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Here they are! Introducing the 50 state dishes selected to represent each state at this year’s Flavored Nation events. The dishes were chosen through a public voting process and curated by our panel of culinary experts. More than 350,000 votes were cast by foodies across the country! Admission to Flavored Nation events includes 10 food sample tickets with the option to purchase more, plus complimentary drink samples. If you’re hungry enough, you can eat your way across America!
This year’s Flavored Nation event cities, where you can taste these delicious dishes, will be announced soon. Follow us or sign up for our email list to be the first to know.
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Unripe tomatoes are dredged in a cornmeal batter and pan-fried to perfection in kitchens throughout Alabama and the South, where tomatoes have longer growing seasons. Variations of fried green tomatoes use flour-based batters and deep-fried cooking, but the key ingredient is always a hearty slice of sour green tomato. The origins of this dish are often credited to northern states, though you are certain to find them highlighted on countless restaurant menus throughout Alabama. The most noted of these is the Irondale, Alabama, café made popular by author Fanny Flagg’s reference in the 1987 book-turned-movie that shares its name with this dish.
Reindeer sausage is a treat in Alaska, frequently served as part of a breakfast hash or hot dog-style on a bun. The sausage is made from a combination of reindeer meat, pork and beef. Popular versions are seasoned with pepper and spices often used in Polish sausage. Native to northern Europe and Russia, reindeer – a close relation to wild caribou – were brought to Alaska in the late 19th century as a solution to a post-whaling industry food shortage among natives. Today, there are around 20 reindeer herders in Western Alaska, helping provide meat and sausage to residents throughout the state.
Arizona’s version of enchiladas – noted to be different from “Tex Mex” – began gaining notoriety when the state land was ceded to the U.S. in 1848. In those days, enchiladas were made with corn tortillas, red chile sauce and humble fillings on makeshift stoves to be sold to farm hands and factory workers from roadside stands. In 1876, Arizona’s territorial governor, Anson Safford, is noted for contributing his enchilada recipe to a church cookbook. The enchiladas of today are still grounded in the use of tortillas and a red chile sauce that’s characteristically more savory and less spicy, similar to their Northern Mexico origins.
Fried Catfish is a Southern staple and a favorite dish for the people of Arkansas. Dredging catfish in cornmeal and deep frying them until they’re golden brown and crispy is the traditional method of preparation. It makes sense the dish is so popular in Arkansas, given the prevalence of the fish throughout almost all of the lakes, rivers and streams in the state. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission produces up to 1.3 million catfish each year, including about 400,000 that are a catchable size and help feed the sport.
California’s fish tacos are often made with battered and deep-fried fish layered with spicy mayonnaise, cabbage slaw and garnish, all wrapped up in a double layer of corn tortillas. The strong influence of Mexico to the south is, for sure, to be credited for contributing the tortillas to this dish that features white, flaky fish often found off the coast of Southern California. While the true origins of the fish taco are often fully credited to Baja, Mexico, some say the regional immigration of Japanese fishermen in the 1950s should be recognized due to the preparation similarities to Japanese tempura.
Rocky Mountain oysters, also known as prairie oysters, are made from bull testicles that are usually served deep-fried after being dredged in flour, salt and pepper. While there is no connection to seafood, they get their name due to the textural similarities to oyster meat. This delicacy is often served as an appetizer and is the centerpiece of community celebrations and “testicle festivals” throughout Colorado and beyond. Rocky Mountain oysters are considered cowboy food, gaining popularity in the spirit of reducing waste after ranchers dehorn, brand and castrate their herd each year.
Connecticut-style lobster rolls are known to be stuffed with warm meat, so it’s only natural that locals favor the warm, creaminess from their signature lobster mac and cheese. Dozens of restaurants throughout the state tout their variation of macaroni and cheese, but one thing remains the same – they love to finish it off with the decadence of cooked lobster retrieved for decades from the state’s coastal waters. While warmer waters have been pushing lobster away from the state’s coastline, Connecticut has a rich heritage of offshore commercial fishing that contributes greatly to the state’s economy.
