Skip to comments.The Tuesday List: Each State's Signature Food, Ranked
Posted on 04/22/2014 7:05:03 AM PDT by Scoutmaster
What are the United States' best regional foodstuffs? Its worst? [W]e have ranked them. Rigorously scientific (not), ardently researched (nope), and scrupulously fair (not even a little bit): this is the Great American Menu!
"Man is mortal. He frolics upon the grass of life for but a short season, and then is snatched back to the inanimate dirt of his origin. The Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, America's greatest regional foodstuffall those toppings, so much cheese and meat, I can hear my heartbeat, this can't be right, it sounds like a chainsaw, can that be right?will greatly hasten that day's arrival, but it will also fill at least a little part of at least one of those days with a transcendent, mind-boggling, outrageously indulgent sensory experience. This is the best thing any food can do, and certainly far beyond the capabilities of [stares daggers at New York] a sheet of soggy cardboard with a flap of waxy melted cheese stretched across it."
2. Shrimp and grits (South Carolina)
3. Mission-style burrito (California)
4. Crab cake (Maryland)
5. Peach pie/cobbler (Georgia)
6. Gumbo (Louisiana)
7. Key lime pie (Florida)
"But what about the Cuban sandwich?!?!?!?! First of all, there's some controversy about the Cuban sandwich's origins: Either it is from Cuba, in which case it is Cuba's sandwich and not Florida's, or it is from Tampa, in which case it is not a Cuban sandwich and has a dumb name, in which case it [stinks] because things from Tampa [stink] because Tampa [stinks]. In any case it is not as definitively Floridian as Key lime pie, which originated in Florida and is made with ingredientsKey limesthat are native to Florida and nowhere else."
8. Fried green tomatoes (Alabama)
10. Marionberry pie (Oregon)
"The 'Marion' cultivar (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus) or Marion blackberry, marketed as marionberry, is an indigenous blackberry developed by the USDA ARS breeding program in cooperation with Oregon State University. It is a cross between the 'Chehalem' and 'Olallie' blackberries. The marionberry is currently the most common blackberry cultivar, accounting for over half of all blackberries produced in Oregon. Source."
11. Hot wieners (Rhode Island)
12. Burgoo (Kentucky)
"Kentucky's signature food, a whatever-you-got stew that never tastes the same twice, gets a million imaginary bonus points for its wonderful communal nature: People just bring whatever ingredients they can, and everybody puts what they've got into the stew, and out comes burgoo, and that is just . . . beautiful, even though in reality probably 78 percent of its ingredients were scraped off I-64 with a snow shovel."13. Pulled pork barbecue (North Carolina)
"Pulled pork is more reliably tasty than burgoothat is to say, there's virtually zero chance of it containing a fistful of raccoon furbut a lot less wonderful. Science."14. New England clam chowder (Massachusetts)>
T-15. Kansas City-style ribs (Missouri)
T-15. Memphis-style ribs (Tennessee)
"For real, they're the same [thing]. But hey, let's fight about it!"
17. West Virginia slaw dog (West Virginia)
"This is a hot dog with a chili-like meat sauce, mustard, and coleslaw on it. (Sometimes it has chopped onions on it, too.) Which, yeah, you can get variations of that pretty much anywhere, but West Virginians are serious about the coleslaw part. It's tasty."
18. Chimichanga (Arizona)
19. Frozen custard (Delaware)
"Suggested advertising language for your frozen custard shop: Frozen custard! It's just like ice cream, only not particularly significantly unlike it, and only preferable if you grew up with it!"
20. Texas-style barbecue brisket (Texas)
"Beyond the smoky tastiness of all barbecue, the virtues of the Texas-style barbecue brisket are as follows: It is very large. The end."
21. Fried okra (Oklahoma)
22. New York-style pizza (New York)
"By rough estimate, there are 900 trillion pizza joints per person in New York City. Somehow, within this competitive environment, not a one of the purveyors of "New York Pizza" has yet considered the wild and crazy idea of maybe trying to do somethinganything!interesting with its pizza. Here is a comically large, thin wedge of dough with some indifferent, rubbery cheese smeared across it, and maybe a few greasy F-grade variants of the same . . . toppings you can get on your lousy DiGiorno back in . . .Topeka. Oooh, it's so New Yorky! In that it is overpriced and happy to coast along on a long-since-hollowed-out myth of Big Apple authenticity, just like everything else in this giant, bad-smelling amusement park for rich white people! New York pizza isn't even a genuine pizza genre. It's just lousy . . . pizza. Papa John's with a chip on its shoulder."
23. Hot Hawaiian breakfast (Hawaii)
"This is Spam, eggs, and rice. Tastes like authentic cargo cult!"
