Can You See Yourself in a Peoria Tie or Feeding Fido Out of a Peoria Dog Bowl?

Peoria's new merchandise page has everything a resident of the city could want.
Peoria's new merchandise page has everything a resident of the city could want.
Does Fido need a dish to show his love for Peoria? Are your favorite colors found on the Independence Day palette? Running low on ties?

You’re in luck.

Peoria is in the middle of an all-out merchandizing blitz with its new slogan and city flag.

You can pick up what they are calling “flag swag” on the city’s merchandise page, which they've set up using the on-demand e-commerce site Zazzle.

“There’s something for every Peorian, including babies and pets,” the city manager said in a statement.

The new products were inspired by a “See Yourself in Peoria” tourism campaign that wound up leading to the city’s new flag. In a recent TV segment, representatives for the city even brought out Whiskey the dog, who looked a little uncomfortable in a Peoria-branded T-shirt.

With a clean, mountainous design in red, white, and blue, the flag has patriotic overtones and a trio of stars overlaid on top. While not particularly imaginative, it could be worse. Peoria’s new banner certainly isn’t as garish as some other flags out there

click to enlarge More flag swag from the city of Peoria. - COURTESY OF PEORIA OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
More flag swag from the city of Peoria.
Courtesy of Peoria Office of Communications
Residents were reportedly clamoring for the merchandise, according to the press release from the city.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the positive citizen feedback we received not only about the new flag, but also requests for the city’s flag on everyday products,” Peoria City Manager Jeff Tyne said in a statement.

The city’s digital media manager, Kristina Perez, told Phoenix New Times in an email that the designs were produced in-house by a staff graphic designer at no additional cost to the city.

“Selecting products was a group effort where multiple staff in various departments provided their ideas,” she wrote. “Additionally, after we revealed our new flag to the public, we received many comments and ideas about how residents would like to sport the flag in their personal lives.”

What does sister city and erstwhile rival Peoria, Illinois, think about the new campaign?

For one thing, the Arizonans’ catchphrase is slightly cumbersome: “See Yourself in Peoria.” The Midwesterners’ slogan is simpler; it’s just, “Enjoy Peoria!”

“That rolls off the tongue,” said Stacy Peterson, communications director for Peoria, Illinois.

She has a point. Peoria, Arizona, is asking people to envision themselves in the city — what if they’ve never even been to Arizona? How can you see yourself in a place for which you have no point of reference?

It’s all a little abstract for a tourism campaign intended to get people to spend their disposable income hiking and camping near Lake Pleasant.

Peterson claimed to New Times that whoever is running the Peoria, Arizona, social media page repeatedly tweaks Peoria, Illinois, for the latter's harsh winters. As a result, Peterson added that she’d like her city's slogan to be: “Peoria, Illinois: It’s better here — we have four seasons.”

The rivalry has a bit of history.

According to Illinoisans, Arizona’s Peoria is actually named after the original city in the heartland.

“Peoria, Arizona, was founded, I’ve always been told, by Illinois people who went out there,” Peterson said.

There may be some truth to that. According to Jodey Elsner and the Peoria, Arizona, Historical Society, settlers from Illinois moved west to Peoria in the late 19th century to farm along the banks of the New River.

Peoria, Illinois, is also the inspiration for the catchphrase, "Will it play in Peoria?" That's a reference to the city being at the center of the heartland, and supposedly if a product or performance goes over well there, it would do likewise with mainstream Americans.

Of course the city also became butt of many jokes related to the phrase, particularly among old vaudeville types. "Have you ever played Peoria?" "Peoria? Oh, yes — I spent four years there one night!"

You won't find that on Peoria, Illinois, merchandise.

But back in Peoria, Arizona, the city-branded dog bowl will set you back $24.95. A tie is $34.95. And a pair of Peoria-flag flip-flops is $35.60.

As it turns out, sporting your love for Peoria isn’t cheap.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty