The Unofficial Food Of Each State

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Which food is each state known for? It’s a straightforward question, but the answer could surprise a lot of people given what popular opinion says. On the flip side, some entries might make a lot of sense.

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Alabama: Barbecued pork ribs

Anytime one heads south it feels likely that barbecue is going to get a mention. Slathered with sauce, flipped and turned with pride, and cooked until the meat falls off the bone, pork ribs are a favored pastime in the South. If you can barbecue, then you might belong here.

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Alaska: Salmon

There are other places to get salmon, that’s true. But unlike Alaska, a lot of places will receive it frozen, and if you ask anyone who knows, there’s a big difference between fresh and frozen. Sometimes it’s best to get something this great at the source.

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Arizona: Sonoran hot dogs

Wrapped in bacon, tucked into a steaming house-baked bolillo, and complemented with beans, onions, mustard, mayo, and house salsa. Now, imagine all those sensations hitting your mouth with every bite. Yeah, that’s a good reason to pay a visit to the southwest.

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Arkansas: Barbecue sandwich

Barbecue is all well and good, but placing it in a sandwich is another level of culinary delight since it’s another chance to heighten the experience. Imagining the accompanying sauce or spread and the side dishes to go with it makes the mouth water with the possibilities. Slaw and fries, pickles and chips? It’s tough to choose.

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California: Tacos

Thinking about which foods each state is known for is tough in some cases. But in California, especially further south, tacos are an easy, versatile choice that counts as street treats or fine dining depending on location and the desired fare.

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Colorado: Colorado Mex

One might not think that Colorado and Mexican food would go together, but the truth is that there’s a lot of Southwestern heritage found in this state. A lot of dishes in this state are given a touch of Mexican cuisine, from green chile with breakfast to burritos, Mexican hamburgers, and much more.

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Connecticut: White clam pizza

The white sauce and littleneck clam pie might not stand out as what a pizza should look like in the opinions of many people. But at the end of the day, this pizza is considered one of the best in the state. It’s not well-known outside the region, but locals will swear by it without fail.

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Delaware: Scrapple

This dish isn’t much to look at. It’s not all that appealing unless you’re starving, or you’ve tasted it before. But if you’ve had it, then you know it’s filling and it’s a great start to the day.

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Florida: Cuban sandwich 

Considering how many immigrants have entered the USA through Florida, Cubans in particular, it’s not hard to see how their cuisine has stood out. It’s a simple sandwich with Genoa salami, roast pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, but it’s worth trying. Finding out where the best one in the state is made is tough.

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Georgia: Biscuits

It’s tough to go wrong with biscuits. When talking about which food each state is known for, biscuits are amazingly absent until coming to Georgia. A lot of states have their own take on the biscuit, but down south is where they’re typically the best.

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Hawaii: Malasadas

Just don’t call them donuts and you’ll enjoy them a lot more. Brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants, these fried, cinnamon and sugar-dusted treats are a great memory to make when visiting Hawaii. Even the custard puffs will lighten your mood.

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Idaho: Basque food

As a culture, Basque food such as eggs with chorizo, croquettes, roast leg of lamb, and Gateau Basque are a few of the delicacies found in Idaho. While it’s not limited to one type of food, the cuisine is something that one can expect to see when they visit.

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Illinois: Italian beef

When determining which food each state is known for there are a lot that have the Italian touch. Immigrants have a lot to do with this since many cultures were brought to America back in the day. Thank goodness too, since otherwise, it’s tough to say what Americans would have grown used to instead of these simple but delightful dishes.

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Indiana: Smash Burgers

It sounds more like a chain than anything, right? This style went international at one point though, and the price reflects how popular it is. It might look like a Big Mac, but it’s all Smash.

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Iowa: Pork tenderloin

When thinking about which foods each state is known for it’s easy to think that Iowa stands out when it comes to livestock. Pork loin isn’t unknown in other parts of the world, but here it’s often considered one of the finest foods in the state. From sandwiches to grilled cuts of meat, pork loin is one of Iowa’s culinary treasures.

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Kansas: Fried chicken

A lot of states will claim that they have the best fried chicken. It’s typical, but a lot of Southerners will experience one reaction or another ranging from humor to disbelief. If you want a good chicken dinner the South is one of the best places to go, and Kansas is a great spot to find a crispy, golden-fried piece.

