There's a new economic boom in Alaska -- and it has nothing to do with oil.
Call it "Palin-mania."
Companies are cashing in on a new craze sweeping the country sparked by the sudden fame of John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.
The new cottage industry involves anything carrying her name.
Palin is, of course, no longer "Sarah Who?" and, a week after her stunning naming to the Republican ticket, Palin items have become hot properties.
From t-shirts to thong underwear, from the flattering to the not-so-flattering, sales of just about everything related to the McCain-Palin ticket have been flying off shelves, at the just-concluded GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., on the Internet, and other settings, Blackstone says.
In Anchorage, silk screeners are working overtime to meet nationwide demand for Palin t-shirts.
"We're trying to strike while the iron is hot -- be quick," explains John Williams, production manager for Alaska Serigraphics.
It began a week ago, when McCain named her to the ticket. The iron got even hotter when Palin spoke Wednesday night at the convention.
For t-shirt makers, one of her lines was particularly inspiring: "You know the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Lipstick."
"Immediately," says Williams, "I'm just like, 'God, I could reach in and kiss her! This is perfect! Everybody's gonna love it.' "
By Thursday morning, an artist was hard at work on the pitbull/lipstick design. The shirts haven't even been printed yet but, says Williams, buyers are already lining up: "They're ordering it sight unseen. They don't care. They just want it."
In one Anchorage shop, Ann Bickford was scooping up Palin t-shirts. How many? "I'm buying so many, I lost count," she laughed.
The shirts Jim Dooley is selling at his Anchorage athletic supply store keep the message simple, saying "McCain/Palin," but that hasn't hurt sales.
"We've had more people in here this last three days than we probably have in three or four months," Dooley told Blackstone.
At the Republican convention, Paul collectibles celebrated more than just her politics. One said, "A hero and a hottie."
If the souvenir sellers there had had their way, Palin might be at the top of the ticket: One item said, "Strong girls vote for Palin/McCain."
One woman says she sold all 10,000 Palin buttons she had.
Pain's leap to fame is also benefiting such Web sites as CafePress.com, which now has an inventory of 137,000 Palin-related items.
And for those who just can't get enough of Alaska's governor's celebrity, the Web is now overflowing with impersonators on video.
One, from Lisanova, has racked up a half-million hits on YouTube since its debut three days ago.
It has a McCain impersonator saying, "Susan?"
"Sarah," a Palin impersonator corrects him.
"Pawlin?" the McCain actor says.
"Palin!" replies the frustrated Palin actor.
"Do you want to be my vee-pee?" asks "McCain."
"Yes. I'll be your vee pee," is the response. "Now let's talk policy."
The t-shirts, says Blackstone, printed with pride in Anchorage, are about more than a governor, it seems.
"Alaska's waited a long time to kind of be on the map, so to speak; we're kind of overlooked up here," Williams says.
But now, Blackstone points out, the cold state has the hottest name in politics.
Some of the more popular catchphrases on Palin-related products: "Sarah-Cuda," "Palin Power," and a t-shirt saying, "I'm voting for Sarah Palin -- Oh, yeah -- and that old guy, too!" Another one: "Global warming doesn't kill polar bears. Sarah Palin does. With her bare hands."
Less flattering ones, which the other side could snap up, include these phrases: "Caribou Barbie," "McBush/Quaylen," and "McCain and the Naughty Librarian."
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