THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT, if you consider flashing a bright shiny fact into a quarter-century of darkness a “spoiler.”
The famed setting of Fox’s animation landmark “The Simpsons” has forever been the generically named “Springfield” — a fictional, nuke-loving town that may or may not have been named for a factual Springfield anywhere on the American map.
Now, thanks to “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, let there be geographic light.
In a new interview with Smithsonian magazine, Groening tells Claudia De La Roca (who’s worked on the show) the true root of the town’s nom de toon — after she asks: “OK, why do the Simpsons live in a town called Springfield? Isn’t that a little generic?”
“Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon.,” says Groening, 58, who was born in Portland — so the reveal isn’t exactly out of left field.
“The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show ‘Father Knows Best’ took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown,” Groening continues. “When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name.
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“I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought: ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’
“ he says. “And they do.”
Some fans highly knowledgeable about both Oregon and “The Simpsons” have noted the show’s allusions to Portland over the years. Groening acknowledges: “I very early on named a lot of characters after streets in Portland. ... There’s Flanders, Kearney, Lovejoy. ... ”
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Asked why he’s never revealed the appellation inspiration of Springfield before, Groening replies:
“I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’ ”
Today, there is no joy in other Springfields — mighty Oregon has lucked out.
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