Fresh-cut potatoes are cooked in peanut oil and tossed with salt before being doused in apple cider vinegar to make this dish a beachgoers dream cuisine. Fries with vinegar are synonymous with nearby Ocean City, Maryland, where these simple fries have been served in paper cups since 1929. That’s when Thrasher’s French Fries founder J.T. Thrasher introduced the concept of a single-item menu concession stand using only the best-quality potatoes. Thrasher’s popularity led to multiple locations, bringing fries with vinegar to Delaware. This dish is now a staple at the Thrasher’s location at Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach, where other vendors also sell the dish.
Key Lime Pie is an American dessert made from the juice of key limes, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk set into a traditional pie crust or graham cracker crust. The pie naturally thickens due to the chemistry of the lime juice acidity and protein from the eggs. Key Lime Pie is associated with Key West, Florida, where the signature tart key limes grow in abundance. The origin of the pie is often credited to a Floridian known simply as “Aunt Sally,” who was a hired cook for the ship salvager who was the first millionaire in Key West.
There’s no question peach cobbler is a signature dish for Georgia, known as the Peach State. In fact, the Georgia Peach Council created National Peach Cobbler Day – celebrated on April 13 – as a way to sell canned peaches in the 1950s. This dish, a makeshift version of the traditional American pie from the 1800s, gets its name from the ingredients being “cobbled” together. Sweetened peaches, often canned or preserved, go in the bottom of a dish and are covered with drop biscuits. The dessert is baked until the biscuits turn golden brown
Hawaiian Poke is a salad or appetizer made from fresh, gutted and deboned fish – traditionally skipjack or yellowfin tuna – dressed with sea salt, seaweed, onions and edible underwater plants known as limu. Inamona, made from roasted candlenuts, is also used to enhance the flavor. While poke dates back to ancient Hawaii, when fishermen would snack on cut-off pieces, it gained popularity in the 1970s. Hawaiian restaurants began popping up throughout the U.S. in the early 2010s, offering variations of poke also made with raw salmon or shellfish in combination with traditional flavor influences of Japanese and other Asian cuisine.
Finger steaks are made from cuts of steak – usually top sirloin – that are battered tempura-style and deep-fried in oil. These chicken tender-like strips are believed to have been invented in the 1950s by a Boise chef searching for a way to use leftover tenderloin scraps in his restaurant. Today, finger steaks are widely found on menus from fast-food joints to higher-end establishments – each taking liberties with their own, personalized style of batter and preparation – throughout the state most Americans more commonly associate with potato products.
It is widely believed deep-dish pizza was invented in 1943 by Italian-Americans at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago. Deep-dish pizza is baked in an oiled, round pan with the dough pressed up onto the sides to form a bowl. The thick layers of ingredients used in this style of pizza require a longer baking time. Therefore, to prevent burning, the toppings are assembled upside down, with cheese on the bottom and a layer of thick, chunky tomato sauce on top. While Pizzeria Uno co-founders Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo are credited with inventing this style, some say deep-dish pizza is the brainchild of other chefs from that time.
The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, first created at Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana, is traditionally made from a piece of pork tenderloin hammered thin with a meat mallet, then dipped in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers before being deep fried in oil. An iconic trait of the sandwich is that the diameter of the pork considerably exceeds that of the bun. It can be served with condiments such as mustard, lettuce, onions, pickles and mayonnaise.
A corn dog is a sausage, usually a hot dog, coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter on a stick. Corn dogs are often served as street food or fast food and have become a staple at summer fairs across the United States, including the Iowa State Fair (one of the nation’s largest). In 2008, during its opening ceremonies, the Iowa State Fair set a record for the most people – 8,400 – simultaneously eating corn dogs during an event called “The Corndog Chomp.”
When it comes to Kansas City-style barbecue, the burnt ends are a regional favorite. These points or ends of meat – most specifically brisket – that have been smoked and leave behind a bark that makes them crispy and full of flavor are what creates the dish. Traditionally, burnt ends are chopped in cubes and returned to the smoker to create additional bark before being served hot with a side of or topped with barbecue sauce. This delicacy is readily found on barbecue restaurant menus throughout the northeast corner of Kansas.
