Every state has symbols that define it, whether it be a flag, flower, or motto. And 36 out of our 50 states have other defining symbols: state foods. Some have just one in a specific category, maybe something classically pastoral like a state berry. Other states have multiple, and they can become more avant-garde, stuff like state donut or state appetizer. And it’s up to state legislatures to decide what makes the cut.
There are some clear patterns—for instance, 14 states have declared that their state beverage is milk, which speaks to the widespread economic impact of cattle across America. Some of the newest states in the union—like Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii—haven’t yet gotten around to defining themselves in this particular way.
Every state has a long history winding through its food, and these food symbols give us insight into their respective states. This is a list of some of the most interesting and satisfyingly unique offerings from each of those 36 states.