24. Lobster roll (Maine)
25. Bull testicles (Montana)
26. Fried catfish (Arkansas)
27. Maple syrup (Vermont)
28. Scrapple (Pennsylvania)
"[But the Philly cheesesteak!] Shut it. The famous grease-and-garbage sandwich belongs to the city of Philadelphia, which A) is the worst place on Earth, and B) doesn't come close to representing the entire state of Pennsylvania. In a given day, 500 times as many Pennsylvanians are scraping possums off the motorway to add volume to their scrapple as are standing in line with the tourists [to have a Philly cheesesteak].
29. Corndog (Iowa)
30. Cedar-plank salmon (Washington)
31. Cowboy cookies (Colorado)
"The cowboy cookie is a chocolate-chip cookie to which someone wisely added rolled oats and shredded coconut, and to which someone else very stupidly added chopped pecans . . .. Neither pecans nor coconuts nor oats come from Colorado. Nor does chocolate. Nor do cowboys, really. You know what does come from Colorado? Confused looks and shrugged shoulders when you ask people what their state's signature foodstuff is. This is because, at any given time, 102 percent of the people in Colorado are vacationing Californians in bubble-vests and hiking boots."
32. Mud pie (Mississippi)
"This is essentially a pile of brownie dough floating in a gallon of chocolate syrup. It is delicious. Let's take this moment to remember that Mississippi leads the nation in adult diabetes."
33. Bratwurst (Wisconsin)
34. Virginia ham (Virginia)
36. Half-smoke (District of Columbia)
"For those not familiar with the culture of our nation's capital, the half-smoke is a hot dog. Yes, it is. Sometimes it can be half beef and half pork; sometimes it can be smoked. Most often it is a steamed beef frank with some very lousy chili slopped over it."
37. Chicken-fried steak (Wyoming)
38. Finger steaks (Idaho)
39. Hamburger casserole (Kansas)
40. Hotdish (Minnesota)
41. Michigan pasty (Michigan)
42. Chislic (South Dakota)
"Picture a kebab. Can you picture a kebab? Meat, veggies, skewer, maybe some cucumber dressing and tasty pita bread or naan on the side? Fresh and flavorful and varied and exciting? Got it? OK. Now, eradicate that appetizing image from your mind, and replace it with a bunch of small cubes of greasy, chewy beef on toothpicks, sitting on a sad plate next to some plastic-wrapped packets of saltines. Congratulations. You have now pictured chislic."
43. Green Jell-O with *&%#!@*# carrots in it (Utah)
44. Lutefisk (North Dakota)
45. Salt water taffy (New Jersey)
46. Handheld meat pies (Nebraska)
"These are homemade Hot Pockets. They are homemade Hot Pockets, and they are what pass for regional culture in Nebraska."
47. Akutaq (Alaska)
"Alaska's putrid mixture of whipped fat (usually vegetable shortening; traditionally blubber) and berries."
48. Boiled dinner (New Hampshire)
49. Not having any authentic local culture to speak of (Nevada)
50. A *&%#!@*# steamed *&%#!@*# cheeseburger (Connecticut)
The source for this Tuesday List is Deadspin: The Great American Menu: Foods Of The States, Ranked And Mapped. Deadspin and its related sites frequently contain interesting articles, but some language of writers and commenters, and the topics of some articles on related sites, are often NSFW or simply not recommended for a significant percentage of FReepers. However, Deadspin is one of many excellent sources of lists and a unique source of out-of-the-ordinary sports news.
Where Deadspin comments have been used, many have been edited.
I do not want to live in a world in which chicken-fried steak (Wyoming), lobster rolls (Maine), fried okra (Oklahoma), Texas-style barbecue brisket (Texas), Kansas City-style ribs (Missouri), Memphis-style ribs (Tennessee), Pulled pork barbecue (North Carolina), and Bratwurst (Wisconsin) are not among the Top 12. Begone Illinois, South Carolina, California, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Rhode Island, Kentucky.
I love Chicago. I lived there briefly as a small child. I visit Chicago, alone or with my family, frequently - its the headquarters of the AMA, the American Hospital Association, the American Health Lawyers Association, and the now-defunct American Academy of Hospital Attorneys. Ive eaten enough deep-dish pizza to feed Michelle Obama for a year. When Im in Chicago and nobody else is paying for my meal at Mike Ditkas Restaurant, I eat Filipino. Chicago has a large Filipino population. Filipino food? Think a fusion of Asian, French, and Spanish cuisine. A. Mazing.
I wholeheartedly endorse placing Cincinnati chili (Ohio) at #52, behind Nevadas empty plate and #51, Getting Hit by a Car, based on four client-initiated meals at Skyline Chili.
“Lobster roll” is only “good”?
