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Most Distinctive Food by State
September 2, 2014 12:25 PM   Subscribe


 
Someday the rest of the U.S. will understand what New Mexico already knows so well.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:27 PM on September 2 [18 favorites]


et tu, Vermont?
posted by threeants at 12:29 PM on September 2


Just because you can make a map, doesn't mean you should. "Dip" is a distinctive food in South Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska? And "Chip" is "weird" in MT and Utah? What's with all the ranch dressing? Come on. Crab cakes makes sense for Maryland, and cheese for Wisconsin, but a lot of the rest of this is just "Look we had some data so here is a map!!!111"
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on September 2 [26 favorites]


North Dakota has sugar. This infographic sucks ass.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:30 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


So Philly has the "hoagie", but... isn't that just another term for a sub sandwich? I grew up in South Jersey and I remember just calling anything in a torpedo roll a hoagie, not that there was anything particularly special about it (or that you would call it a "hoagie sandwich", I mean what the hell).

Same with the cheesesteak, I think. They have them up here in New England, but they're called "steak and cheese". If they're just going off of keyword terms from restaurant menus they're going to miss stuff like that.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:30 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Someday the rest of the U.S. will understand what New Mexico already knows so well.


I call shenanigans: South Dakota knows more about Chiles than California, formerly part of Mexico?

That said, I think its clear that us left coasters should form The Republic of Prawn and be done with the Ranch Dressers.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:30 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Walleye! Walleye! Walleye!
posted by Area Man at 12:30 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Well it's certainly a "graphic." After re-reading the copy itself a couple times, I'm still not entirely sure just what the "info" is.
posted by Naberius at 12:31 PM on September 2 [8 favorites]


Weird, I don't see "haterade" on there anywhere.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:32 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


"nutrient" at #2 in the West Virginia list doesn't surprise me even though I can't exactly figure out what that's coming from. I am, however, surprised that "loaf" or "brown" didn't show up.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:32 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


The West Coast calls everything a prawn. I'm not sure why this is. I don't think they actually eat all that many more shrimp/prawns than the rest of the union.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:33 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Eggplant for New York? Something is rotten in Denmark Infographicland.
posted by tommasz at 12:34 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I am going to explain "nutrient" by assuming that Southern States got mistaken for a restaurant, and they scanned some feed sack labels.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:35 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Remember stuff like this the next time someone tries to sell you the value of 'big data'.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:36 PM on September 2 [13 favorites]


Eggplant for New York?

The precise delicacy in question is the cold eggplant cutlet parmigania roll.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:36 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


No shit, New Mexico likes green chiles?! Who knew?!
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:36 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


And Arizona likes things that are "blended" I guess...
posted by dilaudid at 12:37 PM on September 2


Here's why this is silly:

For North Carolina, they've listed 'slaw'. This is not because NCers love slaw, per se. It's because slaw is the standard side or topping for the actual state dish, which is shredded pulled pork barbecue with vinegar sauce. But since none of the words that make up the sandwich are 'unique' enough to be pulled out by this algorithm, it makes it seem like we're just eating big bowls of slaw by themselves.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:38 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


I complain in every one of these X-by-state maps threads that come up about how Upstate New York is perennially shortchanged by the emphasis on (or over-emphasized importance of) New York City but HOT DAMN I am fully crediting Upstate, Western New York especially, with ranch dressing's relative unpopularity in New York State. BLEU CHEESE FOR LIFE.
posted by troika at 12:39 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I initially misread the Mississippi Distinctive Food as Pelican.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:40 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Indiana's list reads like an ideal Indy menu item: "delicious, perfect, blended, rich cheddar cheese."
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 12:40 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Nothing says "I'm not from Philly" like ordering a "hoagie sandwich."
posted by interplanetjanet at 12:43 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


"Dip?" Huh. I didn't know you could eat chewing tobacco.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:44 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Chicken Tenders? Surely with all the Dunkin' Donuts around here Massachusetts leading food is "really shitty coffee."
posted by bondcliff at 12:44 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


The precise delicacy in question is the cold eggplant cutlet parmigania roll.

For which I now have a mad craving, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:44 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Chip, Dip and Blended. These aren't foods without some sort of modifier or subject.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:44 PM on September 2


I will say this, "cheese curd" definitely belongs in Wisconsin's top 5. I would have put it at #1 personally. I would also suggest bison burgers for either Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming.
posted by desjardins at 12:45 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Alaska has bleu balls.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:46 PM on September 2


I live in Wisconsin, can confirm. I eat blocks of cheese at a time. My friend from school one night was chatting with me, and he's like, "getting some cheese, brb" then he mentioned how he just eats the block. I'm like FUCK YES WISCONSIN.

