50 Weird American Foods Ranked By State

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Written by: Dan Perichino | August 07

Have you tried your own home state’s unusual dish? You may (or may not) want to.

If you’re expecting Maine’s unusual food to be a lobster roll, think again.

Here’s a list of the 50 states and some of their dishes that aren’t quite well known to outsiders, but will leave you saying “Yum” or “Yikes”:


1. Alabama: Kool-Aid Pickles

Might as well start this off with a WTF, right? Kool-Aid pickles are quite literally pickles that have been soaked, sweetened and colored by being put in a jar of Kool-Aid… and yes, you can choose the flavor. You can usually find these “treats” at Alabama baseball parks.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Cheeseburger with Peanut Butter from Shawn’s House of Burgers and Eatery in Orange Beach


2. Alaska: Reindeer Pizza

Flickr / Bauke Karel

Flickr / Bauke Karel

I bet you can guess which state has the highest percentage of coal in their stockings every year. But seriously, this is probably the most delicious, saddest combination of anything ever.

Find a recipe here. 

Runner Up: Akutaq (Eskimo Ice Cream)


3. Arizona: Rattlesnake Chili

Rattlesnake meat doesn’t taste too much like chicken, but with enough hot sauce, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. You can find this one in Texas, too!

Find a recipe here. 

Runner Up: Saguaro Cactus Fruit Jam


4. Arkansas: Chocolate Gravy


Because chocolate. You can bet next time I’m in Arkansas I’m going to find some biscuits to pair with this. This one originated for the Arkansas Ozarks.

Find a recipe here. 

Runner Up: Possum Pie


5. California: Clam Chowder Bread Bowl

Ok, so maybe this one is a bit uncommon – but as California consumes more seafood per capita than the rest of the United States, it seems appropriate to list this delicious main course of the west coast. San Francisco is jam-packed with places that serve these.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Shrimp and Crab Louis


6. Colorado: Bulldog

God, no, not an actual dog… whats wrong with you?! This is actually a delicious adult beverage that includes vodka (or tequila), milk (or half & half) and cola. Seriously, it works.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Colorado Peach Cream Pie


7. Connecticut: Steamed Cheeseburger

These burgers can be found all over central Connecticut — but the most popular offering is from Ted’s Restuarant over on Broad Street in Meriden. The burger is steamed with molten-hot cheese steamed separately and poured on top to create a delicious twist on an American classic.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Clam Pizza


8. Delaware: Scrapple

You may not want to read the complete list of ingredients for this, but I’ll give you hint: It’s basically a mixture of every leftover part of a pig, after they make the hot dogs. You can commonly find these at the Deleware State Fair. Gross.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Strawberry Pretzel Salad


9. Florida: Fried Gator

If you don’t cook it perfectly, it’s not worth it. Gator tastes kind of like chicken, except a little denser. Gator recipes are a Florida staple – also try gator etouffee.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Swamp Cabbage Anything


10. Georgia: Fried Peach Pies

Way better than those boxed pies you can buy at the has station. Add some vanilla ice cream and it’s the perfect summer treat.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Scuppernong


11. Hawaii: Poi

This is a Polynesian starch staple food that is made from the stem of the taro plant. It’s got the consistency of grits and its typically served as a side dish plain, or with salt and pepper. It has a completely unique taste, and it’s slightly sweet. Just don’t get it confused with Poi the performance art!

Find a recipe here.

Runner up: Lau Lau


12. Idaho: Marmitako (Fresh Tuna Stew)

I hope you didn’t expect to see anything with Potatoes — that would be too easy. Idaho has a very large French and Spanish influences, believe it or not, and you can find a crazy amount of Basque Restaurants around the state. Simply put, Marmitako means “from the pot”. Throw some potatoes (there we go, Idaho), garlic and veggies in it to give it the wow-factor.

Find a recipe here.

Runner UpIdaho Sunrise. Okay fine. You can have a potato dish. But it’s different.


13. Illinois: Chocolate Covered Fried Bacon with Sprinkles

As I write this listening to Illinois’ own folk-music extraordinaire, Sufjan Stevens, I wonder if he’s ever had this interesting breakfast…. dessert…. uh, whatever it counts as. You can find these bad boys at the Illinois State Fair and other places around the state. Please do not make this a habit.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Fried Kool-Aid (so apparently cooking with Kool-Aid really is a “thing” huh)


14. Indiana: Sauerkraut Balls

State Fairs, man. Yes, they’re fried. Yes, they’ve got a funny name. Yes, you should try them, because they’re amazing.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Persimmon Pudding


15. Iowa: Sweet and Crunchy Dutch Letters

Yoooo. These are legit. It’s a flakey, cripsy-crusted pastry with almond paste inside, and topped with sugar crystals. Typically, they are served in a “S”-shape, but you can make them into any letter your little heart wants — go ahead and get crazy, kids.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Steak De Burgo