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Kentucky: Mutton barbecue

This might come as a bit of a surprise. But mutton barbecue is one of Kentucky’s favored offerings. Add some Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, and your favorite seasonings and spices and you’re on your way to culinary heaven.

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Louisiana: Fine dining

This is one of the toughest entries on the list since the idea of which food each state is known for is usually definitive. In Louisiana though, fine dining includes a wide array of foods. From fried green tomatoes to crawfish to even gumbo, fine dining encompasses a wide selection of treats that every visitor should try.

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Maine: Lobster rolls

Your mouth is likely watering right now at the mention of lobster, right? When determining which food each state is known for, Maine is a simple entry. As one can guess, the mention of where to get the best lobster isn’t much of a competition.

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Maryland: Blue crab

Sometimes it’s easy to guess which food many states are known for, especially those located on the coast. But in Maryland, the blue crab carries a special place in the hearts and stomachs of many locals. During the summer, it’s recommended to join a crab feast and of course, to find the nearest crab dish you can.

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Massachusetts: Ice cream

It’s too easy to see how ice cream is claimed by multiple states as a claim to fame. But this frozen treat has stood the test of time as a part of the local culture for a while now. It’s not necessarily the only thing that Massachusetts is known for, but it’s one of the best.

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Michigan: Pasties

They look like steaming pockets of goodness and luckily, but some folks might mistake them for something else. From the flaky crust to the beefy, onion flavor, this is a meal that a person can enjoy at any time of the day.

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Minnesota: Whitefish

If you can believe it, there are more Omega-3s in whitefish than in salmon. This food is a big deal in Minnesota, and the best part is that you can get it shipped to your home or visit and get it fresh.

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Mississippi: Hot tamales You wouldn’t really think about tamales when talking about Mississippi, would you? But apparently, when it comes to which foods each state is known for, the tamale became a staple of Mississippi as immigrants started bringing their culture up from the south a bit at a time. As additions go, it’s one of the best ones.

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Missouri: Barbecued burnt ends

Eating something that’s burnt doesn’t sound appetizing to a lot of people. However, this dish is something that a lot of Missouri locals swear by since when consumed with sauce or in a sandwich, it’s a meal that offers comfort and a reminder of what barbecue is.

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Montana: Pork chop sandwich

There’s a pattern to see when determining which foods are most popular in each state. Sometimes there’s overlap, sometimes it’s distinct. A pork chop sandwich made with pork tenderloin on a bun is easy to make no matter where you are.

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Nebraska: Runza

Back in the late 1900s, plenty of unique foods were brought into America by all types of people. This German-based dish is usually stuffed with beef, cabbage, onions, and a few seasonings. It’s an old-school dish that’s still popular in modern times.

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Nevada: Casino buffets

There are plenty of specialty restaurants in Las Vegas, but a buffet is by far more popular in Sin City. Think of it this way, most people want to focus on gambling, shows, and other sites. Food is fuel in this city, but it still pays to provide a variety and make it tasty.

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New Hampshire: Pancakes and maple syrup

Usually, when thinking about which foods are most popular in each state, maple syrup isn’t confined to America’s border. Pancakes aren’t even confined to state borders, but this dish is still something that New Hampshire has taken as its own.

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New Jersey: Pizza

Everyone thinks they have the best pizza, and some states do. Given the fact that historically, cuisine entered from the East and moved west, New Jersey could lay claim to the title. At least once or twice in a decade.

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New Mexico: Red and green chile

The closer one gets to the Mexican border, the more likely they are to see this type of food. Some people can take the heat and some can’t. But honestly, the experience is worth it. Just keep the milk handy.

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New York: Pastrami

New Yorkers take a lot of pride in their state and their food, depending on the city. But pastrami is, thanks to pop culture and history, one of the meats that most associate with the Big Apple. The best place to go for a good pastrami sandwich is an argument waiting to happen though.

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North Carolina: Whole hog barbecue

If you’ve ever attended a whole hog barbecue it’s quite the site. Those in the south know how to barbecue, that’s rarely ever in dispute. Of course, if you’re an animal lover it’s kind of an ordeal, unless you’re hungry.

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North Dakota: Chocolate-covered potato chips

Some folks can justify this taste combination, others don’t get it. It’s a creative food, there’s no doubt about it. Covering a potato product in chocolate isn’t the first choice of a lot of people. But it does get a lot of points for originality.

