Nuts, Fish, Fruits: The Official State Foods

The U.S. is one of the world's largest producers of food, with major livestock and crops that include corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, beef, dairy, chicken, pork, and seafood.

Like everyone, Americans love to eat. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, celebrating harvest and bounty, when families gather and enjoy a big meal with a variety of foods.

Most of the 50 states have their favorite or iconic foods, and many have some sort of designated "official" food in one form or another. Some states have officially declared state vegetables, state fruits, state nuts, state beverages, and state snacks; Oklahoma even has a state meal.

Someone has to keep track of all those state symbols, and thankfully, State Symbols USA does just that. They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting appreciation and conservation of the country's natural, historic, and cultural treasures (not just food.) Their site provides information on all of the state and national symbols.

A few states have no particular official food or crop. They are: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Kansas, Nevada, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Arizona, Montana and Wyoming.

Hungry? Here are the U.S. states and some of their official, and unofficial, foods.

Alabama
Alabama

Alabama

  • Pecans, blackberries, Lane cake, Conecuh Ridge whiskey
Pecans are native to North America. Alabama produces an average of about 6.8 million pounds of the nuts a year.

Lane cake is a layered cake often filled with pecans, coconut, and raisins soaked in whiskey.

Photo: Shutterstock

Alaska
Alaska

Alaska

  • King salmon

This is Alaska's official state fish, but not just as a food. The salmon has important spiritual, cultural and environmental significance. It is celebrated among Native Americans and an important food supply for wildlife and forests. Alaska's bears gather at key spots as the salmon swim upstream for spawning, feasting on the fish's rich fats and drawing tourists to watch.

But the fate of the king salmon is uncertain, as its population is dwindling. Forecasts by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in 2017 projected the lowest runs on record, using historical information spanning many decades.

Photo: Shutterstock

Arkansas
Arkansas

Arkansas

  • Rice, Cynthiana grape

Arkansas ranks first among rice-producing states, accounting for more than 40% of U.S. rice production, according to the state's farm bureau. Above, a crop duster makes a pass over a rice field in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

Cynthiana grapes (Vitis aestivalis) are native to North America. They are used to produce dry red wines.

Photo: PhilipR / Shutterstock

California
California

California

  • Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans

The state's official nuts are almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans, and these are some of California's largest crops. Over a third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts are grown in California, according to the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture. Some of the other largest crops from the Golden State include: dairy products ($6.56 billion) grapes, strawberries and lettuce.

Above, a rainbow of lettuce crops in California's Salinas Valley.

Photo: Shutterstock

Delaware
Delaware

Delaware

  • Peach pie, strawberries, milk

Delaware designated peach pie as the official state dessert in 2009. Delaware was the country's leading producer of peaches for part of the nineteenth century.

Photo: Shutterstock

Florida
Florida

Florida

  • Orange juice, oranges, key lime pie, tupelo honey

Key lime pie, pictured, is named for the little limes that grow in the Florida Keys. It's made with lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk.

In case you're wondering, tupelo honey is named for the tree that grows in the southeastern part of the country. Beekeepers in Florida set beehives near the trees during bloom to produce certified tupelo honey, which has a distinct flavor.

Photo: Shutterstock

Georgia
Georgia

Georgia

  • Peanuts, grits, peaches, Vidalia onions

Peaches were introduced to Georgia in the late 1500s, and they never looked back. Although not the largest producer of peaches, (it ranks third nationally in peach production, behind California and South Carolina) Georgia produces more than forty varieties of commercial peaches, both freestone and cling, according to the University of Georgia.

As for peanuts, Georgia is the country's leader in peanut production.

Photo: Shutterstock

Idaho
Idaho

Idaho

  • Potato, huckleberry

It's hard not to think of potatoes when Idaho comes up. Idaho's rich volcanic soil, sunny days and cool nights make it ideal for growing high-quality potatoes, according to State Symbols. There's even a potato museum in Blackfoot, Idaho.

Photo: Shutterstock

Illinois
Illinois

Illinois

  • Pumpkin pie, Goldrush apple, sweet corn, popcorn

The efforts of elementary school students to propose a state vegetable to the Illinois General Assembly is how sweet corn was named the official state vegetable and grain in 2015.


Photo: Shutterstock

Kentucky
Kentucky

Kentucky

  • Blackberry
Blackberries in Kentucky are traditionally sold at farmers markets, roadside stands and at U-Pick farms, according to the Center for Crop Diversification at the University of Kentucky. They are often made into wine.

Photo: Shutterstock

Louisiana
Louisiana

Louisiana

  • Natchitoches meat pie, mayhaw and Louisiana sugar cane jelly, crawfish, gumbo, beignets

Above, beignets covered with powdered sugar are served with cafe au lait at the famous Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans' French Quarter.

