55 Beloved Regional Dishes From Across the U.S.

Did your favorite dish make the list?
A small sampling of our 50+ regional dish selections.
A small sampling of our 50+ regional dish selections. / CSA Images/Getty Images (map); Jackie Alpers/Getty Images (hot dog); Kativ/Getty Images (pie); Shutterstock/Ezume Images (pork roll); Wikimedia CC 1.0 rayb777 via Wikimedia Commons // CC by 2.0 (runza; image has been cropped)

The best dish from each state would be impossible to say, and determining the favorite food in each state would be nearly as difficult. But we can say that 50 dishes on this list—from ham balls to Chugwater chili—have strong fandoms in their respective states.

1. Fried Green Tomatoes // Alabama

You’re probably familiar with the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, starring Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy as Southern women who use their grit and grits to make it through life’s challenges in Alabama. In the decades since the movie was released, people have come to associate the title recipe with the South, and plenty of places in Alabama do serve up deep-fried green tomatoes, which are usually just regular red tomatoes that haven’t fully ripened. But the dish didn’t necessarily originate there.

In fact, fried green tomatoes first surfaced in cookbooks published in the Northeast and Midwest in the late 1800s, including The First Presbyterian Cookbook out of Dayton, Ohio. It also appeared in kosher cookbooks. So how did Alabama become associated with the dish? Author Fannie Flagg, who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes, often had the dish at her aunt’s café in Alabama as a kid and worked them into her novel. Thanks in large part to the book and subsequent movie, it’s now a popular tourist order.

2. Akutaq // Alaska

Most everyone loves ice cream, but sometimes vanilla is just too, well, vanilla. So why not go for a big bowl of akutaq, an Alaskan specialty sometimes made with beef tallow and ground fish? Akutaq is a Yupik word meaning “mixed together,” and the dish lives up to its name, combining fats with berries and protein, like fish or caribou. It was originally intended to nourish people out on hunting or whaling expeditions, providing enough sustenance for long trips.

There’s no one recipe for akutaq and the ingredients depend on what region of Alaska you’re in. Though nowadays you’re very likely to see vegetable shortening, it can be made with bear or reindeer fat. Some renditions even add some actual backyard snow. At one akutaq cooking competition in 1842, entrants encouraged to be creative supposedly threw in beaver meat and bird eggs.

3. The Sonoran Hot Dog // Arizona 

The Sonoran hot dog is believed to have originated, or at least become popular, in the 1980s in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, Mexico. It eventually made its way over the border. This style of hot dog takes a kitchen sink approach, wrapping the meat in bacon and then adding beans, onions, mayo, and salsa. The concoction is placed in a bolillo, a type of crusty white bread. You can find the Sonoran-style dog sold by street vendors known as dogueros in and around Tucson. And yes, you can absolutely order a Sonoran hot dog at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

4. Fried Dill Pickles // Arkansas 

Like Alabama, Arkansas is renowned for taking an unlikely vegetable and subjecting it to searing hot oil. So what’s the dill with fried pickles? Legend has it that in 1963, a drive-in owner named Bernell “Fatman” Austin wanted to try and monetize pickles for his patrons. Why pickles? Austin’s drive-in, the Duchess, was right across the street from the Atkins Pickle Company. As his son, David, put it to television network THV 11, Austin’s thinking was, “Well, there’s got to be a way to cash in on that pickle.”

Austin took pickle chips, covered them in batter, and fried them to a golden brown crisp. At 10 cents for a basket of 10, they were irresistible. Today, you can find them at bars around the country and chain restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings. Mississippi’s Hollywood Cafe also claims to be the inventor of the fried pickle. But the Austin family, which still offers Bernell’s recipe at Atkin’s annual Picklefest, claims theirs is first and best.

5. The Sushirrito // California 

Said to have originated with the Sushirrito restaurant and owner Peter Yen, the sushirrito looks like someone took a sushi roll and kept hitting the zoom-in button. Conventional sushi ingredients like tuna, rice, and seaweed are combined with guacamole or Sriracha to create a border-crossing hybrid cuisine. Yen said he came up with the idea after being bored with conventional lunch choices while working in downtown San Francisco. He wanted to combine the fast-casual convenience of a burrito place with the freshness of sushi. With his business partner Ty Mahler, he opened the first Sushirrito joint in 2011. The only asterisk? No customizing.

6. The Slopper // Colorado

The Slopper is the pride of Pueblo, Colorado. Imagine your late-night cheeseburger accidentally falls into some green chile stew—and it’s delicious. There isn’t an undisputed origin story for the Slopper on record. According to Gastro Obscura, the dish is a burger drowning in green chili, served with fries. An outfit named Gray’s Coors Tavern claims to have invented it back in the 1950s, when someone had the idea to smother a burger, instead of a hot dog, in chili. If that sounds like a lot for your stomach to process, you may be right: Locals advise newcomers trying their first Slopper to not stray too far from the bathroom.

