The Weirdest Eating Patterns Of Each U.S. State

Louisiana does love its crawdads. But does the cheesesteak crown belong to New Jersey?!?

We’ve all know how much Philly loves its cheesesteaks. But you know what the data tells us? The most distinctive menu item in Pennsylvania restaurants isn’t the cheesesteak. It’s actually the hoagie.

Co.Design teamed up with food industry analytics firm Food Genius to mine its database of 88,000 menus and 59 million menu items and build this map of the each state’s true crown jewel food. What you’re looking at isn’t the most popular food by state. It’s the food that most distinguishes them from the rest of the pack.

Pennsylvania claims the hoagie because it’s on more than a third of menus across the state, while only 6% of menus nationwide have hoagies on them. Meanwhile, it’s actually New Jersey that claims the cheesesteak as its most distinctive dish, not because it’s on more menus than it is in Pennsylvania, but because, with all respect to New Jersey, the state has nothing more original on its menus.

But to really see how food trends play out, we’d recommend toggling through each of Food Genius’s five most distinctive regional food trends. Cheesesteaks are on the list, along with green chilis, green bell peppers, ranch dressing, and pecans.

What you’ll see is in many ways a better portrait of our weird eating habits. Cheesesteaks are an East Coast meal, green chilis quite literally blossom out of New Mexico, green bell peppers dominate the north, pecans are beloved in the South (and for some reason, South Dakota), and ranch dressing is slathered across the Northwest to the Southeast because ranch goes great on everything. Except New York.--Mark Wilson

[Images via Shutterstock]

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68 Comments

  • Baw Baw

    I'm sorry but this is wrong about the state of Kentucky... Ranch dressing? I know of a few people that like eating ranch dressing with veggies or baked on chicken but I don't know very people that eat it all of the time or even eat it all unless they are eating on salad.

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  • Barbara Woolever

    golumkis and perogies were not taken intoaccount. oor the Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie or bott boi which does not have a baked crust but is cooked in a pot with dumplings or dpough. what you used was something that Philadelphia takes credit for but is not exclusive for Philadelphia.

  • Author, please take note: when writing about regional foods, "chile" vs. "chili" is a point of contention. New Mexicans do not spell chile with an 'i'. Chili is a bean and meat dish served in Texas. This is not a joke.

  • Actually, we think the only thing this infographic tells us is that a there are still a lot of menu writers using crappy, clichéd terms. Seriously, is the term "smothered" considered part of the sensory category or the preparation category?

    But our favorite part of the study? This disclaimer: "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." Because lord knows, those Alaskans love them some cookies.

  • Victoria Equality Olson

    Who made this mess? What a bad joke. What the hell is a 'chip'? isn't that British for 'french fried potato'? What is 'dip'? Really. What is 'dip'? and 'prawns' are very rare in the USA. We call them 'shrimp'. If you're making a map of a country that supposedly reflects that country's tastes, use the actual language of that country. Not some hashed up sham of it. Sad, not worthy of publication. The Food Genius is an ass.

  • bschmidling

    On top of everything else, it appears the states are alphabetized according to two-letter abbreviation, not by their full names. Kind of slipshod, there.

  • Sue MacDonald Kyak

    No offense to NJ? Offense taken! We have delicious food here and we also have access to every type of cuisine you can imagine. And our associated terms are way better than PA.

  • A Hoagie is a Sandwich. No one says hoagie sandwich- it would be like saying a "Wrap Sandwich". Sorry to be nit-picky, as a native Pennsylvanian who loves her hoagies it is making me irrationally angry.

  • Maureen Leppold Kowalski

    Depending on the state where you live, hoagies are also called grinders, po' boys, and subs or submarines. Where does this genius think Sub Way restaurants got their names?

  • Tom Salvitti

    I was born in PA but now live in NJ...couldn't agree with you more. I was thinking "seriously guys....Who the eff calls it a hoagie sandwich"....