SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The Springfield that exists in the mind of Matt Groening is a kind of American everything -- hick pit stop, rosy-cheeked Rockwellian font of family values, cesspool of corruption, ethnic melting pot, boomtown gone to rust.
It's what the creator of "The Simpsons," the nation's longest-running sitcom, used as a backdrop for 22-minute allegories about the American experience, beginning as earnest tales about a lower-middle class nuclear family and expanding to encompass spoofs of presidential elections, the obesity epidemic and "Citizen Kane."
It's also, according to an interview posted online Tuesday, a real place. "Springfield was named after Springfield, Ore.," Groening told Smithsonian magazine.
The inspiration, Groening explained, came when he was a child watching the TV show "Father Knows Best," set in a town called Springfield. Groening said he was thrilled to imagine the show was based in Oregon's Springfield, about 100 miles south of his hometown of Portland.
"When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name," Groening said. "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 said. "And they do."
Groening said he has long given fake answers when asked about the Simpsons' hometown, leaving open the possibility that his latest one is itself another fake. Asked later by The Associated Press, Groening said in a statement: "I have no idea where the hell it is. Like all Americans I flunked geography."