7. Steamed Cheeseburgers // Connecticut

Connecticut boasts an unusual prep for their beef patties. Instead of grilling them, they steam them. This novel method dates back to Meriden in the early 1900s and also includes steaming the cheese until it’s molten. The result, according to one Worcester Telegram writer, is said to look like “a wet gray woolen sock on a bun.” Other advocates have declared it’s best to be drunk when trying one for the first time. Because the steam removes most of the fat from the burger, it’s definitely an acquired taste—but one Connecticut is proud of. In 2018, minor league team the Hartford Yard Goats changed their name, for one game, to the Hartford Steamed Cheeseburgers. They lost 1-3.

8. Scrapple // Delaware

We’ll let news outlet Delaware Live sum up scrapple: “Fried food a staple for some, sickening for others.” Some Pennsylvanian readers might be irritated that this dish is under Delaware, but in fairness to the First State, people there have undoubtedly embraced the dish. One Delaware brewer even created a scrapple beer using 25 pounds of the stuff.

Scrapple is pork cooked with cornmeal and flour and then turned into a bread-like loaf. German settlers, or the Pennsylvania Dutch, are generally thrifty, and weren’t keen on wasting perfectly good pork. From snouts to livers, if it’s on a pig, it’s probably in scrapple. The dish is usually found on breakfast menus, but if you attend the annual Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware, you can sample a variety of offerings throughout the day.

9. The Cuban // Florida 

What do we know about the Cuban sandwich? That it comes from Cuba—or at least, originated with Cuban immigrants. Who exactly invented the Cuban is a topic of great debate. But the sandwich, which combines seasoned pork, sweet ham, pickles, mustard, and Swiss cheese between slices of Cuban bread, has become a source of pride for Floridians.

What gives the Cuban its gastronomic power is that it’s a mixto, or mixed sandwich, which combines different but complementary meats. Most likely the sandwich came from cigar workers who emigrated from Cuba to Tampa and Key West. From the 1950s on, the sandwich evolved, with chefs sometimes adding turkey or salami and then sticking it between an iron press, or plancha, to give it a thin, crisp profile.

And what’s Cuban bread? Usually bread that’s been baked with a moist palmetto leaf on top, giving it a unique taste and signature seam. What’s between the bread depends on where you get it. In Tampa, you’ll usually find salami. In Miami, you usually won’t.

10. Peach Cobbler // Georgia

Georgia isn’t actually the top peach-producing state in the nation. Still, they grow plenty of peaches there, coming behind only California and South Carolina in annual production. All that stone fruit gave rise to the peach cobbler, a deep-dish dessert loaded with fruit, sugar, and butter.

The word cobbler probably came from European immigrants, who had recipes for peach pie but not necessarily all of the ingredients or equipment needed to make pie crust. Instead, they used whatever they could cobble together to make a delicious dessert; even today, the topping you’ll find on top of your cobbler varies. Other explanations say the word cobbler comes from an old word for a type of bowl—cobeler. There doesn’t seem to be unanimous agreement on the etymology, or on how the dish took off.

A popular story says that in the 1950s the Georgia Peach Council declared a National Peach Cobbler Day so they could move more canned peaches. It seems plausible enough, but we couldn’t find any support for it in the historical record.

What we can safely say is that peach cobbler tastes good. At the Peach Festival in Fort Valley, a 5-foot-by-11-foot cobbler is prepared using 75 gallons of peaches and 150 pounds of flour and sugar. The mixture is stirred in trash cans—but don’t worry, they wash them first.

11. Loco Moco // Hawaii 

In 1949, some teen boys wandered into Lincoln’s Grill in Hilo and asked the owner Nancy Inouye for something they could afford. She put together a burger with rice and gravy and charged the kids about 30 cents apiece. (She may have also included an egg, although some sources say that only came later.) Thus was born the loco moco, which is a bit of a curious name. While loco means “crazy” in Spanish, moco means “snot.”

12. The Ice Cream Potato // Idaho

There’s no getting around the fact that Idaho loves their tubers. The proof is in one of their favorite desserts, the ice cream potato. Despite the name, you don’t actually need to wolf down a starchy carb with your sundae. It’s just made to look like a loaded baked potato, with whipped cream often serving as the sour cream. The base of ice cream is coated in cocoa powder to make it look like a split and unskinned potato. Sometimes green sprinkles even act as the chives. It’s said to be the creation of the Westside Drive-In in Boise. 

