Special Report

The Most Iconic Product in Each State


Each state has a set of symbols such as a flag, flower, tree, and an animal or bird. Often, though, a certain product rather than a symbol is most identified with a state. This is true of Kentucky bourbon, Texas oil, and Florida oranges.

Products — such as particular crops, food products, technologies, or natural resources — come to symbolize a place for different reasons. Often, states have a unique — or abundant — natural resource. In other cases, a state’s history has become intertwined with a specific product. Or, a state’s economy is dependent on one particular product. Some state economies are more diverse, and so a product is iconic because of the tastes of its residents. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most iconic product in each state.

Click here to see the most iconic product in each state

While 24/7 Wall St. editors chose only one product in the end, an argument could be made for multiple iconic products in many U.S. states. California, for example, could claim semiconductors, gold, and a wide variety of agricultural products, from avocados to almonds.

Products tend to become iconic in states where that industry thrives. In many cases, a state produces most of the national supply of a certain product — often its iconic one. Florida produces more than 90% of U.S. juicing oranges on a given year, and California’s share of the U.S. wine industry is about the same.

States compete with one another not just for tourists, new residents, and resources, but also for the distinction of being known for a particular product or service. In many cases, the distinction is no longer accurate, at least based on current output. Georgia, the self-described peach state, is a distant third in annual production of the fruit.

In many states, the iconic product is no longer a major part of the state’s economy because of historical trends that caused the product to fade away. Pennsylvania was once the steel capital of the world, but while some plants still operate in the state today, steel is no longer the defining state industry. In Ohio, which once produced close to a third of the nation’s rubber, the industry has all but vanished.

To identify the most iconic product in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed claims made by state officials on government websites, export data, the presence of major companies, the role of products in the history of a state’s economy, and other subjective measures. A state does not have to necessarily lead the nation in production of its iconic product, but it needs to be closely associated with the product in the public’s eye in order to qualify.

These are each state’s most iconic product.

1. Alabama
> Most iconic product:

It is no accident Alabama is nicknamed the Cotton State, as cotton is Alabama’s largest row crop and played an important role in the history of the state. The plant is grown in nearly every part of Alabama — 59 out of 67 counties. In 2011, farmers in the state planted 460,000 acres of cotton. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the first settlers came to the state in search for land to grow cotton. They found such land in the state’s river valleys.

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2. Alaska
> Most iconic product:

Alaska is best known to some for its oil industry, yet fish is actually the state’s biggest export by a wide margin. Fish accounted for more than 40% of Alaska’s total exports, which include products such as oil and zinc — both among the state’s most valuable exports. No state’s fishing industry came even close to rivaling the industry’s relative importance to Alaska’s economy.

3. Arizona
> Most iconic product:

Copper in Arizona is a major feature of the state’s economy. The aptly named Copper State leads every other state in copper production and accounts for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s copper production. The U.S. Congress approved at the end of last year a bill that cleared the way for the development of a massive copper mine in Superior, Arizona. Mining company Resolution Copper Mining will operate the mine.

4. Arkansas
> Most iconic product:

Though Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, nothing is more important to the state’s agriculture industry than broilers, chickens bred for meat. On average, 34 chickens are processed every second in Arkansas. Tyson Chicken, one of the world’s largest meat and poultry producers is headquartered in Springdale, one of the largest cities in the state.

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5. California
> Most iconic product:

California produces approximately 90% of U.S. wine. The state is also the fourth largest wine-producing economy in the world behind Spain, France, and Italy. While it has not reached the level of prestige its european contemporaries have, Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries attract American and International tourists. An estimated 535,000 acres of wine grapes in total can be found in 48 of the state’s 58 counties.

6. Colorado
> Most iconic product:

In most states, the iconic product played a unique role in the state’s history. While marijuana’s role in Colorado’s economy has perhaps not yet stood the test of time, remarkable sales and the media fanfare around its legalization have popularized the plant as a symbol of the state. With combined marijuana sales of $639.4 million and rising in Colorado in 2015 through the month of August, marijuana’s iconic status will likely only continue to grow.

7. Connecticut
> Most iconic product:

Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, is known as the Insurance Capital of the World. Many of the nation’s largest insurance companies, including Aetna and The Hartford, have their headquarters in the city. Insurance giant Cigna is located in nearby Bloomfield.

