Special Report

The Most Iconic Foods Every State Has Given the Rest of the US

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Imagine a rich pork bone broth with sage and savory mixed with pork jowl and organ meat, thickened with cornmeal, then sliced and fried like polenta. Sound delicious? That is scrapple.

For those who’ve never eaten it, the word scrapple may invoke images of pig brains and all the unmentionable “scraps” being ground into a grey loaf of gelatinous horror. The truth is, the word scrapple is derived from the German panhaskröppel, which means “a slice of panhas” — panhas being the German predecessor to scrapple that was thickened with buckwheat instead of corn.

Scrapple is synonymous with Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, and while it’s known across the country, it’s most beloved in the mid-Atlantic and gaining popularity in charcuterie circles. Here are more examples of the strangest foods from every state.

Many such regional delicacies have gained regard across the United States. 24/7 Tempo reviewed regional and state cuisine for all 50 states and picked the most iconic foods that each state has given the rest of the country — and these are the most iconic items at America’s biggest fast food chains.

It may be common knowledge that gumbo and jambalaya come from New Orleans, but did you know that the ever-popular Cuban sandwich was invented not in Cuba but in Florida? While some of these foods have become ubiquitous American fare, others are just gaining popularity. All, however, are worth a taste.

Click here to read about the most iconic foods from every state. 

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> Iconic food: Fried green tomatoes

Although this classic Southern side dish wasn’t invented in Alabama, it became an iconic staple at restaurants across the state after Alabama author Fannie Flagg’s popular novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” was made into a movie.


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> Iconic food: King crab legs

Alaska supplies 29% of the world’s crabmeat, including the sought-after Alaskan king crab, which can weigh up to 24 pounds. Their meat is known to be sweeter than other crabmeat, making them a favorite at seafood restaurants nationwide.

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> Iconic food: Chimichangas

Two Arizona restaurants claim that their founders invented the chimichanga independently of each other — one in 1922 and the other in 1946. Either way, this deep-fried burrito has become a signature dish in the region.

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> Iconic food: Fried pickles

Deep-fried dill pickles were invented in 1963 near the Atkins Pickle Plant by Bernell “Fatman” Austin, owner of the Duchess Drive-In in Atkins. Although the plant and drive-in are now closed, Austin’s family still serves fried pickles at the town’s annual Picklefest.


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> Iconic food: Cobb salad

This classic salad featuring hard-boiled eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and chicken, was invented in 1937 by Bob Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles, when he threw together some leftovers for himself as a late-night snack.

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> Iconic food: Root beer float

Originally called a “black cow,” the root beer float was invented by bar owner Frank Wisner in Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1893.


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> Iconic food: Lobster roll

The first documented lobster roll was sold in Milford at Perry’s Restaurant in 1929. Connecticut lobster rolls are traditionally served hot with melted butter.

Source: Daren M / Yelp

> Iconic food: Chicken and slippery dumplings

Sussex County has long been the seat of a thriving poultry industry — and chicken and slippery dumplings a Sussex specialty. Slippery dumplings are pieces of dough rolled flat and cut into large rectangles.

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> Iconic food: Key lime pie

The key lime, a smaller, seedier lime with more acidity and flavor than regular lime varieties, is grown in the Florida Keys and used to flavor the official pie of Florida.


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> Iconic food: Cuban sandwich

The Cuban sandwich, which features two types of pork with mustard, cheese, and pickles on Cuban bread, originated in the Cuban immigrant communities around Key West and Tampa in the mid-1800s.

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> Iconic food: Peach cobbler

While fruit cobblers have been popular since early American settlers baked them in Dutch ovens, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Georgia Peach Council helped establish a National Peach Cobbler Day to celebrate this dessert made from Georgia’s juiciest crop.


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> Iconic food: Poke

Made by ancient Polynesian people for centuries before colonization, poke is a native Hawaiian dish of raw marinated fish that has gained international popularity.

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> Iconic food: Finger steaks

Although it’s served with a side of fries, Idaho’s signature dish isn’t potato based; it’s battered, deep-fried beef tenderloin. These finger steaks are worth going out of your way for, as they have yet to gain popularity outside of the Northwest.

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> Iconic food: Deep dish pizza

Invented in Chicago at Pizzeria Uno in 1943, deep dish pizza is thicker than New York style pizza, and served with the sauce on top of the cheese.


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> Iconic food: Sugar cream pie

Also known as Hoosier pie or Indiana cream pie, this sweet staple is a custard pie made from cream, eggs, and vanilla in a butter crust.