But if you’re disappointed, the Idaho Potato Commission does have an official recipe for actual potato ice cream. You’ll need three small Yukon Idaho potatoes, cut into cubes and roasted, along with some heavy cream and other ingredients. Grab a blender and an ice cream maker and pretty soon, you’re done. 

13. The Horseshoe Sandwich // Illinois

Everyone knows Chicago is the home of the deep dish pizza, but non-Illinoisans may not have heard of the horseshoe sandwich. Even though it’s a Prairie State favorite, this beast is Texas-sized, served open-faced with two slices of bread and meat buried in a pile of French fries and a house cheese sauce.

Why horseshoe? In 1928, Springfield’s Old Leland Hotel owner Joe Schweska and his wife Elizabeth invented the platter after deciding they needed something new for their menu. It’s usually said that the cut of ham used was in the shape of a horseshoe, while the fries were the nails and the plate was the anvil.

14. Sugar Cream Pie // Indiana

Thought to have been introduced by the North Carolina Quakers in the early 1800s, sugar cream pie doesn’t take much more than cream, sugar, some cornstarch, and maybe a dash of nutmeg. The pie grew in popularity in part because it wasn’t seasonal and didn’t need any fresh fruit. The state even has a Hoosier Pie Trail that includes 21 stops, many offering their take on the sugar cream pie.

15. Ham Balls // Iowa

Everyone knows meatballs, but Iowa knows ham balls. The state is awash in pork and as a result makes the sphere-shaped meat dish using ham. They also use graham cracker crumbs instead of breadcrumbs. The treat is popular for fueling cyclists who bike in the state during Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, which is believed to be one of the longest recreational bike tours in the world.

16. Burnt Ends // Kansas

In Kansas, locals have a fondness for burnt ends, the charred, salty fringes of beef brisket. According to thekitchn.com, burnt ends took hold in the mid-20th century, when Kansas City barbeque restaurant owner Arthur Bryant had an idea. Instead of throwing away the singed ends of his briskets, he’d collect them and offer them to customers as a free snack. The burnt ends caught on, and grew even more popular when author Calvin Trillin praised them in the 1970s, though he referred to them as burned edges. But: Arthur Bryant actually operated out of Kansas City, Missouri. For what it’s worth, when USA Today ranked the top 10 burnt end spots in the two states, six were in Kansas. 

17. The Hot Brown // Kentucky

During the 1920s, the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville was, on the surface, observing Prohibition. But despite keeping up appearances, guests were still able to grab booze—and dance and party all night. As the hotel’s website says, “By the wee hours of the morning, guests would grow weary of dancing and make their way to the restaurant for a bite to eat.”

Hotel chef Fred Schmidt had the perfect answer: the hot brown. This open-faced sandwich uses Texas toast, turkey, bacon and a signature Mornay cheese sauce.

The Hot Brown proved so popular that the hotel tried a spin-off—the cold brown, which was served up in the summer and featured rye bread, turkey, and lettuce. It didn’t make quite the same impression as its more decadent counterpart. Today, Hot Browns are a popular side quest for people attending the Kentucky Derby.

18. Alligator // Louisiana

There is no shortage of classic dishes in Louisiana, from gumbo to the po’boy to the beignet. But few foods are as intriguing as alligator. The gator’s white meat, which apparently really does taste like chicken, is prepared any number of ways, from deep-fried nuggets to entire alligators roasted during tailgate parties for LSU football games.

Dining out on ‘gator is not for all palates. Several cooks serve them whole, head included, which can be disconcerting if you’re not used to your food having a face. The meat generally has to be heavily marinated, too. But locals swear by it.

19. Whoopie Pies // Maine 

Whoopie Pie
Whoopie Pie. / Rick Friedman/GettyImages

No one is exactly sure where the whoopie pie originated, with at least three states laying claim to the honor. In Pennsylvania, for example, the pie was said to have originated with the Amish, where workers would scream “whoopie!” whenever the treat was discovered in a lunch pail. Delightful, but unverifiable.

It’s thought that the whoopie pie was first commercially produced in Lewiston, Maine, circa 1925. The sugar gobs are sort of like Oreos on steroids. In the classic version, chocolate cake slices are separated by creamy vanilla filling. Maine has gone so far as to name the whoopie pie the state’s official treat. That’s a different honor than “official dessert,” by the way. In the Pine Tree State, that distinction belongs to blueberry pie.

20. Coddies // Maryland

Crabs and cod are popular in Maryland. And one of the most delicious spins on either has to be the coddie—a fried salt cod and potato cake served with saltine crackers and mustard. This peculiar sandwich was first served in the early 1900s as a way to offer a cheap and portable snack. Some restaurants offer it in place of the standard crab cake. Others mix up the recipe to include onion or mustard powder. In any form they’re perfect for Lent, and despite a downturn after the ‘70s, seem to be making a comeback.

