The Most Iconic Food From Every State
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The Most Iconic Food From Every State
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The Most Iconic Food From Every State

The Most Iconic Food From Every State

The Most Iconic Food From Every State
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The United States is a country that loves to eat. Look at any of our major holidays or any party and that becomes immediately clear. But anyone who has traveled from sea to shining sea can tell you that what food is served across America varies greatly from state to state. And each and every state in the union has its very own iconic, signature food.

A mainstay breakfast for a New Yorker will look different than what a Californian chooses to eat for their first meal, a dessert in Ohio will be different than one from Alabama, and the way that Washington residents drink their coffee is going to be quite different than how a Rhode Islander takes in their daily dose of caffeine.

To determine what is the most iconic food in every state, we looked at regional specialties and official state foods. When a state had neither, we considered the output and culture of that state. Delaware doesn’t have many actual ties to scrapple, but they sure do love the stuff. What dish, drink, or food best represents the place you call home?

Alabama: Lane Cake

Alabama: Lane Cake

Also called prize cake or Alabama Lane cake, this dessert consists of tender layers of white sponge cake filled with bourbon-soaked raisins and coconut. It’s a staple at weddings and Southern holidays, but its roots are all Alabama. It was invented by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, in the 1890s.

Alaska: Salmon

Alaska: Salmon
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Cold-water seafood is an integral part of the cuisine in Alaska. The state is a major producer of trout, crab, cod, halibut, Pollock, and of course salmon. Alaskan salmon is second-to-none, especially when prepared as a poké bowl or grilled.

Arizona: Chimichangas

Arizona: Chimichangas
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This Tex-Mex staple has a bit of a debated history, but as the story goes the chimichanga was invented at El Charro in Tucson, Arizona, when the restaurant’s founder Monica Flin accidentally dropped a burrito in a deep fryer. It was a beautiful accident, though, resulting in this crispy, iconic Southwestern dish.

Arkansas: Cheese Dip

Arkansas: Cheese Dip
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Cheese dip is huge in Arkansas food culture, and nearly every restaurant has some variation of it. Though most Mexican restaurants have queso on their menu, Arkansas cheese dip differs because it contains processed cheese and oftentimes includes other added meats and vegetables.

California: Avocado Toast

California: Avocado Toast
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No state has embraced the avocado quite like California. This creamy fruit is practically a lifestyle in the Golden State. Avocado toast is an easy dish to mock, but you can’t deny California’s impact on making this regional meal a must-have brunch dish.

Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters

Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters

Yelp / Nikki N.

Rocky Mountain oysters are one of those foods that aren’t quite what they sound like. No, they’re not shellfish; they’re actually calves’ testicles, thin-sliced, breaded, and deep-fried. They’re iconic cowboy fare and are served at bars and restaurants all across Colorado. Heck, you can even get them at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.

Connecticut: New Haven Pizza

Connecticut: New Haven Pizza

Connecticut is the home to a few iconic foods and restaurants, including the supposed birthplace of the cheeseburger, Louis’ Lunch. But if you’re going to travel to the Constitution State, you have to try New Haven-style pizza. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana makes the best pizza in America, the white clam pie. While the combination of Romano cheese, garlic, olive oil, parsley, and clams may sound a little odd, trust us: It’s incredible.

Delaware: Scrapple

Delaware: Scrapple

Stu Spivack/Wikimedia Commons

Scrapple — a loaf made from pork scraps, cornmeal, flour, and spices — was actually invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch, but it’s really taken off in Delaware. The First State is the largest producer of this breakfast meat in the country, and every fall scrapple is honored at the annual Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware.

Florida: Key Lime Pie

Florida: Key Lime Pie
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Key lime pie is an official Florida icon; it was named the official state pie in 2006. This tangy, creamy citrus pie was invented in the Sunshine State in Key West, Florida, and is the dish the state is best known for. It's unique because of the key limes, a smaller, most acidic lime that is native to the Florida Keys.

Georgia: Peaches

Georgia: Peaches
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Georgia is nicknamed the Peach State for goodness’ sake, so of course it’s the most iconic food from this Southern state. Travel to Georgia, and you’ll find an array of peach desserts, grilled peaches, and fresh fruit ripe for the picking.

Hawaii: SPAM

Hawaii: SPAM
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Hawaiians love their SPAM. This canned lunch meat was made popular on the island during World War II, when the shelf-stable product was served to the servicemen. Though no one really knows what SPAM stands for, the salty canned pork can be found on menus throughout Hawaii.