16. Kansas: Zwieback Rolls

Sounds complicated, but it isn’t — this is an addictively sweet, German-inspired bread roll. Four ingredients: potato water, sugar, butter and eggs. Simple enough to have as any side dish to a Kansas family dinner.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Tumbleweed Pie


17. Kentucky: Spoonbread

Don’t tell the Colonel, but skip the fried chicken and try this savory dish instead. It’s closer to the consistency of a pudding than that of a bread, and it’s made with a base of cornmeal with only a hand-full of other ingredients. Add some veggies or cheese for some more flavor.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Bacon-wrapped Dove


18. Louisiana: Boudin

Basically, Boudin is made of all different types of sausages: French, Belgian, Austrian, the list goes on, with a whole bunch of random stuff added to it — everything from rice to seafood, pig blood to cracklins. Sounds gross, tastes delicious.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Oysters Rockefeller


19. Maine: Lobster Poutine 

Hey, I said that it wouldn’t be lobster rolls, but how can I not have lobster included with Maine? Move over Canada, poutine has moved south of the (other) border, and Maine has equipped it with it’s most popular dish. Cheese curds, gravy, french fries, lobster. Perfection.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Lobster Donut


20. Maryland: Smith Island Cake

Do you like chocolate cake? Of course you do. Do you like TEN LAYERS of yellow cake with fudge icing in between? Thought so. This is every choco-connesueir’s dream. Getting it’s name from the settlement of Smith Island in Maryland back in the 1600s, this is one ambitious dessert.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Pit Beef with Tiger Sauce


21. Massachusetts: Boston Baked Bean Ice Cream

Boston Baked Beans are a staple in Massachusetts, and this is one of those franken-foods that absolutely delivers. Well, kind of. The “baked beans” are actually a locally made candy, kind of like a peanut butter m&m. If you’re looking for a sweet, crunchy dessert, look no further.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Boston Creme Pie Strata


22. Michigan: Cherry Crumble Squares

My mother used to make these for me when I was little — I had no idea that these were inspired by Michigan’s famous cherry farms. Careful, they’re addicting… and you’ll probably finish the whole plate before you know it. They even have their own Cherry Festival!

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Cherry Phosphate Icebox Pie


23. Minnesota: Krumkake

It’s Norweigen-inspired, and kind of like a waffle cone mixed with a cookie, with powdered sugar inside it. Like the cherry squares, these require impossible amounts of will-power to stop eating. We warned you.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Lutefisk (Gross, no thanks)


24. Mississippi: Sweet Potato Pie

Just like Grandma used to make… you know, if you were raised in Mississippi. Instead of a Mississippi Mud Pie, order a lesser-known Mississippi classic like this one!

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Mississippi Cheese Straws from The Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory


25. Missouri: Toasted Ravioli

St. Louis is home of some of the best Italian food in the United States in a region of the city known as The Hill, and is home to it’s famous toasted ravioli. Instead of being boiled or baked, these delicious morsels are breaded and either toasted or fried. Bon Appétit!

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Gooey Butter Cake


26. Montana: Pemmican

Haha, this looks so gross. It’s a mixture of meat fat and protein meant to be a healthy snack. In the mood to taste some bland dog food today? Well look no further and grab some pemmican so Sparky doesn’t have to worry about you dipping your nasty human fingers in his Purina.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Huckleberry Macaroons from The Polebridge Mercantile in Polebridge, Montana


27. Nebraska: Reuben

Forget everything you know about Reubens. They did NOT come from New York. In the early 20th century, an Omaha resident named Reuben Kulakofsky put corned beef, swiss, dressing, and sauerkraut together on rye bread, then grilled it. Everything you knew was a lie.

Find a recipe here. (as if you really needed us to tell you)

Runner Up: BBQ Meatballs


28. Nevada: Chateaubriand Steak

During the gold rush, the Basque people came from the regions between France and Spain and settled in Nevada. The chateaubriand steak is made by cooking a thick piece of steak between two thinner ones, and throwing away the thinner ones when complete — giving it an evenly rare cook. I’d take a gamble on this one.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Miner food from BJ Bull Bakery in Elko, NV


29. New Hampshire: Maple Apple Cobbler

There’s nothing like going out to the apple picking fields of New Hampshire, throwing a bunch in a brown paper bag, and bringing them home. Top it off with some local maple syrup in a cobbler, and not only will it taste great, but the whole house will smell amazing.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Haddock with Cider and Applesauce


30. New Jersey: Tomato Pie

Exactly what it sounds like. Even though Philly claims to have exported this dish originally, you can find these just as much in Jersey — especially around Trenton.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Italian Hot Dogs


31. New Mexico: Native American Fry Bread

144 years ago, the United States Government forced Native Americans living in Arizona to relocate to New Mexico — a 300 mile journey now known as the “Long Walk”. Since there were no foundation of vegetables or beans that the tribes were used to, the government provided canned goods, white flour, sugar and lard. Fry bread was born.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Sopapillas


