A fast food restaurant we drive past occasionally (I can’t remember the name, and given my ‘no free advertising’ policy wouldn’t tell you even if I could) has the slogan ‘A taste that’s bigger than Texas’. Which might sound impressive except that … New South Wales is bigger than Texas. So the slogan, in fact, equates to ‘A taste that’s as big as New South Wales’.
Texas isn’t all that big; it’s not even the biggest state of the USA, it’s smaller than three provinces and two territories of Canada, four states and a territory of Australia, and assorted country subdivisions in Russia, China and Brazil (and, surprisingly, Denmark). It’s just got good PR. ‘A taste that’s smaller than (choose one) Amazonas/Xingjiang/Alaska/Nunavut/Greenland/Western Australia/Sakha’ just wouldn’t have the same impact.
NSW is 16% bigger than Texas, South Australia is 50% bigger and the Northern Territory twice as big. Queensland is 2.66 times bigger than Texas and 7% bigger than Alaska. Western Australia is 3.75 bigger than Texas and 50% bigger than Alaska. And then the Sakha Republic is almost four and half times bigger than Texas and bigger than all but seven sovereign nations.
In 1986, the sesquicentenary of South Australia (as a colony of the United Kingdom) and Texas (as a republic), my father, mother and one of my sisters spent a few months in Texas on a job exchange. Before they went there, they visited a girl in Wisconsin who’d previously stayed with us on a student exchange. For some reason, my father was interviewed on radio there. Among other things, he said ‘I don’t know how I’m going to tell people in Texas that South Australia is half again as big as Texas’. The interviewer said ‘You don’t!’.