“Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon,” Groening told Smithsonian. “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. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. 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.” And they do.”
Groening gave the residents of Springfield a hint that perhaps it had inspired the fictional town when he appeared there for the premiere of “The Simpsons Movie" in 2007. While there, he signed a plaque: “Yo to Springfield, Oregon … The real Springfield! Your pal, Matt Groening. Proud Oregonian!”
As the news spread, residents of Springfield, Ore., started discussing how the attention might be used to their advantage. “This is an opportunity to really make this place explode,” Jack Kohler, the owner of a frozen yogurt store, told the Associated Press.
“If they’re smart, they’ll have a Simpsons month, they’ll build statues to them kids can sit in, they’ll have characters during the Art Walk.
“If they don’t do that, they blew it.”
While the fictional Springfield sits hard by a nuclear reactor and is run by clownish politicians, the business people of Springfield, Ore., are not taking offense.
Denise Pohrman, the owner of a convenience store there, was surprised to hear about Groening’s revelation, but told the AP that her town should enjoy the attention. “There’s the stuffy part of history, and then there’s the trivia. Everybody needs some fun.”
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