You eat your favorite foods all the time, but you might be surprised that there are new things to learn about the avocado you spread on your toast and the chips you snack on with a sandwich. So many foods you love have origin stories that rival iconic superheroes. From inventive restauranteurs to the sunniest place in America, the U.S. has many incredible food moments. In fact, history could’ve been made in your hometown.
For all the food facts you never knew you needed about your go-to meals and snacks, check out our list below. (Trust us, you’re gonna want to read all the way down to Wyoming).
The official nut of Alabama is the pecan, which explains the popularity of comforting pecan pie in this southern state. It hosts a pecan festival every fall with country music, carnival rides, and a western show.
This chilly state is more than frost and snow. Berries can often be foraged out in the nature, and wild Alaskan blueberries are more nutritious than common blueberries.
Yuma County, Arizona, is the nation’s winter lettuce capital, thanks to its recognition as the “sunniest place on earth.” This county provides America with 90% of its leafy greens from November through March and hosts its own veggie festival called “City of Yuma’s Lettuce Festival” every year.
Prefer your veggies on the crispy side? The first fried dill pickle ever sold was at the Duchess Drive-In in Atkins, Arkansas, in 1963. If you’re looking to try the original, you can get your fix at the Atkins Picklefest each May.
Rolling pastures and bright skies make for happy cows. The Golden State is the United States’ #1 dairy producer, churning out tons of butter, milk, and, of course, ice cream each year. Better yet: 99% of California dairy farms are family-owned!
You’ve got the Rocky Mountain State to thank for your cookout favorite — the cheeseburger. Drive-in owner Louis E. Ballast trademarked the “cheeseburger” on March 5, 1935. He never formally enforced his trademark, and the Humpty Dumpty Barrel restaurant, where the cheeseburger was created, no longer stands, but you can find a stone carving on the side of the road that designates the site of its birth.
This state is for suckers. No, really — the lollipop was first invented in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1908 by George Smith, who enjoyed going to the races so much that he named his creation after a competitor of the time, a horse named Lolly Pop.
In 2009, the country’s first state declared peach pie its official dessert. The campaign was started by fifth and sixth graders who chose the dessert because of Delaware’s peach farming history.
Guacamole fans, rejoice. The first avocado tree in the United States was planted in Florida in 1833, making taco night in American homes infinitely better since.
Need your caffeine fix? Hawaii is one of only two U.S. states to grow coffee beans. The Kona region of the Big Island is home to over 650 coffee farms alone.
Yes, we want fries with that. While potatoes are grown in all 50 states of the U.S., Idaho remains the country’s biggest producer, harvesting about 13 billion pounds annually.
Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza isn’t an Italian export, but rather an American original. Chicago restaurant Pizza Uno first created the dish in 1943, and it has become the city’s most iconic food since.
The Hoosier State is one of the country’s biggest corn producers, harvesting 983 million bushels in 2018. The state takes great pride in its kernel production and even has a town named Popcorn.
We have found your new vacation destination, ice cream lovers. Le Mars, Iowa, was deemed the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” in 1994, and produces more ice cream from a single company, Blue Bunny, than any other city in the world.
This midwestern state harvests so much wheat in a year that its annual harvest could bake 36 billion loaves of bread — enough to feed the world’s population for about two weeks.
This state’s popular food export is no secret: Colonel Harland Sanders cooked the first batch of Kentucky Fried Chicken at Sanders Cafe in Corbin, Kentucky. The recipe has changed a few times over the years, and the first bucket of KFC chicken sold in 1957.
This state’s flavors are so intricate that it has its own cuisine. Cajun food is derived from French-speaking Acadian immigrants who came to Louisiana in the 18th century. It is known for its aromatic preparation of vegetables, rice, and seafood.
Get your butter and bibs. Maine’s lobster harvest hit an all-time high in 2016, with fishermen bringing in over 130 million pounds of the crustacean. Lobsters are harvested year round in Maine, despite extreme cold winter temperatures.
Maine’s not the only crustacean capital in the country. Maryland blue crabs are a classic Chesapeake delicacy that locals (and visitors!) enjoy steamed, sautéed, or mixed into soups and dips.
It wouldn’t be New England without a bowl of “chowdah,” and Bay Staters take their soup so seriously that one lawmaker tried to criminalize adding tomatoes to their New England clam chowder back in 1939.