Idaho: Potatoes

Idaho: Potatoes
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Idaho is known for its potatoes, and they want it to stay that way. In 1937, the Idaho Potato Commission was founded to market Idaho potatoes to the rest of the U.S. No matter what way you mash it, that’s a state that’s dedicated to its crops.

Illinois: Deep-Dish Pizza

Illinois: Deep-Dish Pizza
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Famous people tend to hate it and others insist that deep-dish isn’t a pizza so much as it is a casserole, but however you choose to classify it, deep-dish pizza is an institution in Illinois. Any list of the best deep-dish pizzas in America will largely consist of pies from the Chicago area, and for good reason. No one else does this dish quite like Illinois.

Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie

Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie

Sarah Stierch/Wikimedia Commons

Sugar cream pie supposedly first appeared the year Indiana was established. The pie incorporates sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract to make a custardy filling that is baked inside a flaky butter pie crust. It’s so synonymous with the state that it’s nicknamed Hoosier pie and Indiana cream pie.

Iowa: Corn on the Cob

Iowa: Corn on the Cob
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Corn and Iowa are one and the same, basically. If you drive through the state for more than 15 minutes, you’re going to run into fields of growing sweet corn. No matter how you cook your fresh corn from Iowa, it’s guaranteed to be delicious.

Kansas: Bread

Kansas: Bread
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Did you know Kansas is the state in the union that produces the most wheat? It’s true! Kansas’ nickname, the Wheat State, is well-earned. While barbecue is a staple in the Kansas side of Kansas City, the state’s production of wheat and bread is too important to ignore.

Kentucky: Bourbon

Kentucky: Bourbon
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Try and name a spirit that’s more quintessentially American than bourbon. We’ll wait. Bourbon production is largely concentrated in Kentucky and is then distributed across the country and world. Sure, it’s a drink, but it’s far and away the most iconic product from the state.

Louisiana: Beignets

Louisiana: Beignets
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Beignets are an icon of New Orleans. Most famously served at Café du Monde, these pillowy, deep-fried choux dough pastries are a common breakfast in Louisiana, served piping hot and fresh with a liberal amount of powdered sugar dusted on top.

Maine: Lobster Rolls

Maine: Lobster Rolls
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Sure, you can get a good lobster roll outside of Maine, but for the real deal, you have to head to the Pine Tree State. There, you’ll find a mayonnaise-based lobster salad piled on top of a perfectly buttered and toasted roll. Trust us: It’s worth traveling to Maine for.

Maryland: Crab

Maryland: Crab
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Blue crabs are found only in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and the meat in these particular crustaceans is so sweet and tender, it’s second to none. Crab in Maryland is a treasured seafood, and it is perfect in crab cakes, crab dip, or just steamed with plenty of Old Bay seasoning.

Massachusetts: New England Clam Chowder

Massachusetts: New England Clam Chowder
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True Bay Staters know it’s spelled and pronounced chowdah, but no matter how you say it, this creamy shellfish soup is a true icon of Massachusetts. Fresh clams, bacon, potatoes, cream, and fish stock make for a hearty chowder that is best eaten in the region its named after, New England.

Michigan: Cherries

Michigan: Cherries
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While Michigan has its own pizza style and a signature dish (the pasty), this state is all about cherries. Michigan is one of America’s leading producer of cherries; over 90,000 tons of this fruit is harvested in the state every year. Traverse City, Michigan, honors the cherry every July by hosting the National Cherry Festival.

Minnesota: Hotdish

Minnesota: Hotdish
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What most people will call a casserole, Minnesota calls a hotdish. This regional comfort food can be any number of things, but it’s typically a cream-based casserole with ground meat and canned vegetables, all topped with crispy tater tots.

Mississippi: Biscuits

Mississippi: Biscuits
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Mississippi is the home to the Biscuit Capital of the World: Natchez. Chef Regina Charboneau started making biscuits at age 10, went to culinary school in the '80s, and is still working to perfect her flaky biscuit recipe to this day. Mixing together French styles and Southern styles, the biscuits in Mississippi are like nothing else you’ll ever try.

Missouri: Toasted Ravioli

Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
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This twist on an Italian classic is said to have been invented in St. Louis and is served across the state as an appetizer and a main course. Despite their name, in true Midwestern fashion, these toasted ravioli are deep-fried, not actually toasted. It’s a classic Missouri way to make a relatively healthy dish indulgent.

Montana: Huckleberry

Montana: Huckleberry
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Referred to lovingly as “Montana’s purple gem,” huckleberries are often closely associated with the smaller blueberry, but anyone from Montana would tell you that is not the case. Large, round, and delightfully tart, huckleberries are the perfect in pies, ice cream, muffins, jam, and cocktails.