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Ohio: Cincinnati chili

Yes, there is a bowl of onion-laden chili under that shredded cheese mountain. Many people say that there’s no such thing as too much cheese. It’s easy to think that a lot of those folks might come from Ohio.

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Oklahoma: Smoked bologna

This is the kind of dish that a person enjoys as a kid. Of course, nostalgia is often powerful enough to keep people coming back to their favorite treats. Bologna is something we usually grow out of, but taking a step back now and then is worth it.

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Oregon: Blue cheese

The push to the West occurred several generations ago, and with this came a lot of different bonuses. Immigrants who made their home in the West brought with them their culture and cuisine. The dairy industry has been huge in Oregon for quite some time, and they have the awards to prove it.

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Pennsylvania: Smorgasbord

Pickled buffets, massive buffets, all of it lends itself to the wonder and utter enjoyment of the average visitor. Dutch-style chicken pot pie, bacon dressing, the works. Is your mouth watering yet?

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Rhode Island: Stuffed clams

Too many people who live further inland don’t know the real pleasure of a clam. Stuffed clams are even better since they’re kind of like a clam meatloaf. The stuffie, as Rhodey citizens like to call it, is a half-shell of seasoned goodness.

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South Carolina: Shrimp and grits

You had to know grits would appear on this list eventually, yeah? Combining shrimp and grits sounds, initially, like an odd idea. However, it’s the type of dish that isn’t about to get 86-ed without a fight.

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South Dakota: Chislic

Have we thanked the early immigrants to this country yet? If nothing else, the foods that were brought to America back in the day are still enjoyable since they were adopted by those who stuck around. Cubes of meat skewered on sticks and slathered in sauce and seasoning are simple, tasty, and still stand out as a great snack or a full meal, depending on how hungry a person is.

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Tennessee: Hot chicken

Chicken is one of several foods that is tough to get wrong. There’s so much that one can do with it that ‘wrong’ only occurs when it’s uncooked or someone misses out on seasoning. Hot chicken from Tennessee is the type of dish that’s great at home or during a night out.

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Texas: Brisket

Don’t diss the bris-ket, just don’t do it. Texans take their barbecue seriously, and trying to compare them to anyone else is tantamount to walking into your grandma’s house with dirty shoes, it’s not a great idea. From barbecuing to smoking, Texas is the place you go when you want a superior meaty treat, or so it’s said.

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Utah: Pastrami burger

Some might call this an abomination, but determining which food each state is known for offers a few surprises. Utah isn’t exactly the flavor capital of the world, but with this delight, they can take their place in the long line of states that can boast a flavorful dish.

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Vermont: Cheese

One might think about Wisconsin when it comes to cheese, but Vermont would have something to say about that. Anyone who knows anything about cheese will undoubtedly expect to see this state’s contributions in any cheese aisle.

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Virginia: Ham

True, one can find ham in a lot of different states, but Virginia is one of those that takes this seriously. A slab of ham, a ham sandwich, a salty, seasoned, thick slice of ham with cheese, it doesn’t matter. If you want ham, they’ve got you covered.

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Washington: Seattle-style teriyaki 

Barbecue in the Pacific Northwest isn’t a huge specialty, but they try. When determining which food each state is known for it’s easy to find a surprise or two. Seattle is a major hub of humanity in this state, and out of all the different cuisines, teriyaki is by far one of the most popular.

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West Virginia: Pepperoni rolls

Meat and bread go together, end of story. The rest of the USA might have a different idea of what a pepperoni roll is all about, but West Virginia does it right. Chunks of Italian sausage, or slices, or sticks, rolled up in soft, white rolls are tough to beat for simplicity. As for taste, well, comfort food is the best way to explain it.

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Wisconsin: Cherry pie

A lot of states boast various pies and other treats, but Wisconsin is holding onto this made-from-scratch delight. Even if you’re not a cherry person, trying a slice is highly recommended.

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Wyoming: Bison

When deciding which food each state is known for, it helps to pay attention to the overall landscape. The American bison is the official state mammal of Wyoming, and it’s also the star in many a meal. Lean and tasty, it’s easy to see this meat is seen in butcher shops and on many a menu throughout the state.

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