Taste the States: 50 Iconic American Foods from a to Z

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Despite the growing number of chain restaurants across America, regional cuisine remains as vast as our continent is wide. Some may travel far distances just for a taste of authentic, iconic state dishes, but to know the history behind their creation is another story. For instance, do you know who invented the first Philly cheesesteak? How about the California Cobb salad? We've gathered 50 dishes from 50 states to prime you about the dishes you love. Be forewarned: this slideshow will make you hungry!

  • Alabama: Fried Apple Pies: McDonald's can thank the state of Alabama for its beloved fried apple pies. It's said that fried pies originated in Alabama to use up leftover pie dough and fillings. After a hot oil bath, the pies are sprinkled with sugar.
  • Alaska: King Crab Legs With Butter: Prized Alaskan king crabs found in the Atlantic Ocean are expensive due to their scarcity and because king crab fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.
  • Arizona: Chimichangas: The Phoenix-based Macayo's restaurant chain started a petition to make the chimichanga Arizona's first recognized state food. Word has it that the chain's founder accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep fryer in 1946, and it's been a Southwestern favorite ever since. It makes sense, given the state's proximity to the Mexican state of Sonora, which is known for its wheat flour tortillas.
  • Arkansas: Chicken and Dumplings: Arkansas is known for its down-home cooking, epitomized by the most comforting of dishes: chicken and dumplings. The state cooking vessel is the Dutch oven, perfect for concocting a pot of this stick-to-your-ribs treat.
  • California: Cobb Salad: Hollywood's Brown Derby claims to be the inventor of this iconic dish and named it for the restaurant's owner, Robert Howard Cobb. A heaping salad of lettuce, tomato, avocado, egg, bacon, roast chicken, and Roquefort cheese has since been adopted throughout California and the rest of the US.


More from YumSugar: A Smoky Tour of Regional Barbecue: South Carolina


  • Colorado: Western or Denver Sandwich: In Colorado's pioneer days, eggs were rare, so settlers would bring them in by wagon, and the eggs would often spoil in the process. To cover up the bad taste, cooks would season them with onions, peppers, ham, and spices and serve them in a sandwich. The Western (sometimes known as Denver) sandwich was born.
  • Connecticut: New Haven-Style Thin-Crust Apizza: "Apizza" isn't just pizza with an extra letter: the style of Neapolitan pizza originated from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT, and features a thin crust with tomato sauce and grated Pecorino Romano cheese (mozzarella is an extra). The most popular version in this state is a white pizza topped with littleneck clams.
  • Delaware: Broiled Chicken With Sour-Milk Biscuits: Delaware's Blue Hens don't just compete in athletic endeavors: the chicken from which the mascot gets its name became popular with the debut of the broiler industry in the 1920s, and broiled chicken with sour-milk biscuits became a household dish.
  • Florida: Sandwich Cubano: The pressed Cuban sandwich featuring roasted pork, ham, pickles, and mustard has become a state icon in culturally diverse Florida.
  • Georgia: Peach Pie: Franciscan monks introduced peaches to Georgia's coast in 1571, and since then, Georgia has been famous for the sweet, fleshy fruit. Buttery, flaky, and oozing with juices, peach pie is the way to cook overly ripened fruit.

Check out our other 41 delicious state favorites here!


Related Content:
An American Food Atlas, Part VI: the Mountain West
An American Food Atlas, Part II: The South
An American Food Atlas, Part I: The East Coast



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