32. New York: Lobster Newburg

Originally created by Delmonico’s Restaurant, this is a creamy lobster dish that has many variations, but it’s traditionally placed on top of a freshly baked English muffin.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: The Chihuahua Hotdog from Crif Dogs, NYC


33. North Carolina: Sausage and Grits Casserole

The folks in North Carolina love their grits, and there’s plenty of ways to cook with it. Grab a Sun Drop, hop out on the front porch swing (if you have one), and taste a piece of North Carolinian pride.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Sun Drop Pound Cake


34.North Dakota: Kuchen

North Dakota has a very heavy Scandinavian and Norwegian history, but did you know that there are German influences as well? Think coffee cake — except there are so many different variations of this pastry that sometimes you might even find custard inside.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Raspeball


35. Ohio: Goetta

Almost exclusive to Cincinnati, this is a sausage, err… a mush of ground pork or beef, and grains, oats and spices. Throw it on as a side for your french toast and eggs.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Amish Cheeses


36. Oklahoma: Cowboy Caviar

Eat it as a salad, salsa or dip. This healthy bowl of goodies consists of a whole bunch of ingredients, including lime juice, vinegar, honey, black-eyed peas, beans and whole bunch of veggies.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Accara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters)


37. Oregon: Rustin Pear Galette

Oregon is famous for their pears, but this flaky pastry takes home the gold in terms of taste and presentation. Perfect for dessert after you’ve finished your Dungeness Crab sandwich.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Dungeness Crab Football Poppers


38. Pennsylvania: Hog Maw

Flickr / cthoyes
Flickr / cthoyes

Sausage, cabbage and potatos baked inside the lining of a pigs stomach. So, pretty much stuffed bacon.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Shoofly Pie


39. Rhode Island: Quahog Stuffies

Quahog clams are a staple in Rhode Island — add some bread crumbs, herbs and veggies, and you’ve made the perfect combination to put right back in the shell.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Philly Pepper Pot


40. South Carolina: Lady Baltimore Cake

It may sound like a Maryland-native dish, but Charleston is home to this southern specialty. Commonly baked with dried nuts and candied fruits, it’s perfect for after you finish that Carolina-BBQ smorgasbord.

Find the recipe here.

Runner Up: Sausage and Wadmalaw Sweet Onion Casserole


41. South Dakota: Bean Bread

It may not be Boston Baked Bean ice cream, but this one is easier to cook and can be made with all different types of beans, dill and other flavors.

Find the recipe here.

Runner Up: Rhubarb Cake


42. Tennessee: Whiskey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flickr / Jim Lukach

Mother of God these look delicious. Apparently everyone who’s ever had one says they’re better than regular chocolate chip cookies. Yes, one tablespoon of your favorite whiskey really does make all the difference.

Find the recipe here.

Runner Up: Tennessee Jam Cake


43. Texas: Frito Pie

Yeah, like actual Fritos. Grab a bag and get cooking!

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Brisket Tacos


44. Utah: Pastrami Burger

Nothing beats a burger with an egg on it. But add pastrami and you’ve made your own delicious Pile O’Sin.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Funeral Potatoes


45. Vermont: Maple Apple Rings

Can’t go wrong with Vermont maple syrup. This is a step up from the apple rings I made with my mom when I was a kid!

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Buckwheat Pancakes


46. Virginia: Applesauce Cake

This cake combines probably all of our favorite things as a kid, apple sauce and cake. So all of this combined into the shape and size of a loaf of bread? Count me in.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Williamsburg Cookies


47. Washington: Green Tea and Pea Soup

Served cold, this is one frankenfood that is surprisingly tasty and refreshing. Top it off with some roasted red peppers and cucumbers to experience this north western secret.

Find a recipe here.

Runner Up: Makhani Chicken


48. West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls

Every West Virginian grocery-shopping-soccer-mom’s favorite snack.

Find the recipe here.

Runner Up: Apple Butter


49. Wisconsin: Mooselips Pumpkin Cheesecake

You really can’t go wrong with pumpkin, cheesecake and a vague reference to the lips of a moose. This is one dessert that is sure to be delicious no matter what you call it.

Find the recipe here.

Runner Up: Badger State Muffins


50. Wyoming: Elk Burger

Bacon and blue cheese are amongst the toppings on this Bambi-burger. Wait, Bambi wasn’t an elk. This is probably just a distant cousin. A delicious distant cousin.

Find the recipe here.

Runner Up: Cow Puncher Jerky


*This article has been edited to correct Georgia’s entry.


Dan Perichino is a staff writer at Ambition.com, and is also willing to try everything on this list. Just kidding. Definitely not Lutefisk, bye. Follow Dan on twitter @yakkybeats.

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Dan Perichino

Dan is a mild-mannered millennial who enjoys Spikeball, dressing like a dad and enjoying a nice stout on the weekends. When he's not composing lifestyle tips for the Ambitious, he is often found trying to prevent his golden doodle, Banks, from bringing sticks into the house. Moreover, while his social media presence is far reaching, don't bother looking for him... he'll find you. Just kidding, follow him on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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