"Welcome to North Dakota, home of the famous sugar." (via Fast Co.Design)
The folks at Fast Company's Co.Design blog created this map (which is interactive on their site) with the help of the Food Genius blog, showing the most "unique" dishes, ingredients, and/or food textures on menus in different US states. Sometimes, this is because a food actually is particular to that state. For instance, Pennsylvania's most "unique" dish is the hoagie sandwich, both because hoagies are awesome and because other places call these sandwiches subs or heroes. On the flip side, states that are not known for their cuisine tend to be bad in similar ways, hence the plethora of states with ranch dressing as their signature ingredient (or "dip"), although North Dakota may be the single worst with "sugar" as its defining taste.
According to Co.Design, the map was created by using terms that Food Genius tracks on menus across the country, which includes dishes and ingredients but also "sensory terms" like "creamy" and "preparation terms" like "blended." The map shows how unusually prevalent a term is in each state, so a dark red state means that term appears in menus 40% (or higher) more often than in other states. In other words, New Mexico really likes Green Chile.
Surprisingly, "cheesesteak" went to New Jersey, although if you've been there, you know that South Jersey (which is tied economically to Philadelphia more than any other city) and the Jersey Shore have way more places boasting the "best Philly cheesesteaks" than the entire city of Philadelphia. Then, there's Maryland, which has "herb." We're going to need you to pee in this cup, Maryland.
Head over to Fast Company to see the full interactive map with lists of the top 5 most unique ingredients/dishes/textures in each state.
(by Johnny McNulty)