Kentucky is widely known as being the world’s top producer of bourbon, the only spirit native to America. In fact, 95 percent of the global bourbon supply comes from the state, so it should be no surprise Kentucky is also known for bourbon bread pudding. Made from day-old bread that’s cubed and mixed with eggs, sugar, butter, milk and spices to create a custard, recipes for Kentucky’s style of bread pudding come in a variety of forms that often include bourbon-soaked fruits like raisins or bananas and almost always call for a bourbon sauce.
Jambalaya originated in Louisiana with strong culinary influence from West African, French and Spanish cuisines. The dish traditionally includes Louisiana long-grain rice and andouille sausage, along with a mix of pork, chicken and, less commonly, seafood like crawfish or shrimp. A key to jambalaya is the holy trinity of vegetables – onion, celery and green pepper – that are the base of many regional dishes. There are two primary styles of jambalaya, Creole and Cajun. The most notable difference in the two is the inclusion of tomatoes in the Creole version. Cajun jambalaya is most common in the south-central and southwestern parts of the state.
Historically, lobster rolls in the U.S. are most commonly associated with Maine, making the state’s “lobster salad roll” what most of us envision when thinking of the dish. The meat is cold and, in most cases, tossed with mayonnaise and celery or scallions. In New England, it’s served on a special bun called the “New England” or “Frankfurter” roll, which differs slightly from a standard hot dog bun in that the sides are flat, providing more surface area for soaking up butter before toasting.
Blue crabs are some of the most abundant crustaceans in the Chesapeake Bay, thus becoming a popular ingredient used in recipes and dishes throughout Maryland. Perhaps the most popular of these is the crab cake – a term coined in the 1930s by Crosby Gaige, a writer well-known in upscale supper clubs and cocktail lounges. He featured “Baltimore Crab Cakes” in his cookbook at the New York World’s Fair. The modern-day crab cake is made from crab meat, crackers or breadcrumbs, seasoning, eggs, milk and mayonnaise. The ingredients are carefully combined into small cakes and pan-fried, grilled or baked.
A thick chowder made from clams, potatoes, onions, sometimes salt pork and milk or cream, New England clam chowder is a distinct white color, differentiating it from other varieties, including the red, tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder. Believed to be introduced by French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers, New England clam chowder was a common food in the region by the 1700s. The dish is usually accompanied by oyster crackers, either crushed and mixed into the soup for thickener or used as a garnish. New England Clam Chowder is interchangeable with Boston Clam Chowder, and it is referenced in the 1919 The Hotel St. Francis Cookbook as “clam chowder, Boston style.”
Pasties made their way to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1840s, when experienced miners immigrated to the region to help develop mines, bringing the portable pies with them. This was before the state’s modern-day boundaries were created. The traditional mining food is a hand-held pie with crimped edges – they serve as a handle of sorts – stuffed with meat and vegetables. The popularity of the pasty grew tremendously after the Mackinac Bridge opened the Upper Peninsula to the southern part of the state in 1957. Just more than a decade later, the state’s governor declared May 24, 1968, to be Michigan Pasty Day.
While many Midwesterners are familiar with casseroles often served in church basements, these hot-out-of-the-oven delights are distinctively known as hot dish in Minnesota. The term gained popularity when homemakers and authors used it simply as a descriptive phase as early as World War I. The first recorded version of a recipe being officially called “hot dish” is from a 1930 cookbook produced in Mankato. Tater tot hot dish generally involves a mix of meat, soup and vegetables covered with a perfectly lined-up tater tot topping that is baked until it’s, well, a hot dish
Mississippi mud pie is a rich chocolate dessert made of pudding, cake, biscuits, ice cream, whipped cream, marshmallows and a cookie crust. The pie is typically built in layers and topped with chocolate syrup, pecan, almonds, marshmallows or chocolate shavings. Those who make the dessert sans-crust may refer to it as “Chocolate Lasagna” or “Mississippi mud cake.” While mud pie’s origin and naming stories vary (ranging from Jackson to Vicksburg), the cake is undoubtedly named for the dark, goopy mud found along the Mississippi River.
