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United States of Food

As diverse as the people that make up America, the United States of Food are varied and delicious.

By Addison LewisPublished 7 years ago 12 min read

America. The free. The beautiful. The hungry. Made up of 50 unique and individual states, that leaves alot of room for different food preferences, delicacies, and customs. From the king crabs of Alaska, Illinois' deep dish pizza, and Hawaii's spam to Texas' chili, the chislic of South Dakota and Virginia's ham biscuits, the United States of Food is made up of food that makes you hungry, food that makes you want to travel, and food that makes you happy to be exactly where you are.

Alabama - Fried Apple Pie

Fried apple pie is one of the best foods to come out of Alabama, and it has been popularized all over the world by McDonald's. This delicious snack was invented by bakers as a way to use up scraps left over after baking traditional pies, but fried apple pies have surpassed the original in terms of world consumption. We love Alabama for making pie portable!

Alaska - Alaskan Crab Legs with Butter

Crab legs with butter is a specialty now enjoyed all over North America, but this delicious and expensive delicacy hails from Alaska. Alaskan crab legs are so sought after that some stores and restaurants have been known to fraudulently claim their crab comes from Alaska, so be sure to be diligent when enjoying this treat.

Arizona - Chimichangas

The origin of the chimichanga can be traced back to an accident committed by a cook at the restaurant chain Macayo’s. After dropping a burrito in the deep fryer, the cook realized that a new delicacy had been invented. After a petition from Macayo’s, chimichangas have actually been declared the state food of Arizona, though they have their roots in Mexican cuisine.

Arkansas - Chicken and Dumplings

It is hard to narrow down an Arkansas specialty to just one food, but we’ll have to go with chicken and dumplings for this fine state. This comforting, stewy, and filling treat is known worldwide as the perfect American comfort food.

California - Cobb Salad

The official state fruit of California is the avocado, and California has created a perfect salad out of this nutritious fruit. The Cobb salad, which brings together eggs, bacon, chicken, lettuce, cheese, tomato, and of course, avocado—is the most filling salad you’re likely to try!

Colorado - Western Sandwich

Western omelettes and western sandwiches have become standard fare for diners, and many challenged cooks boast it as the only meal they can make themselves. Sometimes called the Denver omelette or sandwich, this snack is a staple everyone has likely encountered before (and incidentally, is a famous hangover cure).

Connecticut - Apizza

As you might have suspected, the snack hailing from Connecticut is one of the fancier on the list. Apizza is neapolitan style, with a thin crust, and romano cheese. Created and popularized by Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, the restaurant has also created other staple pizzas, like the white clam pie.

Delaware - Broiled Chicken and Sour-Milk Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings have been a staple in Delaware since the 1920s, when broilers became essential household cooking items. Broiled chicken and sour-milk dumplings are the pride of Delaware and a favorite for tourists and chefs, but also remains a staple in households across the state.

Florida - The Cuban Sandwich

Like Arizona, Florida boasts a diverse culture and population that often pops up in state cuisine. The Cuban sandwich includes roasted pork, ham, pickles, and mustard on a Cuban, French or Italian loaf. This simple sandwich was created to cater to Cuban immigrants, who often had ham sandwiches for lunch, and has now become a staple in diners and restaurants in Florida.

Georgia - Peach Pie

Georgia is well known for their peaches, and locals have made their peaches into world-famous pie. With peaches abounding throughout Georgia, peach pie became the perfect way to sweeten and serve peaches that had over ripened.

Hawaii - Spam

Hawaii is known for their fishing, and even their pineapples. But the food most widely consumed and enjoyed across the state is actually spam. Spam was brought in during World War II and exploded in popularity across the state. Chefs developed many recipes for spam including Spam Musubi, thinly sliced, fried, and wrapped in a nori sheet, served similarly to sushi. If you spend time in Hawaii, you’ll encounter creative spam recipes throughout the state.

Idaho - Finger Steaks

Some of the best foods on this list have been invented to make use of leftovers, and finger steaks are no exception. They were invented as a way to use up leftover tenderloin in Boise, and are the perfect pub-food staple.

Illinois - Deep Dish Pizza

The deep dish pizza from Illinois is basically the opposite of the apizza from Connecticut. Deep dish pizzas are made with toppings stacked in reverse, and have much more sauce than standard pizza (to compliment the extra dough, of course).

Indiana - Sugar Cream Pie

Sugar Cream Pie, also known as Hoosier Pie, is another recipe borne of necessity. In the 1800s, it was invented when apples weren’t available for pie baking. Instead of apple filling, creative chefs created a vanilla cream filling topped with brown sugar. The pie has become a staple and locally is now much more popular than the original apple pie it replaced.

Iowa - Loose Meat Sandwiches

Iowa hasn’t declared an official state food but if they did, our bet would be on loose meat sandwiches. Popularized in the early 1900s by a butcher, the sandwiches were popularized by the Made Rite brand. The sandwich and the restaurant are hugely popular throughout Iowa.

