Every State's Best Food!
Reader's Digest US|July - August 2019

Reader’s Digest and Taste of Home asked people across the country to pick the most delicious food in every state

Jen McCaffery


Signature dish: Chicken in WHITE SAUCE. During the 1920s, Alabamians flocked to railroad worker “Big Bob” Gibson’s backyard on the weekends for hickory-smoked chicken smothered in his own vinegar-and mayonnaise sauce. His Decatur restaurant and his chicken and white sauce are still institutions.

Who Knew? Marcel Proust had his madeleine; Alabama has the Lane cake. The layered bourbon-laced confection makes a cameo in several books, including Alabama native Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and the memoirs of former president Jimmy Carter.


Signature dish: King crab legs. “Even before the rise of Deadliest Catch, I loved king crab legs. On a dream trip to Alaska, we ordered them, and the legs were longer than my arm.” —Renee Page, Taste of Home field editor

Who Knew? Alaska is renowned for its wild salmon, but the WILD SALMONBERRIES are plenty tasty too. Be careful, though—bears also adore them. In fact, many Alaskans wear “bear bells” when they go picking to avoid surprising their large berry-loving rivals.


Signature dish: Posole, a stew made from pork shoulder and hominy. “Posole is a wonderful hearty soup that we ate with our Hispanic neighbors for New Year’s or Christmas.” —Lisa McNeil, Taste of Home reader

Who Knew? Yuma County is known as the Winter Salad Bowl. Arizona is America’s second-largest producer of lettuce, behind California.


Signature dish: Barbecue sandwiches. “It’s just like with Grandmother’s chicken soup—every family and establishment in Arkansas swears their barbecue sandwich is the real deal.” —Debbie Glasscock, Taste of Home field editor

Who Knew? Quiz: What’s the self-proclaimed EDAMAME capital of the world? A. Tokyo. B. Beijing. C. Mulberry, Arkansas. Mulberry it is! Of the top ten soybean-producing states in the United States, Arkansas is the only one not in the Midwest.


Signature dish: Fish Tacos. “Sitting at the beach, watching the sunset and the surfers, and having a fish taco. Not many other states can claim this experience.” —Kallee Krong- McCreery, Taste of Home field editor

Who Knew? FOOD TRUCKS are an urban staple today, but when Kogi BBQ hit the streets of LA in 2008, finding customers was an adventure. Kogi did it by posting its daily menu and whereabouts on Twitter. The smell of spicy, kimchi-covered Kogi Dogs helped too. “At every stop, it’ll be hundreds of young people and 12 middle-aged copycats in suits and ties asking where I buy my cabbage,” chef Roy Choi told Newsweek.


Signature dish: Green chile pork. “Colorado is one of the few states where you can find green chile. It’s on almost every menu, served alone or slathered on something. Some of my favorite memories are the smell of my family’s kitchen when my dad was making this dish with our family-raised pork.” —Crystal Jo Bruns, Taste of Home field editor

Who Knew? The FOOL’S GOLD LOAF— featuring peanut butter, blueberry jam, and a pound of bacon in a sourdough loaf— isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But when Elvis tried one in Denver, he loved it so much that he returned in his private jet to get more for daughter Lisa Marie’s eighth birthday.


Signature dish: CLAM PIE. In the 1920s, an Italian immigrant named Frank Pepe began selling pizzas with freshly shucked clams, garlic, olive oil, and grated cheese on a thin, charred crust in New Haven.

Who Knew? The first Subway sandwich shop opened in 1965 in Bridgeport, and it’s fair to say the idea was genius. That original eatery was the brainchild of a nuclear physicist named Peter Buck. Today, Subway is the biggest fast-food franchise in the United States, with more locations than McDonald’s.


Signature dish: SCRAPPLE. The ultimate mystery meat is actually made of pork scraps, cornmeal, flour, and spices. Wanna learn how to serve it? The World Championship Scrapple Recipe Cook-Off & Expo is held every year in Newark, Delaware.

Who Knew? Until the 1920s, people raised chickens primarily for the eggs. That changed in 1923 when Cecile Steele of Ocean View ordered 50 chicks for her backyard flock— but received 500 by mistake. Undeterred, the entrepreneurial Steele sold the excess birds four months later at 62 cents a pound, effectively hatching the broiler chicken industry.


Signature dish: Cuban sandwich. While most people think of Miami as the capital of Cuban American culture, Tampa claimed the Cubano as its signature sandwich in 2012. The Tampa version is a triple threat, featuring sweet ham, roast pork, and Genoa salami—and exactly three pickles.

Who Knew? During World War II, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked Florida ORANGE growers to ramp up production in order to get vitamin C to the troops. Not long after, a Florida-based company started selling a new product called Minute Maid.


Signature dish: Peach cobbler—of course. After all, this is the Peach State, home to Peach County, Peachtree City, and Peachtree Corners. (Naturally, the most popular street name in Georgia is—actually, it’s Dogwood.) .

Who Knew? Georgia is also home to a lot of KALE. It’s the number two producer (after California), as well as the birthplace of the growing health-food chain Kale Me Crazy.


Signature dish: Kalua pig. “Hawaii residents typically take the shortcut and start with pork too (kale). oranges courtesy Florida Department of the citrus butt (rather than going the whole hog) and roast it in the oven or cook it in the slow cooker until the pork is fall-apart tender. Often chopped cabbage is cooked with it. And it’s typically shredded and served over rice. I make it all the time!” —Jeanne Ambrose, former Taste of Home editor

Who Knew? Hawaii and pineapples go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? Not so much anymore. Pineapple manufacturers, including Dole, relocated their operations from Hawaii starting in the 1980s, citing rising costs. That canned pineapple you’re eating likely comes from Ecuador, Honduras, or Costa Rica.


Signature dish: Fried trout. More than 75 percent of trout in the United States is from Idaho, much of it farmed. But on one stretch of the Snake River, there are 6,000 wild rainbow trout per mile.

Who Knew? They may be synonymous with Idaho—they’re even on the state’s license plates—but POTATOES aren’t native to the state. A missionary named Henry Harmon Spalding brought them west to Lapwai in 1836 and taught members of the Nez Percé tribe how to cultivate them.


Signature dish: Deep-dish (aka not that flimsy New York City–style) pizza.

Who Knew? In 1893, the organizers of the World’s Columbian Exposition asked Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer, the wife of the owner of the Palmer House Hotel, to provide a dessert for the event. She requested that the chef at the hotel make a “ladies’ dessert” that would fit into a boxed lunch. Today we call them BROWNIES.


Signature dish: Hoosier pie, or sugar cream pie. A favorite of the Amish and Shakers who settled in Indiana, this custardy, nutmeg-dusted pie is also known as desperation pie, since it’s cheap to make.

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