Whether or not it was an accident, toasted ravioli is certainly attributed to the St. Louis neighborhood known to locals as “The Hill.” The Italian neighborhood is where toasted ravioli – traditionally made from a meat-stuffed ravioli, breaded and deep fried until brown and crispy – is said to have been created when a chef accidentally dropped a ravioli into oil instead of water. While the confirmed origins of toasted ravioli remain a mystery, the dish is still served with a side of marinara at numerous Missouri establishments. Toasted ravioli is even widely available in grocery freezer sections, ready to “toast” at home.
Montana is known for its bison and is home to a National Bison Range. Similar to beef meatballs, bison meatballs use ground bison in combination with eggs, breadcrumbs and seasoning. Bison is a leaner, more tender meat that tends to have a sweeter taste. The meat is also lower in cholesterol than chicken and is known to be a great source of iron. Bison are the largest land animals in North America, weighing as much as 2,000 pounds when fully mature, and are identified by their distinct shoulder hump.
Nebraska corn farmers produce more than 1.6 billion (yes, with a “b”) bushels of corn each year, making it the third-largest corn-producing state in the country. It should be no surprise then that the number of corn-based recipes in the Cornhusker state is almost as abundant. From the state fair to county festivals and community celebrations, you can almost always find an ear of corn, cob and all, grilled or deep-fried and slathered with warm, melty butter. The deep-fried version offers a crispiness on the outside while maintaining juicy kernels that burst with flavor.
Before celebrity chefs took over Las Vegas, the city relied on cheap prime rib to drive diners into restaurants and still have enough money for gambling. The meat’s history can be traced back to The Last Frontier, the Strip’s second gambling resort (opened in 1942). For $1.50, guests could enjoy prime rib served with baked potato, salad, rolls and coffee. Prime rib is a large cut of meat from the rib section of a cow that’s extra tender and marbled with fat. It’s a versatile cut that’s served on its own, as a sandwich or salad and even as the centerpiece for holiday meals.
More than 24.5 million pounds of apples are produced each year at orchards throughout New Hampshire. Many of these establishments also serve visitors the ever-popular apple cider donuts, which get a boost of apple flavor from the use of fresh-pressed cider right from the orchards. The acidity from the cider adds tang and tenderness to the fried donuts, which can be served plain, dipped in sugar or glazed with a sweet icing. New Hampshire named apple cider the state’s official beverage in 2010, no doubt a nod to the nearly 150 apple growers around the state.
In Trenton, the capital of the Garden State, John Taylor invented a processed meat in 1856 that he called Taylor Ham. Wealthy people were having ham steak for breakfast with their eggs, and Taylor likely created America’s first processed food so less fortunate could also have meat for breakfast. When the government issued a firm definition of “ham” in 1906, Taylor’s company was forced to change the name of its product to pork roll. Throughout the state, the meat is most typically prepared by frying thin slices on a griddle and stacking it on a hard roll with a fried egg and American cheese.
A staple in New Mexico cultural cuisine, tamales date back to 1893 in the United States, when they were featured at the World’s Columbian Exposition. The word tamale is derived from the Aztec word tamalii, which translates to “wrapped food.” In New Mexico, the red chili pork tamale is a favorite, featuring a stuffing made from pork, onion, New Mexico red chile and other spices wrapped in a masa dough. Tamales are not generally made daily and have become a special occasion food for holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, when families gather together to make large batches to share.
The Anchor Bar in Buffalo is credited with serving the first wings in 1964. Proper Buffalo wings – snapped in half so they resemble tiny drumsticks – are deep-fried without breading, then slathered in a sauce made from melted butter, hot sauce and red pepper. They come served with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. During the 1970s, the recipe spread to other New York eateries like Duff’s, an early adopter that remains a favorite Buffalo wing joint. Soon after, wings went national with chains like Buffalo Wild Wings (1982) and Hooters (1983) featuring the dish at the center of their menus.
Carolina barbecue is traditionally pork shoulder, served pulled, shredded or chopped and sometimes sliced. The dish is typically prepared using a slow-cooking method – over wood in the outdoors or in a slow cooker indoors – and served with a barbecue sauce. “East Carolina” has its own special variety of sauce that’s vinegar based – watery thin, tangy, with a spicy kick. The origins of the sauce date back to British colonization along the North and South Carolina coastlines when meats would be basted with salted acidic marinades.
