Special Report

The Most Iconic Food From Every State

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Hawaii
> Iconic dish: Poke

A basic dish of Native Hawaiian cuisine that’s become incredibly popular on the mainland in recent years, poke is made by slicing raw fish into cubes and tossing it with a wide variety of sauces and add-ins. Ahi tuna, salmon, and cooked sliced octopus are the most common proteins, and common accompaniments include soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, seaweed, chopped chiles, roasted chopped candlenuts, and Maui onions. Many of the state’s top poke shops offer several varieties, made with super-fresh fish.

Idaho
> Iconic dish: Spudnuts

If you’ve never heard of Spudnuts, then you’re not from Idaho. Idaho is the land of potatoes, and Spudnuts put them to good use, in doughnut form. To make them, potatoes are mashed and made into a traditional yeast dough before being deep fried and glazed. The potatoes keep them moist and add layers of richness and flavor. There was once a national chain specializing in the treats called Spudnuts, but few units remain.

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Illinois
> Iconic dish: Deep-dish pizza

Love it or hate it, deep-dish pizza is Chicago’s most legendary culinary export. Purists argue that it’s more of a casserole than a pizza, but there’s no denying that it’s hearty and delicious. Nobody can say for certain who invented it, but most agree that it was popularized at the original Pizzeria Uno in the 1940s. To make traditional deep-dish, buttery dough is spread onto the bottom of a deep, round pan, then topped with plenty of cheese and various toppings (sausage is a favorite); then sauce is added, traditionally with a sprinkling of parmesan to finish.

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Indiana
> Iconic dish: Sugar cream pie

Just the name alone sounds magical, doesn’t it? Sugar cream pie, also called Hoosier sugar cream pie, is an Indiana specialty made by filling up a pie crust with a creamy mixture of flour, cream, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and baking until it lightly caramelizes. It was brought to Indiana by Quaker settlers and popularized by the Amish, and it remains the unofficial state pie of Indiana.

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Iowa
> Iconic dish: Loose meat sandwich

If you’ve never had a loose meat sandwich, also called a tavern sandwich, think of it as a sloppy Joe without the sauce. Invented by Fred Angell in the 1920s at his restaurant (called Maid-Rite), this sandwich is made by cooking seasoned ground beef, mixing it with sautéed onions, spooning it onto a bun, and topping it with traditional burger accompaniments like ketchup, mustard, pickles, and cheese. Maid-Rite remains a popular Midwestern chain.

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