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8. Delaware
> Most iconic product:

Delaware, the First State, also known as the Diamond State and the Corporate Capital of the World, is currently home to more than half of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 60% of all Fortune 500 corporations. Companies can elect to be incorporated anywhere they have an address — be it the Cayman Islands, the Caribbean, where they actually operate, or Delaware. The state’s business-friendly legal system and favorable corporate tax rate has made the decision easy for most companies trying to cut costs.

9. Florida
> Most iconic product:

Florida is a regional leader in the production of citrus products, including tangerines, and it is the single largest source of grapefruits in the world. The state is best known, of course, for its oranges. Few food products are more closely tied to a specific state than orange juice is to the Sunshine State. On average, more than 90% of the country’s frozen orange juice comes from fruit grown in Florida. The state’s orange orchards cover approximately 570,000 acres in the state, and production is second in the world only to Brazil.

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10. Georgia
> Most iconic product:

Officially nicknamed the Peach State, Georgia peaches have the reputation of being the sweetest in the world. The state is home to more than 15,000 acres of peach orchards yielding roughly 1.7 million bushels of peaches each year. Named for the iconic fruit, most of the peaches in Georgia come from Peach County. The county’s Peach Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year.

11. Hawaii
> Most iconic product:

Though Pineapples were introduced to Hawaiian shores in the early 1500s, they were not commercially farmed in the Aloha State until the 1800s. Pineapple production in Hawaii has been higher in the past. While the state is not a major producer of pineapples on a global scale, 400 million pineapples come from Hawaii, and the fruit is the number one agricultural commodity in Hawaii. Not only are pineapples an iconic agricultural product, they are also a major tourist attraction. After the Pearl Harbor bombing site, the Dole pineapple plantation is the most visited tourist attraction in the state.

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12. Idaho
> Most iconic product:

The state of Idaho established the Idaho Potato Commission in 1937 to protect and promote its Grown in Idaho brand. The Commission claims Idaho potatoes are distinctive because they are grown year-round in volcanic soil unlike potatoes grown in most other states. The state’s major potato fields are found in the southern part of the state. Idaho farmers plant over 300,000 acres of potatoes each year. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, around 60% of Idaho-grown potatoes are processed into fried products such as french fries.

13. Illinois
> Most iconic product:
Farm equipment

Illinois is one of the nation’s manufacturing hubs, with the industry accounting for more than 12% of the state’s economic output. While the nation’s manufacturing sector has sustained a long-term decline, Illinois’ machinery operations, particularly farm equipment production, are still relatively vibrant. The state is home to bulldozer and heavy-duty vehicle makers Caterpillar and John Deere. Also, dump trucks and tractors are among the state’s top exports.

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14. Indiana
> Most iconic product:

Due to its uniform texture and grade, limestone from Indiana is among the highest quality in the world. Unlike other kinds of limestone, Indiana limestone can be cut in any specific direction. Therefore, it can be worked to meet the requirements of almost any architectural plan. Some of the most iconic buildings in the country, including the Pentagon and the Empire State Building, were built from limestone extracted from Indiana quarries.

15. Iowa
> Most iconic product:

Iowa produced roughly 2.4 billion bushels of corn on 13.2 million acres of farmland last year. Iowa produces more corn in an average year than most countries in the world, according to the USDA, and it has led the nation in corn production for at least 20 years. It is no accident that corn is Iowa’s most iconic product. The crop has dominated the state’s economy for over a century. Iowa’s climate and the state’s other industry activities are amenable to corn farming. Iowa has a long growing season, and the high livestock production generates fertilizer needed to grow corn properly.

16. Kansas
> Most iconic product:

Churning out an average of 328 million bushels a year, no state produces more wheat than Kansas. Most of the wheat grown in Kansas is hard red winter wheat, which is used mostly for bread and all purpose flour. With unfavorable weather conditions, Kansas’ wheat production and the quality of the wheat crop have fallen dramatically over the past few years. However, this year there was a slight improvement.

17. Kentucky
> Most iconic product:
Bourbon whiskey

The U.S. government designated bourbon as a distinctive product of the United States, the only spirit to enjoy such a distinction. To legally name whiskey bourbon, the alcohol must be made in the United States from at least 51% corn. It has to be distilled at less than 160 proof and have matured in charred white oak barrels for a minimum of two years. Finally, nothing must be added except for water to the mixture. While it is not a formal requirement, bourbon has historically been produced in Kentucky.