If you’ve ever sipped a can of ginger ale to quell an upset stomach, you have this state to thank. The first soda — or “pop” — made in the country was Vernor’s Ginger Ale in 1866.
Pass the bread basket! This midwestern state is nicknamed the “Bread and Butter State” because of its plentiful wheat fields and butter-making plants.
Sweet potatoes have been growing in the United States since before Columbus came over in 1492. Vardaman, Mississippi, is the Sweet Potato Capital of the World and hosts an annual sweet potato festival featuring a pie eating contest, live entertainment, and a Sweet Potato King & Queen competition.
The St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 forever changed frozen dessert history when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a nearby waffle vendor to roll up some waffles, creating the first ice cream cones.
Vegetables can be pretty sweet. Montana is such a big producer of sugar beets — light brown beets that you can cook to create a molasses — that they’re the mascot of Chinook High School.
Got steak? Nebraska’s license plates in the ’50s and ’60s read “The Beef State”, and beef continues to be the state’s single largest industry.
If you’re looking to get the biggest meal for your buck, a trip to Las Vegas will leave you with a full belly. The casino city is also known as the world capital of buffets, with about 70 total in the city.
A visit to Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry, New Hampshire, can show you how yogurt and other dairy products are produced ethically. This organic, non-GMO company is one of the most popular yogurt producer in the country, and you’ve probably spotted their products in your dairy aisle. Bonus: They’ll even let you taste some free samples.
Need a french fry fix at 2 a.m.? No problem. New Jersey is known as the diner capital of the world thanks to the hundreds of greasy spoons within the Garden States borders. Estimates say there are over 600 statewide.
The chile pepper is the state vegetable of the Land of Enchantment. These spicy veggies go great in many New Mexican meals — just be sure not to rub your eyes after handling them.
After a particularly picky customer at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York, complained about the thickness of his french fries in 1853, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, creating the first potato chips.
Pharmacist Caleb Davis Bradham invented Pepsi-Cola in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1867. Although now a beloved soft drink, Pepsi was originally touted as a healthy drink that aided in digestion.
Nearly 90% of this rural state is farmland, making it the nation’s leading producer of all dry edible beans, honey, canola, and more.
Internationally recognized horticulturalist Alexander W. Livingston developed the Paragon tomato, the first commercially grown tomato, in 1870 in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, giving the town the title, “Birthplace of the Tomato.”
While it’s considered a fruit pretty much everywhere else, the watermelon was declared the state vegetable of Oklahoma in 2007. Since watermelons come from cucumber and gourd families, the state decided that they should be considered vegetables.
The Philly Cheesesteak made its debut in 1930 when Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor, decided to put some beef on his grill and put it on a sandwich. Eventually Pat’s King of Steaks opened and the cheesesteak’s popularity skyrocketed.
A cup of Joe isn’t necessary to get your java fix in this state. Rhode Island adopted coffee milk as its state beverage in 1993. Similar to chocolate milk, the drink is made by mixing a sweet, concentrated coffee syrup with cold milk.
The first recorded effort to cultivate rice in the U.S. happened in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1685. Because of this historical connection to the grain, the state is sometimes called “The Rice State.”
Originally developed as a snack sold to Appalachian coal miners, moon pies were first made in Chattanooga Bakery in Tennessee. The cookies are made with a marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers, dipped in chocolate.
As of 2003, the official state snack is something we eat at almost any gathering: chips and salsa.
Approximately 2 billion cherries are grown in Utah annually, making it the official state fruit. After World War II, the Japanese also sent cherry trees to Utah as a sign of friendship.
The state is the single largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. In 2018 alone, the state syrup crop came in at a record 1.9 gallons.
This seaside state is known as the oyster capital of the east coast, thanks to its plentiful seafood yields. The state also hosts the Urbanna Oyster Festival and the Chincoteague Island Oyster Roast, among other events honoring the shellfish.
If every apple picked in Washington in a single year was placed side-by-side, they would circle around the earth 29 times. Even more impressive? Every apple in the state is hand-picked.
The calzone-esque pepperoni roll originated as a meal for West Virginian coal miners. They are made out of bread rolls with pepperoni and sometimes cheese baked into the middle.
Harkening back to its cowboy roots, Wyoming has its own type of feast: a milk can dinner. Vegetables, meat, and water or beer are placed in a 10-gallon milk can and then cooked over a fire for a couple hours.
Source : Goodhousekeeping