Rhubarb might be commonly associated with a backyard patch in the family garden, but the plant has created cause for celebration and proclamation in North Dakota. In 2018, the governor declared the first Sunday in June as Celebrate Rhubarb Day in North Dakota, specifically in the city of Vermillion. That’s where the annual Rhubarb Day celebration brings together home cooks to share their favorite rhubarb fare in a friendly contest. Among the most popular of recipes is the strawberry rhubarb pie, made with a crispy crust and a sweetened filling that takes advantage of the stalk of the rhubarb plant.
Cincinnati Chili is made from ground beef, water, tomato paste and a variety of Mediterranean spices, including cumin, nutmeg and bay leaf. Home cooks are known to add unsweetened dark chocolate. It is often served atop a bed of spaghetti or on hot dogs, known as coneys. The dish was developed by Greek restaurateurs in the 1920s in an attempt to expand their customer base. Cincinnati chili is frequently topped with beans, cheese or onions – in a variety of combinations known as “ways” – and is rarely served in a bowl.
Countless roadside diners along Route 66 through Oklahoma feature chicken fried steak. Residents of the state take this dish – often swimming under a pond of peppery gravy – so seriously the legislature included it as part of the Official Oklahoma State Meal back in 1988. While the origins of the dish are difficult to track, many connect it to German immigrants coming to the region because of the similarities of chicken fried steak and schnitzel. Chicken fried steak, which is most often made with breaded cube steak, gets its name because it is prepared like fried chicken.
The marionberry is beloved in Oregon because it was literally born and raised there. A cross between Chehalem and Olallie blackberries, the marionberry was bred at Oregon State University and named for Marion County (where the field trials took place). Dating back to the early 1900s, the public raved over the berry’s tart-yet-sweet flavor. Each year during the short July ripe season, the marionberry is consumed by Oregon’s residents – popularly used to make Marionberry Crisp using family recipes passed through the generations – and rarely shared with the rest of the country.
Philadelphia restaurants are known for using various cuts of beef – ribeye or top round are popular – to create cheesesteaks with the meat thin-sliced or chopped on the griddle with the edge of a metal spatula to break it down. The meat is then piled onto an Italian “hero” bread or like a sub sandwich and traditionally topped with Cheez Whiz and sautéed onions. Some cheesesteak aficionados also add ketchup and hot pickled chili peppers. Brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri are credited with inventing the sandwich in 1930 at their Philadelphia hot dog stand.
Rhode Islanders are serious about johnnycakes, traditionally made from fine white cornmeal with salt and hot water or milk. The debate of water vs. milk as the liquid portion of the recipe lives on throughout the state, but almost everyone agrees fine white cornmeal is the key ingredient. Several festivals and fairs across Rhode Island celebrate this native food with johnnycake cooking and eating competitions. Johnnycakes, also known as journey cakes because they are known to travel well, were initially served as flatbreads on the side of a main dish. Today, they are commonly eaten for breakfast with maple syrup.
Fresh shrimp served on a bed of simmered milled corn has long been a staple in Lowcountry South Carolina. Convenient for the shrimpers along the South Carolina coast, shrimp and grits (also known as shrimps and hominy) started as a simple breakfast food. In the 1990s, the chef at Magnolia’s restaurant in Charleston elevated the dish to fine dining levels, and it quickly became synonymous with the city. Today, there are dozens of shrimp and grits iterations all across the South that incorporate sausage and other ingredients into the mix.
South Dakota claims to be the pheasant hunting capital of the world, due to the popularity of the sport throughout the state. Introduced in the early 1900s, pheasants thrive in the state’s landscape – featuring fields of grass, farmland, wetlands and shelterbelts. Hunters and home cooks alike serve the game birds in a variety of ways, often as chislic. This state-specific preparation involves cubing the meat before frying it in oil. Once the meat is fried, it is left to cool on a bed of paper towels, where it is flavored with seasoning salt.