21. Fluffernutter // Massachusetts 

The fluffernutter sandwich seems like the work of an unsupervised child. It’s two pieces of bread, peanut butter, and a helping of marshmallow fluff. That last ingredient is usually credited as originating around 1920, but it had definitely been around in some form earlier. Paul Revere’s descendants were known to make it before the commercial stuff we know today was available. At some point in the 1910s, someone had the idea of combining peanut butter with this proto-fluff, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the iconic name fluffernutter was born. Massachusetts has even deliberated making it the official state sandwich, though nothing has been decided.

22. The Boston Cooler // Michigan 

Detroit residents have a regional flavor on tap. It’s the Boston Cooler, made with soda and vanilla ice cream. While that may sound like a root beer float, it’s not. For one thing, the Cooler blends the two together instead of letting scoops of ice cream remain more or less intact. For another, Detroit uses a particular ginger ale, Vernor’s, which is a homegrown favorite.

So why is it a Boston Cooler and not a Detroit Cooler? That history is a bit murky, though some people theorize that a street named Boston Boulevard in Detroit may have played a part, or its Boston Edison Neighborhood. But the term Boston Cooler was in circulation before Vernor’s. It originally described an alcoholic beverage. Eventually the name was applied to a range of soda shop offerings, from sarsaparilla and ginger ale to root beer and cream. The Boston Cooler of today is probably a survivor of that early 20th century soda culture.

23. Tater Tot Hotdish // Minnesota 

Minnesota’s tater tot hot dish is the most popular variant on the hot dish, which is something like a casserole—but isn’t a casserole, as any Minnesotan will tell you. The hot dish debuted in 1930 and featured ground beef, tomato soup, and elbow macaroni, along with peas. The tomato soup was later switched out for cream of mushroom soup. It found the perfect partner in 1953, when Ore-Ida co-founder F. Nephi Grigg repurposed surplus potato slivers with flour and seasoning. Some people swapped out the pasta for a heaping portion of tater tots, and a beloved new carb bomb was born.

24. Comeback Sauce // Mississippi

Plenty of states are known for their famous sandwiches or desserts, but Mississippi is one of the few that can boast of a signature condiment. Comeback sauce is a catch-all dip for everything from French fries to salad to shrimp. The sauce has roots in Greek restaurants in the 1930s. The recipe is a melting pot of ingredients. Usually, you’ll find ketchup, mayo, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oil, lemon juice, and some seasoning. While you can find it on restaurant tables, it also comes bottled for retail sale. One food writer and chef, Robert St. John, called it “The offspring of the incestuous marriage of Thousand Island dressing and remoulade sauce.”

25. Gooey Butter Cake // Missouri 

As the story goes, gooey butter cake was invented in 1930s St. Louis when a German baker accidentally messed up the proportions of ingredients in a conventional cake recipe, winding up with a totally decadent and sticky mess with an oozing center. Whether that delightful mistake ever happened or not, the cake caught on. Most gooey butter cakes have a cookie-type bottom layer, a sticky, dense center, and a crunchy crust. The cake is often served up for breakfast, like a coffee cake. Many people from outside the state take one look at the cake’s somewhat undercooked appearance and think something went terribly wrong. They’re missing out.

26. Huckleberry Pie // Montana

In the words of KTVH anchor Andrew Curtis, huckleberries are “the cornerstone of every gift shop from Eureka to Ekalaka.” Which, for anyone unfamiliar with small towns in Montana, are two small towns in Montana.

The berries flourish in the cool mountainous regions of Big Sky Country, and locals make the most of their abundant supply by producing jam, candy, and countless other delicious huckleberry treats. Chief among them is huckleberry pie, a must-try for any tourist. The Huckleberry Patch, a shop in Hungry Horse, Montana—less than 10 miles from Glacier National Parkserves up some especially beloved slices.

27. Runza // Nebraska

During Catherine the Great’s 18th-century reign, she convinced some German immigrants to settle near Russia’s Volga River. She wanted their Western culture to permeate her empire—but the Germans were influenced by Russian culture, too. From the Russian pirog came the German bierock: ground beef sautéed with onions, cabbage, and spices, all sealed inside a pocket of yeast dough.

When many Volga Germans relocated to the U.S. the following century, they brought their bierock recipes, which are still popular in the Midwest today. In Nebraska, however, the bierock is known by another name: runza. It’s attributed to Sarah “Sally” Everett, a Volga German descendant who founded the first runza shop in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1949. How she came up with the name is a bit of a mystery: Some say she got it from the word krautrunz, reportedly an older German term for the dish. Others believe it came from runsa, a Low German term that described a round belly.