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18. Louisiana
> Most iconic product:

Louisiana shrimpers netted more than half of the 9.5 million pounds of shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2014. Shrimping, both commercial and recreational, has long been a way of life in Louisiana. While the industry was initially threatened following the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, shrimp populations have actually increased since and the shellfish has been deemed safe to eat once again.

19. Maine
> Most iconic product:

Maine lobstermen caught more than 120 million pounds of lobster in 2014. Maine lobstermen have been landing enough of the crustacean to earn the state the distinction of being the No. 1 lobster-producing region in the world. Every year, about 30,000 people flock to Rockland for the annual Maine Lobster Festival.

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20. Maryland
> Most iconic product:

The blue crab can be found along Atlantic shorelines, from Canada to South America at different times of the year. However, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the few environments where the crab species can survive year-round. Over half of all hard shell crabs harvested in the U.S. come from the Chesapeake Bay. Consequently, crab has become Maryland’s signature fare.

21. Massachusetts
> Most iconic product:

Massachusetts is well known for its tech industry as well as for its colleges and universities. The state is also one of the nation’s leading producers of cranberries, producing about a third of the U.S. crop in 2014. Residents have been cultivating the small, tart berry in the state for nearly 200 years. Most of the state’s roughly 14,000 acres of cranberry bogs are located on Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts. For the last 14 years, Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association and juice company Ocean Spray have hosted a cranberry festival on the Cape.

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22. Michigan
> Most iconic product:

Home to Detroit, the Motor City, it is no surprise that vehicles and auto parts are Michigan’s most iconic product. The state shipped nearly $10 billion in automotive parts abroad in 2014, a 17.8% share of the state’s total exports. The state is also home to the headquarters of several of the world’s largest automakers. Headquartered in Dearborn, Ford manufactures the F series pickup, the best selling vehicle in the country. Additionally, General Motors is headquartered in Detroit and reported $155.9 billion in net sales in its fiscal 2014. 

23. Minnesota
> Most iconic product:

Most of the 9.7 billion pounds of milk produced annually in Minnesota goes towards the production of dairy products. One of them is butter. Nicknamed the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota is home to the headquarters of Land O’ Lakes butter brand. A member owned organization, Land O’ Lakes is the second largest cooperative in the nation.

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24. Mississippi
> Most iconic product:

Fried catfish has long been a staple of Mississippi cuisine. It is perhaps no surprise that catfish farms have a long history as a pillar of the Magnolia State’s economy. Primarily farmed in and around the Mississippi River Delta, catfish are raised in densely packed 10 acre to 15 acre manmade ponds. Mississippi produced 350 million pounds of catfish in 2005, more than half the total amount produced in the United States. In more recent years, however, consumers seem to have shifted their preference towards cheaper varieties farmed in Vietnam and China.

25. Missouri
> Most iconic product:

Home to large numbers of German immigrants in the 19th century, St. Louis quickly became a city known for its beer. Though Anheuser-Busch is now a subsidiary of Belgian company InBev, Budweiser is still brewed in the United States. While the company operates 12 breweries nationwide, the oldest and largest Budweiser brewery is located in St. Louis. In 1966, the company’s flagship brewery was named a National Historic Landmark.

26. Montana
> Most iconic product:
Precious metals

Gold and precious metal mining is an integral part of Montana’s history and culture. Along with California, Montana was a popular target among gold prospectors during the gold rush in the mid 19th century. Montana is also nicknamed the Treasure State because of the importance of mining. The industry is no longer dominated by gold extraction, but copper, another precious metal, is one of Montana’s top exports.

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27. Nebraska
> Most iconic product:

Beef is Nebraska’s most iconic product with cattle outnumbering people by about 4.5 million. Beef is also the state’s principal export, with more than a billion dollars worth of beef shipped abroad in 2014. Omaha Steaks, a multimillion dollar manufacturer and distributor of beef products, is headquartered in — and named after — the state’s largest city. Hides are Nebraska’s second biggest export, accounting for nearly 8% of the state’s total export value.

28. Nevada
> Most iconic product:

Nevada is home to Las Vegas, one of the most popular destinations for tourists seeking entertainment — be it the rodeo, luxurious hotel stays, or gambling. As of the end of September, 31.9 million people had visited Las Vegas in 2015, up 2.4% from the same period in 2014. Over that same period, gaming revenue totalled $7.2 billion in Clark County, and $4.7 billion in the Las Vegas Strip — each figure was roughly in line with revenue figures from the year before.