Tennessee’s hot chicken was meant to be a punishment, but it ended up becoming a state favorite more than 80 years ago. Legend has it that womanizer Thornton Prince came home too late on a Saturday night in the 1930s and was served a spiced-up version of his favorite meal as punishment on Sunday. He ended up liking the hotter version so much, Prince shared it with friends and later opened a chicken shack to sell hot chicken. The family business is still going strong, now as Prince’s Hot Chicken, where fried chicken is amped up with a cayenne-heavy seasoning available in various levels of heat.
Texas is known for some of the best brisket in the world. Seasoned with coarse salt and pepper, prime cuts of beef are cooked Texas style, which is a process of slow-smoking the meat that results in a juicy, mouthwatering brisket with dark, caramelized bark. Brisket is a cuisine Jewish people are thought to have brought with them when they began immigrating to the state in the late 1800s. The wide-spread popularity of brisket in the state today dates to the 1950s, as restaurants outside of the Jewish community started serving brisket as a menu staple
Utah has become America’s hotbed of artisanal chocolate with a growing number of bean-to-bar chocolate makers and active chocolate appreciation societies. The state’s residents are known for their love of sugar, and the continued growth of these artisanal chocolate makers – there are more than a dozen artisan brands in the state – certainly supports that claim. Chocolate has a deep, historic connection to Utah. Ceramic bowls and vessels – dating back to 780 A.D. – from a Puebloan village in Southeastern Utah have been studied by historians and tested positive for cacao residue. This is the oldest discovered evidence of chocolate use in the United States.
Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, with a staggering volume of more than 2 million gallons harvested each season. That’s almost half of the supply harvested throughout the entire country. While it’s common to see stores throughout the state selling maple candy, Maple Creemee (Vermont-speak for soft-serve ice cream) and maple-infused liquor, one of the state’s favorite treats is Vermont Maple Cream Pie. This decadent dessert incorporates a heavy pour of the natural sweetener into a custard that’s baked in a flaky pie crust and topped with sweetened cream.
Ham is a centerpiece for many American holidays, and it has deep roots in Virginia. Razorback pigs were brought to the area in the 1600s by English settlers who sold the meat to other parts of colonial America. Virginia hams are noted for their sweetness, due in part to the fact they are cut from hogs fed on peaches and peanuts. They are cured for weeks and smoked over apple and hickory wood fires before the aging process, which tends to be at least one year.
Wood plank cooking originated with the native people of the Pacific Northwest and is closely linked to the annual wild salmon migrations in Washington. Planks most often used in this cooking preparation are from native alder and cedar trees. Today, there are five salmon species – chinook, coho, chum, pink and sockeye – prevalent in the state and readily available at markets throughout the region. When the fish is cooked on a plank, moisture from the wood rises out and infuses salmon with that flavor, allowing it to gently steam while the plank provides a barrier from the heat source
Coal mining is big business in West Virginia, and the industry has been fed – quite literally – by cornbread. The humble side dish, also known as grit bread, is made from mostly shelf-stable ingredients, including stone ground cornmeal, and baked in a cast-iron pan. West Virginia cornbread is often served alongside a pot of beans. This pairing is a traditional meal coal miners would come home to eat after long days in the mines. Coal first was discovered in 1742 in the area. Even today the state is the largest U.S. producer of coal east of the Mississippi River.
Cheese curds are moist pieces of curdled milk eaten alone as a snack or used in prepared dishes. They are often served deep-fried. This Wisconsin version, often a cheddar cheese product, is referred to as “squeaky cheese” and requires about 10 pounds of fresh pasteurized milk to produce 1 pound of curds. After the milk clots, it is cut into cubes, resulting in a mixture of whey and curd. That mixture is cooked and pressed to release the whey, resulting in the final form of curds. Wisconsin produces more than 2 billion pounds of cheese annually, making it the largest cheese producer in the United States.
More than 110,000 elk are estimated to live in Wyoming, a state known for the sport of hunting these large iconic mammals. It should be no surprise then that elk burgers are popular at restaurants and dining establishments around the state. Elk burgers are generally prepared like a traditional beef hamburger – cooked rare to medium rare with light seasoning – and have a similar taste, though they boast more health benefits. When compared to beef, elk is naturally lower in fat and cholesterol while having higher amounts of protein.
*Dishes Subject to Change
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