Oddly Enough, California Doesn't Have An Official State Food

What do peaches, bizcochito cookies, grits, and popcorn all have in common? They're all official state foods, but none of them belong to California. Many of the country's states have declared an official state food that represents how its people eat, but there are a few notable exceptions to the rule, and California is a prime one.

California has a state dinosaur, a state marine mammal, a state folk dance, and even a state grass, but has yet to declare an official state food. Although the state isn't alone in its absence of a state food, it may come as a surprise that Californians, who we know love avocados and burritos, have niche "state categorizations" but no state food. California's lack of a state food might make sense, though, when we consider how large the state is and how diverse — and occasionally, regional — its signature dishes are. But what would the contenders for California's one designated state food even be?

Which foods represent California enough to be its state food?

When we think "California," we probably immediately picture avocados — after all, pretty much any dish with "California" in the name features the versatile green fruit. But there's so much more to California than just avocados and all of the delicious dishes in which they feature prominently.

If you were to ask Californians what they believe the state food should be, their answers might vary based on their region. San Francisco is known for its sourdough bowls full of steaming clam chowder. In Los Angeles, you'll find an abundance of street tacos and the best burritos, but it's also the birthplace of the Cobb salad. In more agricultural parts of the state, fruits and vegetables rule the roost; the small town of Gilroy is considered "the garlic capital of the world" for its extensive production of the veggie we've come to associate with pizza and pasta sauces. It's no wonder that California has no official state food — with options this varied, how could the state decide on just one? California doesn't seem in any rush to establish a state food, but how many other states are in the same boat without a state food, too?

What other states don't have an official state food?

Not every state has declared a state food, and while some states have established more specific categories of food, like a state pie or a state muffin, others have no foods to speak of in their "state categories" roster. About one-fifth of U.S. states don't have any food officially associated with their state at all, and still, others have a state dessert or state nut that doesn't count as their official state food.

According to The New York Times, former California Governor Pete Wilson has even said that California is "too diverse" to choose a state food, but what's the excuse for all those other states? Some states without a state food, like Hawaii, instead have multiple signature dishes,  which makes choosing a formal state food extremely difficult. Other states lacking an official state food, including Nevada, Colorado, and Montana, are perhaps better known for other cultural draws of their state, like their casinos or ski resorts. And while it may not be immediately apparent why other states like Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, and Michigan, haven't declared a state food, it's possible that they simply may not find it necessary. California may have too wide a variety of delicious foods to make one "official." Still, it's far from the only state without a designated state food, so even if it remains without one, that's not too unusual.