29. New Hampshire
> Most iconic product:

Much of the bedrock beneath New Hampshire soil is granite. In the early 19th century, granite was quarried by state prisoners. Today, aided by technology, large scale quarrying operations are a lucrative business. The largest granite quarry in the state, located just outside the capital city Concord, yields about 25,000 tons of the valuable stone every year. New Hampshire has supplied the granite for many of the nation’s iconic destinations and monuments, including the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and Quincy Market in Boston.

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30. New Jersey
> Most iconic product:
Salt water taffy

Invented in Atlantic City in the late 19th century, salt water taffy is now a summertime staple along coastal New Jersey. Several candy makers in Atlantic City and Ocean City churn out thousands of pounds of the chewy treat daily and sell hundreds of thousands of pounds annually. Despite what the name might suggest, the candy contains very little water and sometimes no salt.

31. New Mexico
> Most iconic product:
Chile peppers

The chile pepper has historical, cultural, and economic significance to New Mexico. Added to everything from fried breakfast food to traditional Mexican and American meals, red and green chile sauce is the signature of New Mexican cuisine. Not only is the chile pepper one of the official state vegetables, but also the village of Hatch in Southern New Mexico has dubbed itself the Chile Capital of the World. More than 30,000 people from across the country visit Hatch every Labor Day weekend for the annual Chile Festival.

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32. New York
> Most iconic product:

Home to more than 10 million apple trees, no state in the country grows a wider variety of apples than New York. In fact, many popular varieties of the fruit were developed in the state. Through cross breeding, the Cortland and Macoun variety were each developed in Geneva, New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Empire variety was developed at Cornell University in the 1940s. The apple is the official fruit of the state.

33. North Carolina
> Most iconic product:

North Carolina is one of the nation’s top manufacturing states, especially compared to other Southern states. The textile industry, in particular, has held a significant role in the state’s economy. Although U.S. textile manufacturing activity has waned since the 1970s, the industry has undergone a resurgence. In 2013, nine textile companies announced plans to expand their operations in North Carolina.

34. North Dakota
> Most iconic product:

North Dakota is currently known for its burgeoning shale oil industry, but the state is also one of the nation’s largest agricultural producers. The state produces large shares of the nation’s wheat, canola, barley, and bean crop. It also accounts for the largest sunflower crop in the United States. More than 40% of the country’s sunflowers are grown in the state each year.

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35. Ohio
> Most iconic product:

Ohio, like its neighbors Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, was once part of the nation’s manufacturing core. One of Ohio’s specialties was rubber. The city of Akron — at the time known as the rubber capital of the world — was the center of the state’s rubber industry. The city was home to large-scale factories of tire manufacturers B.F. Goodrich, Goodyear, and Firestone.

36. Oklahoma
> Most iconic product:
Wind Power

Oklahoma has a substantial oil industry, accounting for 7.1% of the country’s production of resource. However, it stands out even more for its renewable energy production, and particularly wind energy. The Sooner State is a top-five wind energy producing state, accounting for 15.1% of the state’s total electricity generation from windmills.

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37. Oregon
> Most iconic product:

Nike, arguably the most famous sneaker company in the world, originated in the state of Oregon. A track and field coach and a runner from the University of Oregon started the company after searching for a running shoe that would better grip the track. The company is still headquartered in the state, in Beaverton.

38. Pennsylvania
> Most iconic product:

Since the late 19th century, when Pennsylvania became the epicenter of mass steel production in the United States, steel has been an integral part of Pennsylvania’s economy and identity. The industry’s heyday in the Keystone State has likely passed. Last year, durable goods manufacturing, which includes steel manufacturing, accounted for 6% of the state’s GDP, in line with the industry’s contribution from the industry nationwide. Pittsburgh’s professional football team, the Steelers, is a testament to the importance of steel in the state’s culture.
39. Rhode Island
> Most iconic product:

Nicknamed the Ocean State, Rhode Island has more than 400 miles of coastline along the Narragansett Bay, which feeds into the Rhode Island Sound. The bay provides an ideal ecosystem for many aquatic species, including the clam. Though steamed clams, or steamers, are enjoyed throughout New England, they are are perhaps a more significant feature of seaside Rhode Island’s culture.