You’ve got to have a real lobster roll.
Something great in Maryland ping..
Yes, Maryland crab cakes are great! I’ve had a lobster roll in Maine.. fabulous. Parents were from PA.. so I adore scrapple (yeah, I know what’s in it.. I still love it). Thanks for posting, Scoutmaster.
I had one in Maine, Fido.. I’d eat it every day if I could.
Ridiculous to say hawaii’s contribution is spam eggs and rice.
They could have picked poke, kalua pig, lau lau, mochi ice cream, shaved ice, haupia, macadamia nut cream pie, all sorts of things.
"These are homemade Hot Pockets. They are homemade Hot Pockets, and they are what pass for regional culture in Nebraska."
Obviously the writer of this article never had a Decent Runza...
I have no idea how they matched WV with a slaw dog. I’ve never seen that. Hot dogs here are plain vanilla. Generally it’s a bland, to my taste, chilli, onions and mustard and ketchup as preferred.
The real WV originated food is the pepperoni roll. Those were invented here and the good ones are something to write home about. Ramps, in season, aren’t limited to WV. They are still the centerpiece of community get togethers and the bane of school teachers when a student shows up the next day after partaking. Locomotive breath is milder.
In New Hampshire, we have "poutine", a French Canadian dish consisting of french fries topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds.
It tastes almost as good as it sounds.
All things considered, I'd rather eat in Texas.
Maryland crab cakes, crab soup, steamed shrimp, and steamed crabs, are about as good as it gets. But like everything else on this list, you need to know the right place to go to get them.
oh i forgot malasadas. Yeah it’s portuguese, but lot of these on list are foreign origin.
Michigan Pasties are good but I would say the Coney dog is a far better known Michigan native and would rank much higher.
In Panama we called that an empanada!
Obviously never been to any of the fine Basque eateries in NV (not in LV).
I had to read the list twice before I was going off on the author for listing “lobster roll” as “good”. But the other like-minded Freepers got there first, thank God.
Mississippi Mud? I don’t recall ever having Missippi Mud growing up. I once had something that resembled it at a restaurant in Tuscaloosa when I was in college. But my mother never made it. I mean, when I think of mud in Missippi, it isn’t the color of a brownie. It is red clay. I am not sure what food I associate with Missippi, but it has to be fried and have gravy involved. Hmm.
I don’t see moon pies on the list.
Precisely! And think of how much fun the writer could have had with the proper name, “Runza”...
How could Wyoming get chicken fried steak? That is a Texas dish!
How come no body got fried chicken? Too universal?
I had the displeasure of having to have a taste of Lutefisk. I can only describe as Fish Gelatin.
New York and Chicago are known for their hot dogs too.
California — Roberto’s #99 Carna Asada Burrito.
That is the opinion of the list’s author. Notice I said in #2 I don’t want to live in a world in which the lobster roll is not in the Top 12. The lobster roll is a Great in my world.
I love Cincinnati chile. Skyline all the way.
1. Pecan smoked brisket. Texas
2. Bratwurst. Wisconsin
3. Crabcakes. Maryland
All three can knock your socks off. And numbers one and two are a very tight race, neck to neck at the wire.
“Obviously never been to any of the fine Basque eateries in NV (not in LV).”
Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing
IMHO, the best hot dogs in North America come from street vendors in Toronto. Your choice of several different buns, many different dogs and sausages, every possible condiment, and you can pay with loonies.
Chicago deep-dish pizza #1? Obviously the author has no respect for at least a majority of tastes. Certainly he is aware that most people simply cannot “stomach” deep-dish pizza? Or is he daft?
In Colorado we’ve been eating marijuana brownies since the ‘60’s...and they’re enjoying a BIG resurgence recently...though not by me!
My wife is from near Cincinnati. She likes Cincinnati chili which being a Texan I tell her ain’t chili and ain’t spaghetti sauce neither, something in the middle maybe. They serve it on spaghetti and it’s a lot better than some of the stuff higher on the list. I get a little tired of Texas being saddled with brisket as it’s food of choice. Yeah we eat it a lot but it’s not the best food we have. Still I enjoyed the list as I have spent at least a little time in most states. At least Hawaii didn’t get stuck with poi, incidentally the first 3 letters in poison.
Ditto on the writer’s FAIL on properly understanding the Runza and its cousins. I don’t get to Nebraska all that often but I do like to get a Runza when I’m there. I might even try making some soon.