Kansas - Fried Chicken

You might have expected fried chicken to appear for Kentucky, and that is in part due to a contentious history about where the modern fried chicken was created. But, anyone who has been to Kansas knows that they love their fried chicken, and know how to make it right.

Kentucky - Hot Brown

This is one delicious state food you may not have heard of before. The hot brown is most popular locally, and certainly something to try when visiting Kentucky. It was created by The Brown Hotel in 1926, and is a delicious and indulgent breakfast.

Louisiana - Muffuletta

Muffuletta is another unusual food worth traveling for. This cold cut and olive sandwich hails from the French Quarter of New Orleans, and is said to be best when it has been left sitting for a few hours. Picking just one food for Louisiana is not easy, and this state is worth visiting just to work your way through the local cuisine.

Maine - Lobster Rolls

With miles of ocean coast, the people of Maine enjoy seafood year round. Where lobster may seem exotic to some, Maine locals have endless lobster recipes, with a favorite being the Maine Lobster Roll. There is no standard recipe for the rolls, but most involve a buttered hot dog bun, lobster meat, and a topping of celery, onion, and chives. Many local cooks have their own specialized lobster roll recipe, and you could eat your way through main sampling different varieties each day.

Maryland - Crab Cakes

Crab cakes were brought to Maryland by English settlers, and the state has held on to them since the 1800s. Crab cakes are usually mixed with breadcrumbs and seasoning and fried into a patty, and sometimes are served with specialty sauces or on sandwiches.

Massachusetts - New England Clam Chowder

Massachusetts is another state that loves its seafood, with much of the state sitting on ocean coast. New England Clam Chowder is, as you might have guessed, found throughout New England, but Massachusetts in particular, has adopted and specialized chowder.

Michigan - Cherry Pie

Michigan produces a huge amount of tart cherries each year, and one of the best ways locals have found to use them is to create pie filling. The tart cherry season is very short, so part of the popularity of the pie centers around the fact that you can only find it truly fresh for a limited time each year.

Minnesota - Juicy Lucy

The Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy) is so popular in Minnesota that two bars have a rivalry, and both lay claim to the burger. This burger is so popular because the patty is stuffed with cheese, so it really is the perfect burger.

Mississippi - Mud Pie

This sweet treat is made of cookie crumbs, cake filling, and topped with whipped cream, and has been popular Mississippi wide for over a century. The locals take so much pride in the dessert that it's actually named Mud Pie because the chocolate cake resembles the shores of the Mississippi river.

Missouri - Kansas City Barbecue

Don’t be confused! There is actually a Kansas, Missouri, and it is the home of some of the most delicious barbecue in the world. Created by Henry Perry, a smoked meat merchant, the meal consists of ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage, beans, potato salad, and coleslaw.

Montana - Bison Burgers

We all love a good burger, but too much red meat is something we all try to avoid. Bison burgers have been popular in Montana for years, and are now gaining wider popularity, because they offer a healthier but delicious alternative to beef burgers.

Nebraska - Omaha Steaks

Omaha Steaks was a brand that was very popular and successful throughout Omaha in the early 1900s. Very successful, the company put in a bid to serve meals on board the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1940s. This move allowed tourists and travelers from across America to try the steaks, leading to a very successful export business, and country-wide popularity.

Nevada - Chateaubriand

Much of the state cuisine of Nevada finds its roots in Basque recipes. Chateaubriand was popular in Nevada long before gourmet steak was popularized throughout the US, and is made from the thickest cuts of tenderloin

New Hampshire - Maple Syrup on Snow

There are so many ways to enjoy maple syrup, but serving it drizzled on snow is a New Hampshire favorite, and really celebrates the season. Enjoying maple syrup on its own is delicious, but you can also try it on ice cream, on pancakes, or baked over apples.

New Jersey - Hoagies

New Jersey took on Italian-style sandwiches and super sized them. Still containing many traditional Italian ingredients, hoagies are so large they are often used for eating competitions or shared among groups, and have been replicated by restaurant chains like Subway.

New Mexico - Hatch Green Chiles

For New Mexico, the food is more an ingredient than a full meal. Hatch green chiles are so popular throughout the Land of Enchantment that you’d have a hard time finding the recipe they haven’t been tried in. Eggs, sauces, chile, and quesadillas feature these chiles, that are selected before ripening and prepared for huge demand each season.

New York - Buffalo Wings

Maybe you’ve wondered where the name Buffalo wings came from before, and now the mystery is solved! These deep fried, saucy wings were invented in Buffalo and are now served in bars all over the world in a range of flavors.

North Carolina - Pulled Pork

We all owe North Carolina a debt of gratitude for creating pulled pork. This slow-cooked recipe is most often made with a sweet barbecue sauce, often served on sandwiches or rolls. In recent years, many people have tried to recreate their own pulled pork recipes in slow-cookers, but locals swear you can only get the real thing in North Carolina.