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40. South Carolina
> Most iconic product:
Boiled peanuts

Also known as a goober pea, boiled peanuts became South Carolina’s official state snack in 2006. Though people have been eating boiled peanuts for centuries in Africa, the tradition began in South Carolina in the 1800s as a means of using the remaining peanuts after the bulk of the harvest had been sold. Boiled peanuts also played an important role in the Civil War, providing sustenance for hungry soldiers throughout the South.

41. South Dakota
> Most iconic product:

State farmers raise an estimated 1.4 million hogs each year. As of June 2015, the state had 1.32 million head of hogs and pigs, up 9% from June 2014. The nationwide hog and pig inventory was at 66.9 million head in June. While the state’s inventory is low compared to other states, South Dakota exported close to $200 million worth of pork in 2014, or 12.4% of the state’s total exports, making pork one of South Dakota’s top exports.

42. Tennessee
> Most iconic product:

Lynchburg, Tennessee has been home to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery since 1866. Now the oldest distillery in the United States, the whiskey brand is estimated to be worth $5.2 billion. Distinct from other American whiskeys that are classified as bourbon, the Tennessee whiskey is filtered through 10 feet of charcoal before going through the aging process.

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43. Texas
> Most iconic product:

Nearly one-third of the nation’s crude oil reserves lie beneath Texas soil. Rich in resources, it is no surprise that many of the world’s largest energy companies have a significant presence in the Lone Star State. Texas is home to the headquarters of Phillips 66, Valero Energy Corp., ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest company in the state and the third largest company in the world by market cap. British Petroleum also operates more than 850 oil wells in East Texas alone. Texas exported more than $64 billion worth of petroleum in 2014.

44. Utah
> Most iconic product:

Based on Hershey Co. research, Utah residents buy candy at nearly twice the national rate. Several factors likely contribute to the state’s higher than average consumption rate of sugary treats. More than half of the state’s population identifies as mormon, a religion that forbids the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, which makes sugar a more likely option for indulgence. In addition, children tend to consume more candy than adults, and while less than a quarter of the nation’s population are children, nearly a third of Utah’s residents are under the age of 18.

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45. Vermont
> Most iconic product:
Maple syrup

Along with its bucolic landscape, Vermont has come to be known for its maple syrup — and for good reason. The Green Mountain State taps a larger percentage of its maple trees than any other state and produces more maple syrup each year than any other state. Vermonters are also large consumers of the syrup. The average state resident consumes nearly 11 pounds of maple syrup annually versus the national average consumption of less than half a pound per resident.

46. Virginia
> Most iconic product:

Tobacco was the foundation of colonial Virginia’s economy in the early 17th century. Almost every commodity at that time was valued in pounds of tobacco and the cash crop was used to standardize local forms of currency. Since then, tobacco production has diminished considerably in the Old Dominion State. Still, Virginia is home to some of the nation’s primary tobacco fields, located predominantly in the south of the state.

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47. Washington
> Most iconic product:

Washington, the Evergreen State, was once home to the headquarters of Boeing, but the company has since moved its base of operations to Chicago. Still, employing around 80,000 people, Boeing is the largest private employer in Washington. It is perhaps no surprise that Washington’s largest exports are aircrafts and aircraft parts — state exports of aircraft-related goods were valued at $48.7 billion in 2014, accounting for over half of the state’s total exports.

48. West Virginia
> Most iconic product:

West Virginia is in the Appalachian Mountain region, which is home to some of the nation’s most abundant coal deposits. The Mountain State extracts enormous quantities of the carbonized plant matter each year as it has since the mid-1800s. Coal-fired power plants produce the vast majority of West Virginia’s electricity, and 80% of coal produced in the state is exported to other parts of the country and the world.

49. Wisconsin
> Most iconic product:

The early 19th century brought waves of immigrants from Europe, many of whom settled in Wisconsin where cheesemaking would eventually become a statewide tradition. According to the International Dairy Food Association, Swiss immigrants started manufacturing foreign cheese in Green County, Wisconsin in 1845.

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50. Wyoming
> Most iconic product:

Horses — bred in Wyoming for racing, showing, and recreation — are a nearly $300 million industry in the state.While the industry is larger in Kentucky, horses are central to the sparsely-populated state’s image and a horse is featured on the state quarter. There is approximately one horse for every five Wyoming residents, the highest ratio of any state.

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