Nebraska: Runza

Nebraska: Runza

A Russian-German cousin of a pierogi or a calzone, a runza is a stuffed sandwich of sorts, with a rectangular yeast dough bread pocket enveloping a filling mixture of beef, sauerkraut, onions, and other seasonings. In Nebraska, the chain Runza specializes in this dish, and it’s the best sandwich in the state.

Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail

Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
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Nevada loves its shrimp cocktail. This simple yet iconic appetizer was introduced to the gaming public en masse by the Golden Gate Casino in 1959 and it caught on quickly as an incredibly popular (and cheap) dish. While shrimp cocktail’s popularity comes and goes in the rest of the U.S., you’ll still find it on nearly every restaurant menu in the Silver State.

New Hampshire: New England Boiled Dinner

New Hampshire: New England Boiled Dinner
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When you think of a New England-style boiled dinner, you may assume you’re about to eat a lobster boil or some steamed clams. But really, this iconic food from New Hampshire hearkens back to the colonial days. This traditional dish is made of corned beef or smoked ham, cabbage, potato, root vegetables, and onion boiled together in one pot. It’s hearty enough to get through any long, cold winter.

New Jersey: Pork Roll

New Jersey: Pork Roll
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New Jersey is obsessed with the pork roll. Also known as Taylor ham, the pork roll was reportedly invented in 1856 by John Taylor and is made of salty minced pork meat. Somewhere between Canadian bacon and normal bacon, this crispy yet soft take on ham is most popularly eaten with egg and cheese on a bagel for breakfast.

New Mexico: Chiles

New Mexico: Chiles
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Red and green Hatch chiles are practically a way of life in New Mexico. The chile is the official state vegetable, and a spicy sauce made from chiles is served with practically every meal. Can’t decide if you want red or green chiles with your food? Just order “Christmas.” It’s slang, but everyone knows that means you want both.

New York: Bagels

New York: Bagels
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Ask anyone living in New York: You just cannot find a decent bagel outside of the state. There’s something in the water (literally) that makes the outside perfectly crisp while maintaining a soft, doughy inside. Whether you eat your New York bagel with lox, cream cheese, and capers or go for the classic bacon, egg, and cheese, the bagel is an icon of New York City and beyond.

North Carolina: Pork Barbecue

North Carolina: Pork Barbecue
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There are a lot of regional barbecue styles, but in North Carolina, a good barbecue revolves around the pig – the whole pig. Traditionally, the pork is coated in a tangy vinegar sauce, and we think it’s best served on a freshly-baked roll for a perfect pulled pork sandwich.

North Dakota: Chippers

North Dakota: Chippers
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No, a chipper is not mulch; it’s a chocolate-covered potato chip. Invented by the best chocolate shop in North Dakota, Carol Widman’s Candy, chippers are the perfect mix of sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy. It’s an underrated treat in most of the country, but it’s everywhere in North Dakota.

Ohio: Buckeyes

Ohio: Buckeyes
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Ohio’s nickname is the Buckeye State, but because the actual chestnut from the buckeye tree is highly poisonous, Ohioans had to make their own treat to resemble their icon. The buckeye is a creamy, mega-sweet peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. It resembles the nut itself and tastes 100 times better than any peanut butter cup.

Oklahoma: Chicken-Fried Steak

Oklahoma: Chicken-Fried Steak
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Chicken-fried steak is exactly what it sounds like: Thin, pounded-out steak that’s battered and deep fried like it’s a perfect piece of chicken. While you can find it across the South, Oklahoma claims to have the best chicken-fried steak in the country, and it’s quite plentiful in the area.

Oregon: Marionberries

Oregon: Marionberries
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The marionberry is a cross between two different kinds of blackberries; it was developed and cultivated at Oregon State University in the 1940s and released in the state in 1956. Oregon’s climate is practically perfect for the growing of marionberries, but because the fragile fruit doesn’t ship well, it’s not seen much outside of the region. It’s primarily used in marionberry pie, jam, and ice cream.

Pennsylvania: Cheesesteaks

Pennsylvania: Cheesesteaks
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If you want to find America’s best cheesesteaks, you have to go to Pennsylvania. This sandwich is a true signature of the state. Thinly chopped ribeye is cooked quickly on a griddle and slapped on a roll with American cheese, onions, and peppers. It’s the perfect indulgent, greasy, and salty food.

Rhode Island: Coffee Milk

Rhode Island: Coffee Milk

You’ve heard of chocolate milk and even strawberry milk, but unless you’re from the Ocean State, you probably haven’t heard of coffee milk. No, it isn’t a healthy creamer for your coffee, it’s actually just coffee extract and milk together. Weird? Kind of! But it’s the official state beverage of Rhode Island.

