The Most Iconic Food Fact from Every State
True foodies might already know these fun food facts about their state. Learn a little piece of food history from each of the 50 states.
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Marcel Proust had his madeleine; Alabama has the Lane cake. The layered bourbon-laced confection makes a cameo in several books, including Alabama native Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and the memoirs of former president Jimmy Carter. Find out Jimmy Carter’s, and 24 other presidents’, favorite foods here.
Alaska is renowned for its wild salmon, but the wild salmonberries are plenty tasty too. Be careful, though—bears also adore them. In fact, many Alaskans wear “bear bells” when they go picking to avoid surprising their large berry-loving rivals. These are our best recipes out of Alaska.
Yuma County is known as the Winter Salad Bowl. Arizona is America’s second-largest producer of lettuce, behind California. Don’t miss the top State Fair food from each state.
Quiz: What’s the self-proclaimed edamame capital of the world? Mulberry, Arkansas! Of the top ten soybean-producing states in the United States, Arkansas is the only one not in the Midwest. Next, read about the oldest restaurant in every state.
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Food trucks are an urban staple today, but when Kogi BBQ hit the streets of LA in 2008, finding customers was an adventure. Kogi did it by posting its daily menu and whereabouts on Twitter. The smell of spicy, kimchi-covered Kogi Dogs helped too. “At every stop, it’ll be hundreds of young people and 12 middle-aged copycats in suits and ties asking where I buy my cabbage,” chef Roy Choi told Newsweek. If you’re new to food trucks, here are the answers to the most common questions about them.
The Fool’s Gold Loaf—featuring peanut butter, blueberry jam and a pound of bacon in a sourdough loaf—isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But when Elvis tried one in Denver, he loved it so much that he returned in his private jet to get more for daughter Lisa Marie’s eighth birthday. Check out a few more foods that the King of Rock ‘N Roll couldn’t get enough of.
The first Subway sandwich shop opened in 1965 in Bridgeport, and it’s fair to say the idea was genius. That original eatery was the brainchild of a nuclear physicist named Peter Buck. Today, Subway is the biggest fast-food franchise in the United States, with more locations than McDonald’s. Did you know you can get fresh-baked King’s Hawaiian bread at Subway now?
Until the 1920s, people raised chickens primarily for the eggs. That changed in 1923 when Cecile Steele of Ocean View ordered 50 chicks for her backyard flock—but received 500 by mistake. Undeterred, the entrepreneurial Steele sold the excess birds four months later at 62 cents a pound, effectively hatching the broiler chicken industry. These are our favorite recipes from Delaware.
During World War II, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked Florida orange growers to ramp up production in order to get vitamin C to the troops. Not long after, a Florida-based company started selling a new product called Minute Maid. If you head out on a road trip, make sure to hit up the best buffet in every state.
Georgia is also home to a lot of pecans. It’s the top producer of the nut in the entire world, believe it or not. Here are 70 ways to eat those pecans, from sweet to savory.
Hawaii and pineapples go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? Not so much anymore. Many pineapple manufacturers relocated their operations from Hawaii starting in the 1980s, citing rising costs. That canned pineapple you’re eating likely comes from Ecuador, Honduras or Costa Rica. Don’t miss this guide to the best comfort food in each state.
They may be synonymous with Idaho—they’re even on the state’s license plates—but potatoes aren’t native to the state. A missionary named Henry Harmon Spalding brought them west to Lapwai in 1836 and taught members of the Nez Percé tribe how to cultivate them. We love these 65 tasty ways to cook potatoes.
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In 1893, the organizers of the World’s Columbian Exposition asked Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer, the wife of the owner of the Palmer House Hotel, to provide a dessert for the event. She requested that the chef at the hotel make a “ladies’ dessert” that would fit into a boxed lunch. Today we call them brownies. Here’s the surprising birthplace of 19 other famous foods.
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The top pork producer in the United States, Iowa is home to nearly eight times as many pigs (23.5 million in 2019) as people (3.1 million residents). Find the best slow cooker recipe in every state.
Every year, farmers in Kansas typically grow enough wheat to make 36 billion loaves of bread. By the way, here’s the difference between whole wheat and whole grain bread.
In honor of the Kentucky Derby, some spectators at Churchill Downs sip mint juleps in silver-plated cups—at $1,000 a drink—for charity. On the other hand, these Kentucky Derby party recipes won’t break the bank.
The po’boy sandwich was born during the transit strike of 1929, when 1,800 streetcar conductors and motormen took to the streets of New Orleans. The Martin Brothers Coffee Stand and Restaurant provided large sandwiches for free to the “poor boys.” Today, you can order a po’boy with roast beef or fried seafood.
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Maine’s official state treat is the whoopie pie. “The secret is in the filling, which is cooked. Sour milk and real shortening are involved. But I cannot divulge the recipe, oh no, lest my sisters and I lose our reputations for the best whoopie pies in the county.” —Reader Heidi Sweetwater, Farmington, Maine. Want more desserts? Check out these Maine potato candies.
The town of Quincy isn’t known as the Birthplace of the American Dream for nothing. It was the original home of not one but two fast-food icons: Howard Johnson’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. Here’s what Dunkin’ Donuts employees want you to know.
John Harvey Kellogg was the king of cornflakes, but he was almost as famous for his Michigan-based sanitarium and health spa. Among its patients: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President William Howard Taft. Cornflakes aren’t just for breakfast. These holiday cornflake cookies are delicious!