Whatever the case, Everett’s business—simply called “Runza”—grew into a restaurant chain that now has locations all over Nebraska and even in some neighboring states.

28. Shrimp Cocktail // Nevada

It might seem unlikely that any aquatic creature would become a desert region’s signature dish. But that hasn’t stopped shrimp cocktail from reigning supreme over the Las Vegas appetizer scene for decades. Its popularity in Sin City can be traced back to 1959, when the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino added the dish to its menu for just 50 cents a pop. The curled crustaceans came in a tulip sundae glass and were covered in a tangy concoction that contained ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and lemon.

Golden Gate commemorated the sale of its 25 millionth shrimp cocktail in 1991, which is also the year it upped the price to 99 cents. While the typical shrimp cocktail will cost you more than that these days, some places still boast a bargain. Lanai Express, in the Fremont Hotel & Casino, has sold cups of shrimp for 99 cents since 1976.

29. Apple Cider Doughnuts // New Hampshire

Apple cider doughnuts and basket of apples
Apple cider doughnuts. / Vrinda Mahesh/500px/Getty Images

Apple cider doughnuts have been around at least since 1951, when the Doughnut Corporation of America unveiled the “Sweet Cider Doughnut” as a new fall flavor. The ring-shaped goodie is often made from buttermilk batter that also features apple cider, cinnamon, and other autumnal spices. 

While you definitely don’t need to be in New Hampshire to get your hands on one, the Granite State plays host to a lot of apple orchards, many of which pride themselves on the quality of their homemade—and very fresh—apple cider doughnuts. During a harvest day event in 2021, for example, Applecrest Farm Orchards in Hampton Falls sold 15,000 of the seasonal treats.

30. Pork Roll/Taylor Ham // New Jersey

Ordering a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese in South Jersey will immediately out you as an interloper. The Garden State’s favorite smoked, cured sandwich meat is only known as Taylor ham in North Jersey. Their neighbors to the south call it “pork roll.”

The distinction dates back to 1856, when Trenton businessman John Taylor started selling a spiced mystery meat he dubbed “Taylor’s Prepared Ham.” In 1870, fellow New Jerseyan George Washington Case debuted a similar product labeled “pork roll.” Taylor actually co-opted the term pork roll in 1906, after new regulations in the Pure Food and Drug Act determined that Taylor’s Prepared Ham wasn’t ham enough to be called ham. But by that point, the nickname Taylor ham had already lodged itself in North Jersey’s lexicon—and there it remains to this day.

Nomenclature aside, New Jerseyans are united in their love for the stuff, which falls somewhere between pepperoni and Canadian bacon on the meat spectrum. It’s a staple at delis and bagel shops statewide. New Jersey native Danny DeVito calls it “Taylor ham,” by the way. He likes it on a hard roll with mustard and lettuce.

31. Christmas-Style Chile // New Mexico

Chile peppers are such an important part of New Mexican cuisine that the official state question is “Red or green?” As in: Would you prefer that dish with red or green chile?

Red chiles are just green ones that were left to ripen longer on the plant, and they’re generally a bit sweeter and earthier than their green counterparts. That said, the spice factor really comes down to plant variety and preparation method.

It’s sort of impossible to choose just one chile dish that represents New Mexico above all others. Heck, it’s hard to even pick between the two options put forth by the state question. Luckily, New Mexicans have come up with a clever third option known as “Christmas”—red and green chiles alongside one another in any single dish. For example, order an enchilada “Christmas-style” and it will come topped on half the plate with green chile sauce and the other half with red chile sauce.

32. Garbage Plate // New York

The list of famous New York City foods is endless: bagels, pizza, pastrami, cheesecake. The Empire State is no stranger to great food or to self-promotion. But take a trip upstate and you can sample Western New York’s famous—or is that infamous?—garbage plate.

The dish originated at Nick Tahou Hots, a Rochester restaurant founded by Greek immigrant Alex Tahou back in 1918. According to Tahou’s grandson—the establishment’s current owner—who’s also named Alex Tahou, the garbage plate began as “Hots & Potatoes,” a heaping pile of home fries, beans, and a hot dog all topped with mustard, onions, and meat sauce. College kids in the ’80s started asking for “the plate with all that garbage on it”—and soon enough, an epicurean icon was born.

Variations have proliferated across the region over the years, some featuring egg, macaroni salad, chili, and even grilled cheese. The name Garbage Plate is actually trademarked, so you’ll also find trash plates, junkyard plates, and even a vegan compost plate at different spots. At Nick Tahou Hots, you can pretty much order it with whatever meat you like best, from the original hot dog to sausage, chicken, fried ham, or a hamburger.