Also - What's up w/West Virginia and Ranch? If there's anything I love more than Cheese it's Chicken Bacon Ranch (and Jalapeno).
posted by symbioid at 12:47 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Of course Maryland's distinctive is crab cakes. We would also accept "Anything seasoned with Old Bay," as apparently you can't find it anywhere outside of Maryland. Man, I could go for some Utz Crab Chips right now.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:48 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


They only menu items I can think of that include the word "blended" are iced coffee drinks from Starbucks.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:49 PM on September 2


Worst. Culinary. Tour. EVER.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:51 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


tommasz: "Eggplant for New York? Something is rotten in Denmark Infographicland. Iceland (and it's Hákarl)"
posted by symbioid at 12:51 PM on September 2


"Dip" is a distinctive food in South Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska?

These aren't foods without some sort of modifier or subject.

7-layer dip in Missouri, moist snuff in Carolina, and vampiric dog in Nebraska.
posted by Iridic at 12:51 PM on September 2


2bucksplus: "They only menu items I can think of that include the word "blended" are iced coffee drinks from Starbucks."

I dunno, there's probably a lot of things that will blend.
posted by symbioid at 12:51 PM on September 2


We would also accept "Anything seasoned with Old Bay,"

I had some Old Bay-flavored beer a few weeks ago. It was actually really, really good.

Remember stuff like this the next time someone tries to sell you the value of 'big data'.

And this is pretty much it. In a "big data" sense, I suppose you might want to know which of your products are sold at a higher-than-expected rate in a given geographic area, but applied to context-free word lists like this, it's pretty silly.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:53 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand "prawn" for California - surely it would be "Jamba Juice"?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:56 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is pretty awful. If you're going to use raw frequency counts to make a point, you need to do a good job with your taxonomy, and, quibbles about grinders being a subset of hoagies aside, the submarine sandwich / hoagie / hero terms should have been conflated into one entity with a bunch of regional names.

And I say this as someone who grew up a stone's throw from Norristown, PA, home of the "zep", which they will insist is not a hoagie. If that's true, then a Big Mac is a different menu item if you order it without the lettuce.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:58 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Remember stuff like this the next time someone tries to sell you the value of 'big data'.

I am a data analyst by profession. I was at a demo for Tableau software. It is a slick drag and drop tool for creating ad hoc data visualizations or little tools you can embed in websites. It is easy to use but one thing really bothered me: idiots will do dumb shit with it. Like, "hey, did you notice that our sales improve as the murder rate in Baltimore declines?" Big data is great. So long as you have professionals working with it. Otherwise, your company is the sort that believes they are smart and saving a bundle by getting interns to do their web design and marketing.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:59 PM on September 2 [13 favorites]


The ad that was served up to me when I visited this FPP was from Mapbox, with the slogan "Create beautiful maps with Mapbox." That's some targeted advertising, right there.
posted by Runes at 1:03 PM on September 2


Washington does not list "salted caramel" your data is invalid
posted by rouftop at 1:05 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Came here for vindication that Massachusetts is the crunchy granola capital of the world. Was sorely disappointed.
posted by Melismata at 1:05 PM on September 2


"Taylor Ham" and "Pork roll" aren't in the Top 5 for New Jersey. This list is bullshit.
posted by schmod at 1:06 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


shredded pulled pork barbecue with vinegar sauce.

And now I'm hungry again.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:08 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Chocolate is Tennessee's distinctive food? I don't even know what to make of that. Well, M&Ms has a factory in Cleveland, TN but I haven't seen curve-blowing chocolate consumption amongst my neighbors. What an odd graphic.
posted by workerant at 1:08 PM on September 2


I like that "nutrient" is one of the most distinctive West Virginian foods.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:09 PM on September 2


showbiz_liz: "it makes it seem like we're just eating big bowls of slaw by themselves."

You aren't?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:10 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


the cold eggplant cutlet parmigania roll

I know those words, but that food doesn't make sense.
posted by tommasz at 1:13 PM on September 2


1. Make an eggplant cutlet.
2. Parmigianate it.
3. Put it in a roll.

NOTE: do not heat
posted by Wolfdog at 1:14 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Banana peppers?
BANANA PEPPERS??
posted by charred husk at 1:19 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


This would have been more useful if they included....well, a lot of things.....but some examples of the top terms in actual menu usage, or words often used with the top terms. Listing terms like "new," "warmed," "cooked," "cut," and "nutrient" alone tells us exactly nothing. Prep words should be separated out or discarded altogether if you're talking about uniqueness of foods. The selected individual term maps - Green Chile, Cheesesteak, Green Bell Pepper, Ranch Dressing, Pecan - are actually kind of interesting, geolinguistically speaking, I wish there were more of those.