Betty Crocker isn’t real! But that didn’t stop this fictional spokesperson, a creation of the Washburn-Crosby Company in Minneapolis (later bought by General Mills), from being named the second-most-popular woman in the nation in 1945, right behind Eleanor Roosevelt. These are the famous faces behind other brands.
It gets plenty hot on the bayou. During the late 1920s, Mississippians would beat the heat by sinking their feet in the mud of the river. Somehow, that became the inspiration for Mississippi mud pie, whose dense chocolate resembles the river’s muddy banks.
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Breaded and deep-fried, toasted ravioli are a St. Louis staple. The traditional way to eat them is with meat-filling and marinara sauce, like this delicious recipe.
Rocky Mountain oysters, also known as Montana tendergroins and cowboy caviar—euphemisms all: This dish is made from the testicles of a young bull. If that doesn’t sound appealing, try some of these other recipes right outta Montana.
In 1953, Omaha-based C. A. Swanson and Sons overestimated the demand for Thanksgiving turkey and found itself with 260 extra tons of frozen birds. The solution? Ordering 5,000 trays and assembling the first TV dinners, complete with cornbread dressing, gravy, peas and sweet potatoes.
Nevada has been home to a proud Basque population since the 1800s. The Basque cake, filled with cherry preserves and cream, is still a favorite way to finish a meal of chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce.
Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were running out of money for their organic farming school, Stonyfield Farm, in 1983. So they put their cows to work, started making yogurt and launched a successful brand. These famous companies originally had very different names.
Saltwater taffy was invented in 1883 in Atlantic City. The business became so competitive that a patent dispute over taffy-pulling machines went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1921.
Locals order their tamales “red” or “green,” depending on their chile pepper preference. Want both? Order yours “Christmas-style.” Here are 8 popular Mexican foods you won’t find in Mexico.
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Why do bagels have holes? So the Jewish immigrants who sold the yeasty rolls on New York City’s Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century could stack them up on sticks to take to customers. Learn how to make bagels at home, here.
North Carolina produces more sweet potatoes than the other 49 U.S. states combined. In fact, many North Carolinians insist that sweet potato pie—not pumpkin—is the true Thanksgiving dessert. Try one of these best Thanksgiving recipes of all time.
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Do you love digging in to a plate of spaghetti? Thank the farmers in the Sioux State. About 60 percent of the 75 million bushels of durum wheat produced annually to make pasta is grown in North Dakota.
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Chocolate gets messy in the summertime. So in 1912, Cleveland-based candy maker Clarence Crane came up with a sweet that could stand up to the heat. Crane borrowed a machine used by pharmacists to make pills and developed a new candy with a hole in the middle. In honor of its shape, he named it a Life Saver. Check out the most popular candy the year you were born.
The onion burger dates to the 1920s, when a resourceful restaurant owner fried up a pile of shredded onions to make a small hamburger go a little further. Speaking of burgers, get one at the most iconic diners in your state.
In 2013, Oregon became the first state to designate an official microbe. Why? Because without Saccharomyces cerevisiae—aka brewer’s yeast—you couldn’t make a decent craft beer, and Oregon has more than 280 craft breweries across the state.
As the anti-chain chain, Shake Shack loves to localize its menus. Which means that in Philadelphia you can dig into a Liberty Shell, a cannoli shell filled with vanilla custard, strawberry puree and lemon ricotta. Here’s the reason behind Shake Shack’s massive mistake.
The Ocean State is the smallest in the union, so perhaps it’s fitting that it has an official state appetizer: calamari. Check out these other dishes from Rhode Island.
South Carolinians ring in the New Year with a helping of Hoppin’ John. The dish of rice and black-eyed peas has roots in the state’s Low Country. Eat it with some collard greens and cornbread and feel lucky all year.
Native Americans have long eaten dried meat with cranberries for sustenance. The Oglala Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation updated their age-old recipe of dried buffalo meat and cranberry for the protein-happy to create an energy bar called Tanka Bar in 2006. If you prefer eating in, these are the best supermarkets in every state.
The Chattanooga Bakery was looking for a name for its marshmallow-filled cookie sandwiches, so a salesperson asked some coal miners what size snack they’d like to take into the mines. One man looked up at the full moon and said, “About that big.” The Moon Pie was born.
What’s the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex food? One telltale sign is cumin, which is rarely used in Mexico but is a staple in Texas chili con carne. Get your fill of Tex-Mex with these flavorful dishes.
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U.S. Senator Mike Lee hosts “Jell-O with the Senator” every week in Washington, DC, in honor of his home state’s official snack. Here’s the most famous food invention from each state.
The saffron in your paella or pilaf might come from the Green Mountain State. In 2015, the University of Vermont began cultivating the exotic spice, a crocus flower product.
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Virginia and Georgia both have locations named Brunswick, and both lay claim to inventing Brunswick stew. Virginians use chicken, while Georgians opt for pork and beef with hotter spices. Not in the mood for a stew? Whip up these tangy Island Virginia Crab Cakes.
Come spring, West Virginia residents head to the hills in search of “molly moochers,” aka morel mushrooms. The forest fungi are considered a delicacy in the Mountain State and beyond. Calling all caffeine addicts, these are the best coffee shops in every state.
Just because Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland doesn’t mean all the dairy has to come from cows. The state is also our leading producer of goat milk and, of course, goat cheese. Not to brag, but Wisconsin officially has the best cheese.
Wyoming is also a fisherman’s paradise, with more than 70 species of fish, including the state fish: the cutthroat trout. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely want to visit the best ice cream shop in every state.