As Chuck D’Imperio, author of A Taste of Upstate New York, told The New York Times, a respectable garbage plate “looks disgusting [and] tastes heavenly.”

33. Livermush // North Carolina 

But not even New York’s garbage plate sounds as unappetizing as North Carolina’s livermush. Here’s how reporter Adam Rhew described it in an article for Eater: “Livermush … is a loaf of pork liver and meat scraps bound with cornmeal. The chilled mixture sets before it is sliced and fried. Flavored with sage and black pepper, it tastes almost like a softer, richer sausage patty.”

34. Kuchen // North Dakota

In Germany, kuchen just means “cake.” In North Dakota, however, people generally pronounce the word “KOO-gen,” and use it to refer to a specific kind of cake-pie hybrid: a sweet dough filled with custard and whatever fruit suits your fancy, from peaches to apples. It’s also often topped with cinnamon. Kuchen is common among North Dakota families whose ancestors came from Germany—sometimes by way of Russia, as was the case with Nebraska’s runza.

It’s popular in South Dakota, too, where it’s the official state dessert. 

35. Buckeyes // Ohio

In the meantime, let’s pivot to buckeyes: Ohio’s favorite, well, everything. The Buckeye State earned its nickname because it’s home to so many buckeye trees—which happens to be the state tree and the inspiration for The Ohio State University’s mascot. It’s also a beloved confection that resembles a buckeye nut: brown on the outside, with one tan spot that makes it look like a buck’s eye. 

Journalist Gail Tabor claimed to have invented buckeye candy in 1964. That Christmas, her mom gave her some chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, and Tabor tried her hand at the recipe. As she wrote in a 1983 column for The Arizona Republic, “I didn’t get the first one completely covered. I held it up on the toothpick and said to then-husband [Steve Lucas], ‘Hey, it looks like a buckeye.’”

Making buckeyes is pretty simple: You basically mix powdered sugar with butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and a little salt, roll it into balls, chill them down, dip them in melted chocolate, and chill again. Best enjoyed while watching Ohio State’s football team pummel Michigan’s. Or as a consolation prize if the game goes the other way.

36. Calf Fries // Oklahoma

In 1979, Vinita, Oklahoma, began hosting the so-called World’s Largest Calf Fry Festival & Cook-Off. It featured rides, music, arts and crafts—everything a good festival should have. And, of course, some 2000 pounds of calf testicles.

As the name suggests, calf fries are battered and fried calf meat. A very particular cut of meat. Grimace-worthy as it seems, this time-honored cowboy tradition is great for sustainability; otherwise, the perfectly edible remnants of neutered bulls would probably just end up in the trash. Taste-wise, the Phoenix New Times likens the snack to “beefy, mild liver meatballs.” 

37. Marionberry Pie // Oregon 

The marionberry is to Oregonians what the huckleberry is to Montanans. In other words, a great reason to make a pie. Marionberry pie recipes often include lemon juice, which helps bring out the fruit’s natural tartness.

Strictly speaking, the marionberry is a type of blackberry—a cross between two particular varieties, both of which are themselves crossbreeds. It was created at Oregon State University in the 1940s and further developed in Marion County, hence the name.

38. Shoofly pie // Pennsylvania

You won’t find any fruit in Pennsylvania’s shoofly pie, but you will find plenty of molasses—plus cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar, all encased in a flaky crust. It’s generally agreed that the baked good is Pennsylvania Dutch in origin, though nobody’s quite sure how the name came to be. 

According to Jonathan Deutsch’s book We Eat What? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Unusual Foods in the United States, “Folklore says the name ‘shoofly pie’ is because as it cooled, small puddles of molasses would form on the top of the pie, resembling flies.” But it could’ve just been because that molasses attracted actual flies. It’s also been suggested that the title was inspired by Shoofly the Boxing Mule, a touring circus animal that was famous in the Keystone State in the 19th century. 

The dessert also reportedly didn’t begin as a dessert at all, but a breakfast item that you’d enjoy with coffee. 

39. Stuffies // Rhode Island 

If you’re hoping to make a slightly seafood-averse friend fall in love with clams, Rhode Island stuffies are the way to go. It’s short for stuffed clams, so you can probably guess where this is going.

First, you get yourself a bunch of large quahog clams and chop them up. Then, you cook the meat with a bunch of mix-ins—which usually includes breadcrumbs, butter, onion, celery, bell pepper, maybe some sausage or bacon, a little Worcestershire sauce and paprika, and so on. Spoon the concoction back into the shells, bake, and serve. 

40. Charleston Red Rice // South Carolina

The Gullah Geechee people of the Atlantic Coast’s Sea Islands descend from Africans who were once enslaved there. As the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission explains, “The nature of their enslavement on isolated island and coastal plantations created a unique culture with deep African retentions that are clearly visible in the Gullah Geechee people’s distinctive arts, crafts, foodways, music, and language.”