North Dakota - Kuchen

Kuchen is actually a German recipe, but one that has been kept alive by the German descendants in North Dakota. Kuchen is similar to coffee cake, but is served with a filling (usually apple).

Ohio - Cincinnati Chili

This unique blend of spaghetti and chili is definitely a comfort food dream. A plate of spaghetti topped with chili sauce and unbelievable amounts of cheese, it is worth visiting Cincinnati just to try this.

Oklahoma - Chicken Fried Steak

Steak cubes coated in flour and fried up in chicken fat and spices and served with thick gravy. Sound good? This dish is also served with potatoes and vegetables and is an absolutely filling meal. This recipe actually originated in Texas, but has been taken on whole-heartedly by Oklahoma locals.

Oregon - Marionberry Pie

This local favorite doesn’t quite have the national popularity of some of the other desserts on this list, because Marionberries are local, hybrid blueberries that are sweet and rich in flavour. The Marion variety is beloved by locals and make up over half of the blueberries grown in Oregon (and, we would guess, make up over half the pies consumed there as well).

Pennsylvania - Philly Cheesesteaks

Philly Cheesesteaks are a spinoff of the hotdog, invented by a street vendor in 1930. Fried steak is served on a hot-dog bun, and topped with cheese. The quality of the cheese and steaks available throughout Philadelphia varies, but it is hard to find a bad combination of bread, cheese, and steak.

Rhode Island - Clam Cakes

From a teeny-tiny state comes a teeny-tiny snack. Clam cakes are an appetizer you’ve likely tried at a wedding, and that’s because they hail from this trend-setting state. Clam cakes are a delicious snack-sized bite, and there are never as many as you want.

South Carolina - Hoppin’ John

There is a lot of debate about the origin of the recipe and the name of Hoppin’ John, but no doubt it is a beloved local recipe. Similar to a very thick stew, it contains black eyed-peas, pork, broth, and thickened with rice, it is most well-known as a staple during the Civil War.

South Dakota - Chislic

Chislic is simply “meat on a stick” but South Dakota has taken this simple concept and created a food movement. Beef, lamb, or venison are stewed or baked in a variety of ways, and served on toothpicks or small sticks for easy snacking. Though delicious, it is a very local tradition, and hasn’t picked up much outside of South Dakota.

Tennessee - Mountain Stack Cake

The mountain stack cake is a complicated specialty, one that takes locals over a day and a half to make. It involves rolling special cake dough into thin sheets, layering with apple filling, and allowing the cake to sit for over 24 hours before baking. The mountain stack cake was traditionally a layered wedding cake, with friends and family each contributing a layer to the cake—and contributing to the tradition of a stacked or tiered wedding cake.

Texas - Chili Con Carne

There are so many foods that Texas specializes in, but chili con carne has been a favorite in that area since the 1500s, so it wins points for popularity and longevity. There is fierce local debate about whether or not the recipe should contain beans, and competition to create the best hot sauce to complement the dish.

Utah - Jello Pretzel Salad

The people of Utah love Jello (their official state food) and the result has been some creative local recipes, like the Jello pretzel salad. Bringing together a layer of pretzels, cream cheese, and Jello, there might be a reason this favorite has stayed local.

Vermont - Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream

We have all unknowingly felt gratitude for the state of Vermont when enjoying Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Started in Vermont, this brand is now available in grocery stores and ice cream shops around the world.

Virginia - Ham Biscuits

This deceivingly simple snack is one that has been eaten throughout Virginia since the 1600s. Cured Virginia ham is served on a plain southern biscuit, often alongside breakfast or lunch. Despite the simple recipe, the delicious process of smoking Virginia ham is what makes this sandwich worthwhile.

Washington - Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

The practice of grilling salmon on cedar planks was learned from local natives, and is still done to enhance the flavor of salmon and add a delicious smoky flavor to the fish.

West Virginia - Pepperoni Roll

These rolls originated at a small bakery in Fairmont, West Virginia. They were created with working Italian migrants in mind, who were able to take the rolls to work safely with no need for refrigeration. The recipe is as easy as it sounds, simply baking pepperoni inside soft bread rolls, but the result is the perfect lunchtime snack.

Wisconsin - Cheese

Wisconsin is known by connoisseurs throughout the world for their cheese-making. With a long-standing tradition of dairy farming, locals have perfected cheese and cheese-based recipes for hundreds of years in the area.

Wyoming - Rocky Mountain Oysters

If you thought this was a seafood treat, sorry to disappoint you. More of a dare than a snack. Wyoming is known for Rocky Mountain Oysters, or deep fried calf bull testicles. The breaded snacks are served alongside specialty gravies and sauces, and have not gained much popularity outside of Wyoming.


About the Creator

Addison Lewis

Former Le Cordon Bleu student who traded in classes for a gourmet mac and cheese truck! Honk for gouda!

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