.

I have a pretty good excuse. I live by myself and don't have any kids. It's not very efficient to cook for one person three times per day. Sure, I may have more sodium in my body than the Morton Salt girl, but I save time, food and money by eating out.

Of course, saving money doesn't matter all that much, because according to this CNBC slide show, Oklahoma is the cheapest state to live in the nation:

No. 1: Oklahoma

Average home price (Ponca City metro): $265,154
Half gallon of milk: $2.33
T-bone steak: $10.22
Monthly energy bill: $149.78
Doctor visit: $78.33
2013 Cost of Living rank: Cheapest
2013 Cost of Living score: 50 (out of 50)
2012 Cost of Living rank: Cheapest

Did they really just cite home prices in the "Ponca City metro?" Ponca City is barely even a city, much less a metropolitan area. They even list the average home price as $265,154! Where did they find that number? According to Zillow, the average home price in Ponca City is $74,000; not $265,000. Did they get our northern Oklahoma hamlet confused with Ponca City, New Jersey? Does the Ponca City metro solely consist of the Marland Mansion and Phillips family homes or something?

Also, I like how they use the cost of a T-bone steak as a relative metric, because who doesn't eat a freshly cut T-bone each day. I don't know, maybe they could have used something a bit more relative like gas prices, higher-education costs or tribal casino rewards card.

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Anyway, that's it for this month's installment of "where we rank." Yeah, that's what I think I'm going to call this monthly column from here on out.

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