I may have let my enthusiasm for Upstate New York cloud my critical thinking circuits for a bit.
posted by troika at 1:19 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


delicious, perfect, blended, rich cheddar cheese is fucking delicious but I would have expected breaded, pork, tenderloin, corn, fried to be there, Indiana. Gonna go have some delicious cheeses now.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:20 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


The range of Food Genius's coverage spans from Washington D.C., where the company tracks an estimated 85% of restaurants, to Alaska, from which almost all of the data comes from chain restaurants.

The source material may explain oddities of results.
posted by immlass at 1:20 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


The Montana entry is completely mystifying - "chip"? Like, a single chip? People here aren't even that into chips, at least not when compared to everywhere else in the world. If it's not going to be something ranching-related (we get the best meat and milk in the country here, I swear to god), it should at least be something that's actually distinctive. Or coherent.

To replace "chip,", I offer "cream cheese." Damn near every pizza joint in Missoula offers at least one topping combo that includes cream cheese. It about makes me puke every time I look at a pizza menu. Cream cheese on a pizza?! WHY?! Is this some twisted midwestern thing?

In conclusion, this is the worst map ever. You can't just slap a chunk of unvetted data into a choropleth and call it an infographic!
posted by dialetheia at 1:23 PM on September 2


I'm shocked that "heirloom" isn't on the Washington list of terms.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:26 PM on September 2


Of course Maryland's distinctive is crab cakes. We would also accept "Anything seasoned with Old Bay," as apparently you can't find it anywhere outside of Maryland. Man, I could go for some Utz Crab Chips right now.

Anything involving Natty Bo would be a close second.
posted by kafziel at 1:33 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


To replace "chip,", I offer "cream cheese." Damn near every pizza joint in Missoula offers at least one topping combo that includes cream cheese. It about makes me puke every time I look at a pizza menu. Cream cheese on a pizza?! WHY?! Is this some twisted midwestern thing?

Well you're hardly going to use mozzarella on a smoked salmon pizza.
posted by kafziel at 1:35 PM on September 2


we get the best meat and milk in the country here

What's up with Montana's milk anyway? It is indeed cold fresh nourishment itself.

Alaska's chart looks kind of stoned in the kitchen at 2 in the morning.
posted by batfish at 1:35 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


To triple-post, how in the world does Nebraska not have corn on there at all? It should be all five!
posted by kafziel at 1:37 PM on September 2


For North Carolina, they've listed 'slaw'. This is not because NCers love slaw, per se. It's because slaw is the standard side or topping for the actual state dish, which is shredded pulled pork barbecue with vinegar sauce. But since none of the words that make up the sandwich are 'unique' enough to be pulled out by this algorithm, it makes it seem like we're just eating big bowls of slaw by themselves.

I think it's also that NC is the epicenter of calling it slaw but the most of the country uses its full name on their menus. So "slaw" is going to seem more distinctive than if it got listed on the menu as "coleslaw."
posted by radiomayonnaise at 1:44 PM on September 2


Also, while North Carolina may not be eating giant bowls of slaw, it does have a distinct regional variety of coleslaw, so it's not crazy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:48 PM on September 2


Methodology Food Genius tracks term appearance on unique menus. So even if "bacon" appears eight times on Waffle House's menu, and there are 20 Waffle House locations in Georgia, Food Genius only increases the count for "bacon" in Georgia by one. The range of Food Genius's coverage spans from Washington D.C., where the company tracks an estimated 85% of restaurants, to Alaska, from which almost all of the data comes from chain restaurants.
posted by pwnguin at 1:51 PM on September 2


As a non-native current resident of Maryland, I have to say it: Old Bay is gross.
posted by Librarypt at 1:53 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


it does have a distinct regional variety of coleslaw

It does? As far as I can tell, the stuff I grew up loathing in NC is exactly the same thing I keep asking waitstaff to not bring me in MA. Incidentally, they understand just fine when I just say "no slaw".
posted by atbash at 1:53 PM on September 2


Crawfish, Cher! Crawfish étouffée, crawfish jambalaya, crawfish pie, seasoned, boiled crawfish with potatoes and corn dumped out on a newspaper-covered picnic table. Pinch the tails, suck the heads! Eat this whenever you find it; it is seasonal and even tastier than prawns, er, shrimp!
posted by Anitanola at 1:54 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Well, of course Wisconsin is ... cheddar cheese???