South Carolina: Boiled Peanuts

South Carolina: Boiled Peanuts
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Boiled peanuts are salty and slightly mushy peanuts that almost take on the form of beans, and can be found at roadside stands and gas stations across the South. But people from South Carolina have such a fondness for this food product that they named boiled peanuts the official state snack in 2006.

South Dakota: Frybread

South Dakota: Frybread
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Frybread is the official state bread of South Dakota. Like a lot of foods with simple names, frybread is exactly what its name implies. It’s a flat dough bread deep-fried in oil or lard. It can either be served sweet with powdered sugar or honey or savory by being turned into what is called a “Navajo taco” with ground beef, beans, shredded cheese, and other classic taco toppings.

Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken

Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken
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Nashville hot chicken is taking the country by storm, but its roots (as the name implies) are all in Tenessee. Allegedly first created by a lover scorned, who in turn wanted to scorn her dining partner, Nashville hot chicken truly is h-o-t, with a deep red color and a peppery sauce that will light your tastebuds on fire.

Texas: Chili con Carne

Texas: Chili con Carne
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Texas’s food is so unique, it’s inspired an entire cuisine: Tex-Mex. Texans love their tacos, chips and salsa, fajitas, and queso, but the official state dish is all Texas: chili con carne. This spicy stew originated in The Lone Star State and is now a favorite tailgating dish across the country.

Utah: Fry Sauce

Utah: Fry Sauce

If you order a side of fries in Utah, don’t forget the fry sauce. Popularized by burger chain Arctic Circle, fry sauce is the simple yet irresistible combination of ketchup and mayonnaise. It’s perfectly creamy and tangy, and it’s honestly baffling it isn’t more widespread. Heinz may call this combination mayochup, but Utahans know it’s fry sauce.

Vermont: Maple Syrup

Vermont: Maple Syrup
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If you had to pick just one icon from the state of Vermont, it’d have to be the maple tree. The maple tree is the state tree, and the state even named maple its official flavor. There’s no product more singularly popular from the Green Mountain State than maple syrup. Drizzle it on waffles, pancakes, or in your coffee if you want, but true Vermonters know sugar on snow (which is maple syrup drizzled on top of snow) is the best way to eat it.

Virginia: Smithfield Ham

Virginia: Smithfield Ham
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Smithfield, Virginia, is known for its namesake ham, a dry salt-cured, smoked, and aged ham. Also called country hams or Virginia hams, this pork product is best served atop a bed of lettuce for the perfect Southern presentation.

Washington: Coffee

Washington: Coffee
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Washington State is famous for a lot of things: Its fresh salmon, oysters, geoduck, and apples are all icons of the region. But no export of Washington is as world-famous as its coffee. Yes, the biggest and best coffee chain in America, Starbucks, got its start in Seattle in 1971. Today, the mega-chain has over 13,000 stores nationwide.

Washington, D.C.: Half-Smokes

Washington, D.C.: Half-Smokes

Yelp / Sherri M.

served in Washington, D.C., and its surrounding areas. This link is typically larger and spicier than your average hot dog, and the meat within the casing is coarser. It may be a bit of a tourist trap restaurant, but D.C. locals will tell you to head over to Ben’s Chili Bowl to get their iconic half-smoke, served with mustard, fresh onions and homemade chili sauce.

West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls

West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls
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Go to any convenience store in West Virginia, and you’re going to find pepperoni rolls. Like the name implies, the pepperoni roll is a yeast bread roll with pepperoni and oftentimes mozzarella cheese inside. As the rolls are cooked, the oils from the pepperoni seep into the dough, creating a crusty yet seriously satisfying texture and meaty flavor.

Wisconsin: Cheese

Wisconsin: Cheese
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Wisconsin is nuts about its cheese. Seriously. The residents of this state refer to themselves as Cheeseheads, the state’s official animal is the dairy cow, and they’ve even designated cheese as their official dairy product. The best way to eat cheese in the Badger State? Fried cheese curds.

Wyoming: Jerky

Wyoming: Jerky
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Is there any state that’s more true to the wild, wild west than Wyoming? The state’s trademark is a bucking horse and a rider, for goodness’ sake! So of course, the state’s most famous food is jerky. Beef jerky, buffalo jerky, and turkey jerky are all fine and good, but the most quintessentially Wyoming food has to be bison jerky. It’s not the only state symbol out there, and we bet you can’t guess the icon of every state in the union!

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The Most Iconic Food From Every State