And the winner is...

Perhaps you recall an item in this space Jan. 16 about the dispute between International Falls, Minn., and Fraser, Colo., over which rightfully can claim to be the "Icebox of the Nation." Well, the issue at last has been resolved in favor of International Falls. Last week, the town received certificate No. 3,375,139 from the US Patent and Trademark Office, granting it the legal right to the title. "I ran over to the attorney's office and kissed [it]," said Mayor Shawn Mason. Anywhere else, "icebox" might well be a distinction that a town wouldn't want, even as a hedge against global warming. But International Falls uses it as a marketing tool, telling industry: We want to be your first choice when you test products against the cold. In 1988, in fact, a meteorologist from St. Cloud State University (also in Minnesota) filed an affidavit claiming that except for one month a year, meat would thaw and ice cream would melt in the Colorado community, whereas they'd be "safe" in International Falls. Today, however, that argument probably wouldn't impress the folks in Fraser, even if they now are forced to concede defeat. At last word, the municipal offices there were closed due to worse than usual winter weather, and Mayor Fran Cook couldn't drive out of her garage because it was blocked by 4-foot snowdrifts.

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