Of course! Put a potato under there, buddy.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:57 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


NC has two types of slaw, standard mayonnaise based slaw and a kind with a vinegar and ketchup based dressing (red slaw), that I haven't seen other places.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:00 PM on September 2


it makes it seem like we're just eating big bowls of slaw by themselves

In fairness, I'm pretty sure humans could subsist entirely on a diet of slaw and hush puppies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:06 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


If corn and mostaccioli aren't listed for Illinois, your data is invalid.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:07 PM on September 2


I'm going to second cheese curds as the most distinctive Wisconsin menu item, though I've seen it frequently in Minnesota and the UP as well. It has got to be only part of the United States where you can buy cheese curds as a lone item at a restaurant.
posted by jamincan at 2:25 PM on September 2


I'm half surprised scrapple didn't make the cut in PA or OH, but I guess distinctive is kind of nebulously defined. I fear five years ago 'artisan' would've made an annoying number of these lists. Should I pack meals when driving through 'ranch dressing' states or are there hidden gems?
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:31 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]




So the more variety in non-chain restaurants you have, forces many chains to avoid New England, so we're left with Friendly's, TGIFridays, IHOP, and Chili's as being representative for Massachusetts. Moreover, those shitty places basically cater to the kids menu, resulting in Chicken Tenders rising way too up on the list to make any sense here.


The more unique and unusual your state menu is with this, chances are the more varied your shitty chain restaurants are.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:00 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


> NC has two types of slaw, standard mayonnaise based slaw and a kind with a vinegar and ketchup based dressing (red slaw), that I haven't seen other places.

I remember being really confused the first time I was asked whether I wanted white slaw or red slaw. White/red slaw does appear to follow the geographic divide for eastern/western NC bbq. For example, when we ate at Stephenson's Barbecue some weekends ago, they had white slaw (and some heavenly barbecue), while Lexington Barbecue had red slaw. Of course their menus just say 'slaw.'

The place that asked me what kind of slaw I wanted was Hillsborough BBQ Company - they actually have three kinds of slaw, white, red, and yellow, which is mustard-based.
posted by research monkey at 3:51 PM on September 2


bondcliff: "Chicken Tenders? Surely with all the Dunkin' Donuts around here Massachusetts leading food is "really shitty coffee.""

The donuts are pretty awful, but I'll take DD coffee any day of the week over the overpriced burnt swill they serve at Starbucks.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:34 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I read that as, "An Ineffective Map of the Weirdest Eating Patterns in Each State." Huh.
posted by yoga at 4:45 PM on September 2


Oh god this made me so homesick I almost cried

green
chile
green chile

ARRGHH I MISS IT SO
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:57 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


--the cold eggplant cutlet parmigania roll

-I know those words, but that food doesn't make sense.


That's that thing where you get a twelve-inch eggplant parmigiana sub, eat half of it, then put the other half in the fridge and eat it cold the next day.

/New Yorgasm
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:12 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


One thing that they export is chocolate, or as South Carolinans call it, "dip". Another famous food is chips. In conclusion, America is a land of contrasts.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:42 PM on September 2


I love how the Louisiana list is: po'boy, [then every kind of po'boy], then gumbo. That's a fine list.
posted by dog food sugar at 10:21 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Georgia: grits.

I find grits disgusting, they're like some ungulate threw up.
posted by JHarris at 2:04 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


eggplant parmigiana sub hero
posted by uncleozzy at 4:51 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Mods, please add a flag for "lies slandering the good name of grits." Thank you.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:08 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


♫ Eggplant hero ... with stars in his eyes...
posted by Wolfdog at 10:01 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


You can pry my grits out of my cold, dead New York mouth.

Mom used to make the most amazing fried grits. Mmmmmmm...
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:35 AM on September 3


"Grouper" for Florida? Should be Cuban Sandwiches.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:51 PM on September 3


This post was worthwhile if only for the previously alien idea of the cold eggplant parmesan sandwich, which I am going to try at my earliest convenience. I'll try to remember to report back as to whether it is as good as it sounds or one of those weird-horrible things that people like in not-Indiana.

Of course, the perfect snack requires saltine crackers, braunschweiger and slices of sharp cheddar. You eat one cracker with cheese, another with braunschweiger. Repeat thusly until full or you run out of saltines, sausage or cheese. Serve with milk or ice-cold sweet tea.

† - My wife hates braunschweiger so much that I have to eat it when she's not home. She doesn't understand my love of kippered herring, either. Sigh.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:13 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


One more day (and change) to payday and a delicious celebratory eggplant parmigiana sub with CECPR* for Friday lunch. Oh, boy, au-bergine!

*cold eggplant cutlet parmigania roll
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:50 PM on September 9


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