Because of the expertise of enslaved West Africans, rice became a key crop and pivotal ingredient in the region. One dish still embraced throughout South Carolina’s Lowcountry today is red rice—sometimes called Charleston red rice. 

Similar to jollof rice and jambalaya, red rice features long-grain white rice, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and an array of seasonings. It also typically includes beef or pork sausage. Gullah Geechee Home Cooking author Emily Meggett described it as “a beautiful, earthy one-pot rice dish that borrows from the traditions of my African ancestors.” 

41. Chislic // South Dakota

No trip to South Dakota is complete without chislic. Well, unless you’re a vegetarian. Chislic is, in two words, cubed meat—often fried mutton or lamb served on a skewer, but there are plenty of variations when it comes to cooking style, serving style, and type of meat. 

John Hoellwarth reportedly introduced chislic to the Midwest when he emigrated from Crimea in the 1870s. If you really want to get to the center of the chislic universe, head to the tiny town of Freeman in Southeastern South Dakota—the so-called chislic capital of America. Unsurprisingly, they have a chislic festival every summer.

42. Apple Stack Cake // Tennessee 

The apple stack cake has long been a popular dessert for holidays and other special occasions throughout Appalachia. Though its origins are unclear, the reason for its early popularity is easier to discern. In his book Appalachian Home Cooking, Mark F. Sohn explains that the key ingredients were a combination of homegrown farm products—apples, lard, sorghum, buttermilk, and eggs—and other easily attainable staples, like flour and baking soda.

The cake layers were sort of a cross between a cookie and a pancake. For the filling, bakers came up with a spiced concoction that seemed to contain whatever apple items they had on hand, from apple butter or applesauce to dried apples mixed with apple cider. You’re supposed to let the cake rest for at least a day before eating it, so the filling has time to seep into the cake. I would … have trouble with that.

43. Frito Pie // Texas 

Nobody knows for sure whom to credit with the invention of Frito pie: originally a dynamite fusion of chili, cheese, and Fritos (among other ingredients) baked in layers. But people were definitely eating some version of the dish in the 1940s, and by the 1950s it had landed in the Texas school lunch circuit.

The Lone Star State may deserve credit for divorcing Frito pie from the confines of a casserole dish. That happened in the 1960s, after Frito-Lay ditched paper bags in favor of cellophane ones—which would hold up well if you, say, slit the bag open and poured a bunch of chili and cheese on top of the Fritos. The portable snack became a mainstay of football concession stands across Texas and, eventually, beyond.

44. Funeral Potatoes // Utah 

Funeral potatoes
Funeral potatoes. / Brent Hofacker/500px/Getty Images

Devout Mormons aren’t supposed to have alcohol, coffee, or sex outside of marriage. But they can have something that might be better than all three: funeral potatoes, the ultimate comfort food and an absolute disaster for dairy-free folks. In addition to cubed or shredded potatoes, typical recipes also call for butter, sour cream, various cheeses, condensed cream of chicken soup, and onion—all piled in a casserole dish and topped with Corn Flakes.

Funeral potatoes aren’t just served at funerals or Mormon functions. In fact, the dish is so quintessentially Utahn that when the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City in 2002, one of the collectible pins depicted a casserole dish full of funeral potatoes.

45. Sugar on Snow // Vermont 

Vermont’s favorite wintry delicacy requires just two ingredients, both of which the state has in spades: maple syrup and snow. All you have to do is heat the syrup to a certain temperature and pour it on fresh snow, which will quickly thicken the syrup to a taffy-like consistency. You can then roll it up on the end of a fork or spoon and enjoy. This aptly named “sugar on snow” is a more socially acceptable way to ingest maple syrup than drinking it straight from the jug.

46. Brunswick Stew // Virginia 

The provenance of Brunswick stew has been hotly debated. Brunswick, Georgia, and Brunswick County, Virginia are the two leading Brunswicks to lay claim to the savory mixture, which typically contains tomatoes, corn, and meat. In the 19th century, that meat was often squirrel or other small game, but chicken and pork are the go-to proteins in many modern recipes.

Virginians credit the dish to James Matthews, a cook who purportedly first made the stew with squirrels during an 1828 hunting excursion with Dr. Creed Haskins and company. Though historical evidence for this origin story is scant, references to Brunswick stew definitely predate 1898, which is when some Georgians allege the stew was first cooked up on St. Simons Island.