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> Iconic food: Sliced bread

Otto Rohwedder of Davenport invented and patented the automatic bread-slicing machine, leading to the first loaf of sliced bread being sold in 1928.


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> Iconic food: Sour cream and raisin pie

Made with or without meringue topping, sour cream and raisin pies are a Kansas specialty introduced by European immigrants.

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> Iconic food: Mint julep

The mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, and now nearly 120,000 juleps featuring Kentucky bourbon are served during the two days of the event.

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> Iconic food: Beignet

Made of classic French choux pastry, beignets were brought to New Orleans by French settlers from Acadia in eastern Canada. These fried dough puffs covered in powdered sugar are addictive enough that visitors and locals alike will wait in line for a fresh batch.


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> Iconic food: Po’boy

Multiple conflicting accounts exist surrounding the invention of the po’boy — a French bread sandwich often featuring fried seafood with lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and pickles — but most can agree that it first appeared in New Orleans and is now nationally beloved.

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> Iconic food: Lobster roll

As opposed to the hot buttered lobster rolls famous in Connecticut, Maine’s specialty is a cold lobster salad with mayonnaise and celery on a New England bun.


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> Iconic food: Crab cakes

Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are a local staple in Maryland, and crab cakes with Old Bay seasoning and tartar sauce are perhaps the finest application of the region’s crabmeat.

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> Iconic food: Boston cream pie

Created at the Parker House Hotel in 1856, Boston cream pie consists of two layers of sponge cake filled with thick vanilla custard and topped with chocolate sauce.

> Iconic food: Parker House rolls

Another Parker House Hotel creation, these rolls date back as early as 1874 and are now known nationwide as the perfect dinner roll.


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> Iconic food: Pasties

Originally from Cornwall, England, the pasty is a handheld meat pie that gained popularity in Michigan when Cornish immigrants came to work in Upper Peninsula copper mines. It turns out, handheld meat pies were the perfect no-mess lunch to bring into the mines.

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> Iconic food: Honeycrisp apple

The ever-crispy, extremely juicy, barely tart honeycrisp apple was developed by scientists at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s and finally introduced to the market in the 1990s. It is now a fall favorite across the country.


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> Iconic food: Mississippi mud pie

Resembling the muddy banks of the Mississippi River, this pie consists of multiple layers of chocolate — from the cookie crust, to a dense layer of cake, to a rich chocolate pudding, topped with whipped cream.

> Iconic food: Gooey butter cake

Invented in St. Louis in the 1930s or 1940s, gooey butter cake consists of a bottom cake layer with a chewy, pudding-like filling and a delicate crisp top.

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> Iconic food: Huckleberry pie

Often confused with blueberries, huckleberries are a wild berry with crunchier seeds, thicker skin, and more acidity than blueberries. Native to the Northwest, these berries have developed a sort of cult following in Montana, and huckleberry pie is served statewide during harvest season.


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> Iconic food: Kool-Aid

After an inventor in Hastings gave up on trying to market his liquid fruit drink concentrate, he found a way to dehydrate it into a powder and it eventually became Kool-Aid.

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> Iconic food: Shrimp cocktail

This incredibly simple yet elegant appetizer made its debut in 1959 at the Golden Gate Casino in Las Vegas.


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New Hampshire
> Iconic food: Cider donuts

New Hampshire produces over 24 million pounds of apples each year, and while cider donuts are popular all over New England, this state deserves recognition for the variety of flavors and widespread availability of these autumn dough delicacies.

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New Jersey
> Iconic food: Pork roll

Also known as Taylor ham, pork roll has long been a breakfast staple in New Jersey and the surrounding states. It is most commonly served fried with eggs and cheese on a breakfast sandwich. New Jersey residents are divided over what to call it, and President Barack Obama amusingly weighed in on the Taylor ham-pork roll debate during his commencement address at Rutgers University in 2016.

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New Mexico
> Iconic food: Roasted green chiles

Fire-roasted green hatch chile peppers are a prevalent ingredient in New Mexico cuisine. They’re served on pizzas and burgers, blended into sauces and stews, and provide a wallop of flavor with just the right amount of heat.


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New York
> Iconic food: Buffalo wings

As the name implies, Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo, New York. First served at the Anchor Bar, the deep-fried wings are coated in a blend of hot sauce, butter, and red pepper.

