Call them what you will: vanity plates, initial plates, custom plates, personalized plates, but from this unscientific viewpoint, it seems that there's more of them out there than ever before. I had always heard that New Hampshire was a state of rugged individualists (as well as a state of tax free booze, motorbikers without helmets, and scary people in isolated shacks who married their cousins), and the vanity plate is a commonplace and (relatively) cheap way of flying your flag of individuality. You can't swing a dead pedestrian without hitting a car with vanity plates on the roads of New Hampshire.
The most common question, however, is "What the Hell is this person trying to say with their license plate?" Now, some plates are easy....that's because some plates are complete words. My wife, my oldest son, and myself all have vanity plates and they spell out complete words. Now, granted, the words themselves may be unfamiliar to people who don't have the right context or aren't "in the know", but even the uninitiated can point to a license plate that spells a complete word and say "That is a complete word; it's probably a proper noun, and I don't think I've ever seen it before, but that's definitely a complete word. Time for pie."
No, it's the plates that are made up of what usually ends up being a handful of consonants, clearly for space's sake, that makes some of us scratch our heads and go "What IS that?" The following are the best real-life examples we've seen. While in some cases it may be obvious as to what the owner is trying to communicate, it's fun to be obtuse.
OFFLMT: Obviously, this plate is spelling out "Offal Mountain". It is clear that the owner of this car considers it to be a first-class shitheap.
SWTTHNG: This plate reads "Sweat Hang". This driver must perspire heavily, until beads of sweat hang off the tip of his or her nose. Thanks for sharing.
SNFLWR: This person is obviously commanding people to "Sniff Lower". I can't think of any possible circumstance that this phrase can be used that will actually end well. Really.
SHTNSTR: This one's our favorite. Clearly, this is "Shit N Stir"...sort of like "Shake N Bake", but far, far more disgusting. You probably can NOT find this at your local grocery store.
Do you know any more? By all means, feel free to share in the comments.