47. Aplets & Cotlets // Washington

In the early 20th century, two Armenian immigrants, Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban, bought an apple orchard in Washington state. The pair was always developing new uses for Liberty Orchards’ fruit surplus. One idea became a cherished regional candy: Aplets & Cotlets. It’s essentially an offshoot of Turkish delight, a childhood favorite of both inventors. Aplets are made with apples and walnuts, while Cotlets feature apricots and walnuts. Edmund Pevensie, eat your heart out.

48. Pepperoni Roll // West Virginia

Pepperoni roll.
Pepperoni roll. / Image Professionals GmbH/Foodcollection/Getty Images

West Virginia coal miners came up with a grab-and-go nosh that could rival the PB&J in a sack-lunch competition: the pepperoni roll, which arrived in the state courtesy of Italian immigrants. Though people have gotten creative with recipes over the years, the original one couldn’t be simpler: It’s just sticks or slices of pepperoni baked into Italian bread dough. The perfect lunch for a coal miner who needed a hearty, handheld meal that didn’t require refrigeration.

One pepperoni roll purveyor in the Mountain State claims to have been the first: Fairmont’s Country Club Bakery. It was founded in 1927 by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro, a Calabrian coal miner who reportedly invented the snack. When it caught on among other miners, Argiro put down his pickaxe for good and became a full-time baker.

49. Beer Cheese Soup // Wisconsin 

Why have beer, cheese, or soup when you can have all three together during a frigid Wisconsin winter night? Beer cheese soup, widely attributed to the state’s German immigrant population, is exactly what it sounds like: a thick blend of beer, cheddar cheese, and other soup staples like onion, chicken broth, and cream. Its medieval European precursor was beer soup, a breakfast dish typically comprising beer, bread, and whisked eggs.

50. Chugwater Chili // Wyoming 

In 1986, community members of Chugwater, Wyoming, came up with a way to bolster the economy of their tiny town of around two to three hundred residents. They bought a spice blend recipe from former state chili cook-off winner Dave Cameron and started selling it as “Chugwater Chili.”

The town didn’t exactly turn into Hershey, Pennsylvania. But Chugwater Chili has become a crucial part of the local culture, and Chugwater hosts a chili cook-off every year to celebrate its legacy. As for what’s in the Chugwater Chili spice blend, well, that’s still a secret. All we know is that there are 12 natural ingredients—all vegan and gluten-free. It’s available to order online if you’re interested in conducting your own taste-test. 

51. Mumbo/Mambo Sauce // Washington, D.C. 

To pass as a local in our nation’s capital, dip whatever you’re eating—wings, fries, egg rolls, sandwiches—in mumbo sauce. Er, mambo sauce. The condiment, known by both names, is a marriage of sorts between sweet-and-sour sauce and barbecue sauce. So it makes sense, as Tommy Werner writes for Epicurious, that it’s “as essential as napkins and to-go boxes at many of D.C.’s carry-out Chinese and soul food restaurants.”

Though some people believe mumbo sauce originated in the District, Chicago is actually more widely recognized as the birthplace: Argia B. Collins started offering what he called “mumbo sauce” at his barbecue restaurant in the 1950s, and sauce distributor Select Brands trademarked the phrase that same decade.

But even if D.C. wasn’t first on the scene, mumbo-slash-mambo sauce has become so ubiquitous there that it’s hard to associate it with any other city. 

52. Mofongo // Puerto Rico

Mofongo is a delicious encapsulation of Puerto Rico’s mixed cultural heritage. It’s made primarily from mashed green plantains, a crop that has grown on the island for centuries, along with garlic and other ingredients. That often, but not always, includes pork. The dish is thought to be influenced by fufu, a different kind of starchy mash that would’ve arrived on the island, in some form, with enslaved Africans. Today it’s a dish that incorporates African, Spanish, and Indigenous techniques and flavors.

53. Fish and fungi // U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islanders, we weren’t lying when we said we’d get to you back in our video about offbeat attractions around the United States! While “fish and fungi” might look like a delightful seafood and mushroom combination, it’s actually fish and “foon-jee” which is a cornmeal and okra side dish with long-standing historical and cultural importance on the islands.

According to The New York Times, some newer restaurants on the island are abandoning the dish because it takes a lot of prep time, but you can still find it in some restaurants and in many homes.

54. Palusami // American Samoa

Palusami is popular throughout Polynesia in various forms, but is often associated with the Samoan islands. It’s been described as a sexier creamed spinach, which is absolutely a way you can describe food.  In its most basic form, it’s taro leaves filled with coconut cream and onions, then baked.

55. Kelaguen // Northern Mariana Islands and Guam

And though the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam are politically distinct entities, both are home to kelaguen, a Chamoru dish believed to come from Filipino settlers. Some versions are similar to ceviche, using the acid of citrus juice to “cook” seafood; others involve grilling chicken and then using citrus just for its flavor. 

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