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New York
> Iconic food: Eggs Benedict

Multiple stories pinpoint New York City as the birthplace of eggs Benedict, a rich breakfast dish of poached eggs, ham, and hollandaise sauce on an English muffin.


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North Carolina
> Iconic food: Carolina pulled pork BBQ

Barbecue aficionados may never agree on which style is king, but in eastern North Carolina, pulled pork with a tangy — never sweet — vinegar sauce is the only way to serve barbecue.

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North Dakota
> Iconic food: Chocolate-covered potato chips

Invented at Carol Widman’s Candy shop in Fargo, a chipper is the sweet, salty treat we all wish we’d known about sooner.

> Iconic food: Buckeyes

These peanut butter fudge balls dipped in chocolate are made to look like the nut of Ohio’s state tree, the buckeye, which is native to the Midwest.


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> Iconic food: Chicken fried steak

While nobody claims that Oklahoma was the birthplace of chicken fried steak, this comfort food popular in Texas and the surrounding states is so beloved in Oklahoma that it was placed on the official state meal list in 1988.

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> Iconic food: Tater tots

Created as a way to utilize the waste scraps of potatoes at the Ore-Ida potato factory in the 1930s, Tater tots are now a ubiquitous snack for children and hipsters alike.


Source: LauriPatterson / Getty Images

> Iconic food: Stromboli

Created by Italian immigrant Nazzareno Romano in Philadelphia and named after a 1950 Ingrid Bergman film, stromboli is a baked roll of dough layered with lunch meats, cheese, and peppers.

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> Iconic food: Cheesesteak

Pat Olivieri, a hotdog vendor in 1930s Philadelphia, is credited with inventing the cheesesteak. Though many variations are available, the common Philly cheesesteak is thinly sliced beef covered in Cheez Whiz.

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Rhode Island
> Iconic food: Clams casino

An appetizer of clams topped with butter, bacon, peppers, and bread crumbs and broiled until browned, clams casino were likely invented in Rhode Island and are now a New England classic.


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South Carolina
> Iconic food: Shrimp and grits

What started as a breakfast staple for South Carolina sailors and fishermen in the early 20th century is now a hot menu item in Southern-style restaurants from Seattle to New York City.

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South Dakota
> Iconic food: Kuchen

South Dakota’s official state dessert, kuchen is a pastry dough filled with a fruit or custard (or both) filling. It was originally brought to the area by German immigrants and now every South Dakotan family has its own variation on the dessert.


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> Iconic food: Cotton candy

Originally called fairy floss, cotton candy was created by two Nashville candymakers in 1897 when they invented a machine that heated sugar in a spinning bowl.

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> Iconic food: Chili

Chili con carne, or chili with meat, is a dish native to Texas. Though its origins are much disputed, its flavors may have been influenced by immigrants from the Canary Islands, a Spanish possession west of Morocco.

Source: Dimple S / Yelp

> Iconic food: Fry sauce

This pink secret sauce originally meant as a burger dressing is made from ketchup, mayonnaise, dill pickle juice, garlic, and a secret blend of spices. Invented by Don Carlos Edwards, owner of the restaurant Arctic Circle, it is now Utah’s culinary claim to fame.


Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/

> Iconic food: Ben & Jerry’s

Designer pints of pretzel, cookie dough, and caramel ice cream may be a dime a dozen nowadays, but we can thank childhood buddies Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield for getting this delicious trend started in the 1980s.

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> Iconic food: Virginia ham

Known as Virginia ham, Smithfield ham, or country ham, this Virginia delicacy is salt-cured and aged for months, rather than wet-cured and smoked like common hams.


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> Iconic food: Rainier cherries

This beautiful hybrid cherry named after the tallest mountain in Washington was developed at Washington State University. Although Rainier cherries are yellow with a pink blush, they were created by crossing two red cherry varieties: bing and van.

West Virginia
> Iconic food: Pepperoni roll

Originally a lunch item for immigrant coal miners, this country store and gas station delight is a bread roll with pepperoni and sometimes cheese baked inside.

Source: LauriPatterson / Getty Images

> Iconic food: Fried cheese curds

It’s no surprise that Wisconsin is home to the fried cheese curd, a restaurant appetizer and country-fair favorite that rivals french fries as a side-order.


Source: Juanmonino / Getty Images

> Iconic food: Bison jerky

Bison is the state mammal of Wyoming, and bison ranches dot the state. This lean jerky can be found in gas stations and grocery stores statewide and is also nationally available.

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