What began in 1920 as a marketing gimmick by the Businessmen's League of Atlantic City to keep tourists in town past the Labor Day weekend continues today, as the Miss America Pageant returns to the Jersey Shore after a nine-year run in Las Vegas.
While the new Miss America won't be crowned until the pageant's finale on Sept. 15, this year's contestants are already in Atlantic City, where last week's activities included a clambake. Apparently, there's nothing like a bucket of New Jersey steamers to calm pre-pageant jitters and neutralize figure-altering appetites.
There have been numerous Miss America spin-off pageants over the years, starting with Miss Universe and ending with what sounds like a Miss Universe pageant contender, the Miss Klingon Empire pageant, held annually in conjunction with Atlanta's annual Star Trek Convention.
Thanks to a tip from a source across the hall, I now see pageants going in a new direction, with beauty and scholarship competitions for:
Miss Calculation -- sponsored by the American Algebra Association.
Miss Fortune -- sponsored by the American Banking Association.
Miss Information -- sponsored by Fox News.
Miss Fire -- sponsored by the Discount Ammunition Manufacturers of America.
Miss Guide -- established by the American Outfitters Association.
Miss Taken -- open to contestants who were recently engaged.