Natchitoches meat pie is made in a pie shell, usually with ground beef, ground pork, onions, peppers, and garlic.

Photo: Page Light Studios / Shutterstock

Maine
Maine

Maine

  • Whoopie pie, blueberry pie, wintergreen, maple syrup, Moxie soft drink

Frosting-stuffed chocolate cookies are one of Maine's favorite comfort foods, though the recipe for whoopie pie originated with the Amish in Pennsylvania. Depending on where you eat them, they have different names, including "gobs" and "black moons."

Photo: Shutterstock

Maryland
Maryland

Maryland

  • Smith Island cake
According to Fine Cooking, the Smith Island cake, the state's official dessert, is a decadent, buttery cake layered with fudge frosting and sometimes made as tall as 15 layers.

Photo: Jane Thomas/Wikipedia

Massachusetts
Massachusetts

Massachusetts

  • Cranberry, baked navy beans, corn muffin, Boston cream donut, Boston cream pie, chocolate chip cookie
Not all food lobbyists are big ag and dairy. The cranberry became the official state berry through the efforts of a fifth-grade class. Cranberries grow in bogs or marshes. Above, farmers harvest cranberries in Wareham, Mass.

Photo: John Kropewnicki / Shutterstock

Minnesota
Minnesota

Minnesota

  • Blueberry muffin, Honeycrisp Apple, morel mushroom, wild rice

Wild rice is native to North America and grows mostly in the Great Lakes region. For many years, nearly all the wild rice produced in the world came from Minnesota, and most still does. Today, Native Americans in the region still harvest the wild rice.

Photo: Shutterstock

Missouri
Missouri

Missouri

  • Ice cream cone, black walnuts, Cynthiana Grape

The folks of St. Louis, Missouri have their claim to fame: it's the home of the first ice cream cone, according to the Library of Congress.

The first cone was introduced at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. Legend has it that when the ice cream vendor ran out of paper cups and spoons, he put the ice cream in rolled up waffles that the man in the next booth was selling.

Above, Mr. B's is a long-time ice cream shop in downtown Branson, Mo.

Photo: CJ Hanevy / Shutterstock

Nebraska
Nebraska

Nebraska

  • Kool-Aid

Yes, that's right. The artificially fruit-flavored drink powder was developed in 1927 by Edwin E. Perkins and his wife Kitty of Hastings, Neb. Hastings sponsors an annual festival -- called, of course, Kool-Aid Days -- to honor their city's claim to fame. Kool-Aid is now owned by the Kraft-Heinz Company. (KHC)
Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock

New Hampshire
New Hampshire

New Hampshire

  • Apple cider, white potato, pumpkin

There are nearly 150 apple growers in New Hampshire and more than 1,400 acres of apple orchards.

Photo: Shutterstock

New Jersey
New Jersey

New Jersey

  • Highbush blueberry

New Jersey ranks second in the nation in blueberry cultivation. The northern highbush blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, is native to eastern Canada and the eastern and southern U.S. It has significant economic influence, as well as significant muffin and pie influence.

Photo: Shutterstock

New Mexico
New Mexico

New Mexico

  • Biscochito, chiles

Biscochito is a crisp lard- or butter-based cookie, flavored with cinnamon and anise. The name comes from the Spanish bizcocho. The dough is rolled and then cut into the shape of stars or crescent moons. They are served at celebrations and holidays, especially Christmas. Biscochitos are great with hot chocolate. The cookie has a history with residents of New Mexico going back to the Spanish colonists.

Photo: Shutterstock

New York
New York

New York

  • Apples, apple muffins, milk, yogurt

According to the New York Apple Association, the state of New York grows more apple varieties than any other state. With nearly 700 growers and more than 10 million trees, New York produces enough apples each year to bake 500 million apple pies. That's more than 1.5 pies per American. So go ahead and have another slice. Above, apples at the farmers market in...the Big Apple.

Photo: Dan Jardine / Shutterstock

North Carolina
North Carolina

North Carolina

  • Sweet potatoes, Scuppernong grape, blueberries, strawberries

North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S., with more than 40% of the nation's orange tubers coming from the state.

In 2016, North Carolina harvested nearly 95,000 acres of sweet potatoes, according to the USDA.

Photo: Shutterstock

North Dakota
North Dakota

North Dakota

  • Chokecherry

Chokecherries make tasty preserves, jelly, juice, and syrup. The plant is common throughout North Dakota. Although other parts of the chokecherry, such as leaves and stems, are toxic, many wild animals including birds, rabbits and bears eat the fruit, along with us humans.

Photo: Shutterstock

Ohio
Ohio

Ohio

  • Tomatoes, tomato juice, pawpaw

Pawpaw trees are native to Ohio and other parts of the Eastern U.S. The fruits have a sweet, custard-like flavor a bit like banana or mango. They are often eaten raw, but make tasty ice cream and baked desserts. There is a three-day Pawpaw festival every year in Albany, Ohio.