We lived in New Mexico, and I LOVE the food there. New Mexico enchiladas are my favorite though I do love enchiladas from Mi Niditos in Tucson as well. I never had a great love for chimichangas in Tucson, but my oldest son and my hubby do love carne seca chimis from a few restaurants. Hubby likes them with sauce, Mexican cheese, and lettuces and tomatoes all over the top. Son doesn’t like the added gunk. But he is in heaven with a good chimi on his plate. We went to a Mexican restaurant in Alabama recently, and son ordered a chimi. He was sickened with how they ruined it with their white Velveeta like cheese and other yuck on top. He was sooo sad. Lol. He learned quickly that Sonoran Mexicans are not the same as the Mexicans in Alabama. Well duh. Just like Americans from the Northeast don’t cook the same as Americans from the Southeast. :-)
My other favorite food in New Mexico is the sopapilla. It is not the same anywhere else. And sopapilla a are served before or during your meal at restaurants in Albuquerque. Mmm Mmm Mmm.
"The Mission-style burrito is especially great because, nowadays, you don't have to go all the way to California to get a good one. In fact, you can even leave California at 125 miles per hour, screaming and crying because your organ systems are rightly rejecting the state of California like a grafted-on walrus tail because California is awful, and still get a tasty Mission-style burrito pretty much wherever you end up! This is because a Mission-style burrito is just a really . . . large burrito with extra rice and [deleted] in it. Mmmmmmmm."
You insult Pennsylvanians sir!
Anyone true Pennsylvanian knows that the definitive Pennsylvania food item is Wet Bottom Sho-Fly Pie!
We have a basque restaurant in Bakersfield Ca that all the stars from Hollywood eat at when they are passing through. Check out Woolgrowers website.
People from other places have no idea what Basque food even is. When I have relatives come from back east we always take them there to eat.
Their Foodspin archive is worth a bookmark as well.
Minnesota - Fresh, still flopping in the pan, fried in bacon grease on the shore walleye.
You need to go to Rawley’s in Fairfield CT. Little red house on the Post Road that was converted to a carry out dive sometime after WWII.
Their specialty is deep fried hot dogs. Blows away pretty much every other dog on the planet.
Star Hotel or Nevada Dinnerhouse in Elko will do nicely, thank you. Lamb chops along with the salad, soup, biscuits, spaghetti that is served before. Sweetbreads are good as well. That is a real Nevada feast.
Hawaii consumes more Spam per capita than any other state. McDonald's and Burger King both serve Spam in Hawaii.
Spam+Hawaii? Let me Google that for you.
Yes. It. Is.
20. Texas-style barbecue brisket (Texas)
“Beyond the smoky tastiness of all barbecue, the virtues of the Texas-style barbecue brisket are as follows: It is very large. The end.”
If you have a BBQ brisket that has a smoky taste, you are doing it wrong.
The only MM I know of is an Ice cream bar similar to an Ice Cream Sandwich but a lot thicker.
" In last night's Blue Jays-Twins game, three Toronto relievers combined to bring you this disgusting eighth inning: walk, walk, sac bunt, walk, wild pitch, walk and wild pitch, stolen base, walk and wild pitch, stolen base, walk, walk, single, walk, strikeout, groundout. It was remarkable, really.
If you're keeping score, that's six runs on one hit, with eight walks sprinkled in. The 12 batters that came to the plate swung a total of 10 times. Of the seven times ball met bat in the inning, three were on bunt attempts.
I read that and it is completely inaccurate. You won’t find anything matching this description at Roberto’s or any of the other “to’s” in SoCal.
Agreed with a large number of them....Only gripe is with the Colorado dish...NEVER would a chocolate chip cookie be the signature dish. A true Coloradoan will tell you that the signature dish is a black and blue steak....Colorado raised of course and dry aged before cooking (that’s grilling to the rest of the world)
Funny how in one state they are called pasty and in another they are hand held meat pies....difference between Welsh and German heritage I guess
The Chicago deep dish meat and cheese pie is good, but does not deserve to either be called “pizza’ or be #1 on this list. Also, NC BBQ over STL or Memphis? Ridiculous.
The pork tenderloin from Indiana is also under-rated. It’s a “never miss” item for me when I’m out that way.
Ugh—Chicago-style pizza at #1, over the likes of crab cakes and jumbo?
Then a Maine lobster roll all the way down at #24, just below Hawaii’s spam breakfast and above Montana’s bull testicles?
What kind of heathen dared take on the task of this list without, apparently, sufficient tatebuds to differentiate between hot dogs at #11 and the first barbeque dish pulling up at #13?
Say the name "Kentucky" to anyone anywhere in the world and unless they're aboriginal pygmies living on grubs and monkey droppings in the rain forest they will respond with "fried chicken".
The real thing, not the pressure cooked grease balls the Colonel has made so world famous, has two not-so-secret herbs and spices, salt and pepper, brined chicken double flour coated, fried in lard in a cast iron skillet. The aroma alone tells everyone within a mile of the kitchen that dinner's a'cookin'.
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