Photo: Scott Bauer/USDA

Oklahoma
Oklahoma

Oklahoma

  • Watermelon, strawberries

Oklahoma has an official state meal. The dishes include fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecued pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, black-eyed peas, chicken-fried steak, strawberries and pecan pie.

Photo: Shutterstock

Oregon
Oregon

Oregon

  • Pears, hazelnuts, Pacific Golden chanterelle mushroom, brewer's yeast

Oregon produces a variety of pears including Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett and Comice. Pears grow particularly well in the Rogue River Valley and along the Columbia River near Mt. Hood.

The Pacific Golden Chanterelle is a separate species of chanterelle and unique to the Pacific northwest. It is prized among chefs.

Photo: Shutterstock

Rhode Island
Rhode Island

Rhode Island

  • Calamari, coffee milk, Rhode Island greening apple

A lot of squid is brought ashore to Rhode Island, which may be why calamari is the state's official appetizer. Rhode Islanders like it fried and typically served with hot peppers.

Coffee milk is made by mixing sugary coffee syrup with milk, kind of like you would with chocolate milk.

Photo: Shutterstock

South Carolina
South Carolina

South Carolina

  • South Carolina-grown tea, barbecue, peaches, collard greens, boiled peanuts

The first tea grown in the U.S. was in South Carolina. Direct descendants of those original plants are growing today at the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in North America, where hundreds of thousands of tea bushes grow on over 127 acres.

Photo: Shutterstock

South Dakota
South Dakota

South Dakota

  • Kuchen, fry bread

Kuchen is the German word for "cake" and comes in a variety of sweet desserts and pastries. The prairie-style kuchen described in the South Dakota Legislative manual is a pie-like pastry with a thick, cakey crust and a sweet custard-based filling.

Another version is a coffee cake-like pastry with veins and pockets of cinnamon and sugar baked throughout, as pictured here.

Photo: Shutterstock

Tennessee
Tennessee

Tennessee

  • Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a big crop in Tennessee, worth nearly $62 million a year, according to the USDA. Above, buckets of tomatoes at the Nashville farmers market.

Photo: Shutterstock

Texas
Texas

Texas

  • Pecans, Texas sweet onions, chiltepins, jalapenos, sopapillas, strudel, peach cobbler, pumpkin, chili, pan de campo, tortilla chips and salsa, prickly pear cactus, Texas red grapefruit

While the primary crops of Texas are cotton, corn, feed grains, rice and wheat, there are many other crops grown the big state, including peanuts, sunflower, sugarcane and others. This year Texas produced 8.3 million boxes of its sweet, juicy grapefruit.

If you're wondering what a Chiltepin is, according to SlowFoodUSA, it's a small, very hot and pungent chile that's widely used throughout the southwestern U.S. and grows naturally in canyons from West Texas to  southern Arizona.

Photo: Shutterstock

Utah
Utah

Utah

  • Cherries, Spanish sweet onion, sugar beet

About 2 billion cherries are harvested each year in Utah. The state is the second largest producer of tart cherries.

Photo: Shutterstock

Vermont
Vermont

Vermont

  • Maple syrup, apples

Sugarbush Farm, in Woodstock, Vt. says that Vermont produces the most maple syrup in the country. Sap tapped from each sugar maple tree produces about a quart of maple syrup in spring. Maple syrup is graded by color and intensity of maple flavor, as seen above.

Photo: Shutterstock

Virginia
Virginia

Virginia

  • George Washington rye whiskey

George Washington's venture into the rye whiskey business began at the urging of his farm manager who had been involved in the distilling industry in Scotland before immigrating to America. According to MountVernon.org, which preserves and runs Washington's Virginia estate, the nation's first president started out tentatively with the whiskey, but within two years (although after Washington's death) the distillery became the largest whiskey distillery in America at the time.

Photo: MountVernon.org

Washington
Washington

Washington

  • Apples, Walla Walla sweet onion

Grown in the rainy Walla Walla Valley of Washington state, the no-tears Walla Walla sweet onion is so sweet you can eat it like an apple, and they are best when eaten fresh.

Photo: Shutterstock

West Virginia
West Virginia

West Virginia

  • Golden Delicious apple

Anderson Mullins discovered this apple variety in Clay County in 1905, according to State Symbols USA.

Photo: Shutterstock

Wisconsin
Wisconsin

Wisconsin

  • Corn, cranberries, milk, Kringle, cheese
Kringle is a flaky, oval-shaped pastry with fruit or nut filling. Racine, Wis. is known as "The Kringle Capital of the World." Kringle is a Danish tradition brought to Wisconsin by immigrants in the 1800s.

Above, Kringle with raspberry and icing is a local favorite in Racine.

Photo: Shutterstock

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This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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