The Weirdest Food in Every State
America is a big place — about as big as Europe — so why wouldn't certain states and regions have their own foods?
Some foods followed ancestors from other countries. Some evolved out of necessity. Others cannot be explained as anything more than "weird."
Read on to discover the, shall we say, more unique foods being enjoyed in every state.
Alabama: Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
It's not as weird as it sounds: You eat chocolate in your croissants, muffins and pancakes. Why not melted over fluffy Southern biscuits made from scratch?
Mexican mole sauce, made with cocoa, is said to be the source of this Appalachia breakfast. As traders between the Tennessee Valley and Spanish Louisiana got to know one another, this Mexican-style breakfast chocolate became a thing.
A Yupik word for "mix them together," this dish is pronounced "a-goo-duk" and is simply "Eskimo ice cream," as it was called by the white men who first learned of the native food.
But Akutaq isn't ice cream in the sense you might think. This is made with anything Inuit hunters could find: moose meat, caribou meat and/or fish with the fat from animals, seal oil and berries for sweetness. The combination then gets frozen, as was easy to do when in the wilds of Alaska during the winter.
Today, sugar can be added and, as a dessert, it is a combination of berries and lard.
Arizona: Scorpion Lollipops
You'll find these at practically every roadside attraction gift shop across the state of Arizona: scorpion lollipops.
Actual scorpions are visible from inside a lollipop, so if you eat one, you will be eating a scorpion. It doesn't feel like the candy coating makes these any easier to stomach, though!
Arkansas: Possum Pie
Have no fear! There is NO possum in possum pie!
This Arkansas dessert layers chocolate pudding and cream cheese mixed with sugar on a pecan shortbread crust and is topped with whipped cream and pecans.
Why is it called possum pie? Some say the chocolate hidden under the whipped cream is like a possum pretending to be something it's not. Make sense? It doesn't to us either, but who cares — it's delicious!
In the winter of 2011, a San Francisco fast-food restaurant decided to take the popular traditional sushi and make it conveniently handheld for on-the-go dining.
The result is a Sushiritto — sushi, cucumbers, wasabi and other traditional sushi items wrapped in rice and seaweed. The chain now operates six locations in San Fran and Silicon Valley.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Also called prairie oysters, the "oysters" of the Rocky Mountains don't come from the sea.
Where, praytell, do they hail? Why from bison bulls and specifically only bulls, as Rocky Mountain oysters are testicles.
Often served deep-fried or smoked, you may find some oysters come from pigs, cow or sheep, too. Yum?
Connecticut: Clam Pizza
New Haven, Connecticut, is renowned for its Neapolitan-style "pizza." This coal-fired, thin-crust pizza is beloved across the state and can be made with a variety of flavors.
One of which is clam.
That shouldn't sound too weird, though, since New Haven is along the New York Sound and can have fresh catch daily. Clams and mozzarella are served on dough with a garlic and oil base — no sauce. This is a white pizza that deserves more attention.
Delaware: Creamed Chipped Beef
While it may be called creamed chipped beef, military dads have been known to serve it up with the name "S.O.S."
Using dried pieces of meat and mixing it with a flour, butter and milk sauce, the combination is traditionally poured over toast.
Military cookbooks show this recipe at the start of the 20th century, and it's said to have begun with the Navy.
Florida: Gator Tail
In Florida (and Louisiana), it's not only the alligator's tail that gets eaten. In fact, gator meat is considered a delicacy. But it's the tail, like lobster, that is considered the filet mignon of this reptile.
This part of the gator, known as a tenderloin, is a bit milder in flavor than say the dark meat of the gator's ribs or the white meat of the body.
Gator is often served fried or grilled.
Georgia: Boiled Peanuts
Georgia grows nearly half of the peanuts in the United States, which is why the peanut is the state crop and a popular food. (President Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer back in the day!)
While Georgians eat their peanuts in many ways, one of their favorites is boiled. Using raw peanuts (still green), you can boil them with spices to make the nut more like a legume.
Think of it as a Southerner's edamame.
It's hard to miss ube in Hawaii, especially if you enjoy a traditional luau. This bright purple yam is a staple in the Pacific Islands.
The ube is so sweet it is often mashed and used for jams, sweetbreads, pudding and ice cream.
When eaten as a side, the boiled and mashed ube gets mixed with coconut milk or condensed milk as it cooks, then is cooled in the refrigerator before eating with more milk and grated coconut.
Idaho: Ice Cream Potato
Idaho is known for its potatoes — it's the No. 1 grower of potatoes in the country. So, why wouldn't it's weird food be potato-related?
This special dessert found only in Idaho isn't actually made with a potato but rather vanilla ice cream shaped like a potato then covered in cocoa powder to give it a brown "skin."
You can top your potatoes any way you like: with whipped cream, peanuts, Oreo pieces, chocolate shavings and definitely chocolate syrup.
Illinois: Gravy Bread
Chicago loves its meat, and this weird food got its start with an Italian roast beef sandwich.
While some may order a roast beef sandwich and dip it into an au jus that has simmered with bits of meat, others simply decide to skip the meat and go straight for the dip.
When you order gravy bread, you'll get the Italian roll drenched in au jus, sans meat. This is the dish for you if you love using bread to sop up your leftover meat sauce on your plate.
Indiana: Sauerkraut Balls
Sauerkraut balls aren't simply kraut. It's like having your entire sausage and kraut deep-fried into easy, pop-in-your-mouth balls.
That's right: Dice up a brat, toss with kraut, spices and some cream cheese, roll into a ball, then bread and fry. Voila!
Makes for a great appetizer.
Iowa: Walking Taco
What's not to love about the walking taco? Using an individual bag of Fritos, open it and spoon in taco meat or chili, cheese, sour cream and your usual fixings, and you have the makings of a taco that can be eaten anywhere with a spoon.
This is also known as a Frito pie in other areas of the country, and Doritos work just as well as Fritos.
Beirock isn't only found in Kansas. The dish originated in Eastern Europe and can be found across the Midwest, particularly in German areas.
Using a bun-like dough to create a pocket around meat and other fillings, these "stuffed rolls" are also great to-go foods and are the original Hot Pockets.
Kentucky: Soup Beans
Soup Beans, a staple in the Appalachian mountains, is a soup made with pinto beans, smoked ham hocks and bacon. Developed deep in the mountains where the terrain was rocky and it was harder to grow crops, the "Mountain Folk" found the only things that could survive were hogs and beans.
But this isn't "hillbilly food." Top Chef Contestant and Kentucky-raised Chef Sara Bradley, who trained under Michelin-star chefs, reached the final of the cooking show and showcased her Soup Beans.
This hearty, hot soup is comfort food that will warm you right up in the winter months.
We're sorry to break it to you, but nutria are swamp rats. With the abundance of swamps in Louisiana, swamp rats make for good eating.
Herbivores, nutria are high in protein and low in fat and considered healthy, much like a rabbit.
Just don't think of the animal like a rat, and you'll be OK trying it. (Maybe.)
This one shouldn't surprise you: The people of Maine love eating lobster. The state provides 90 percent of the country's lobster supply, yielding 40 million pounds per year.
And the argument is that the best part of the lobster for eating is the tomalley. This is the digestive gland in lobster. A.k.a. the "green stuff." A.k.a. "lobster excrement."
Some consider it a delicacy. Others, not so much.
Maryland: Stuffed Ham
Everyone has their holiday traditions, and in Maryland, it's all about the stuffed ham.
This recipe dates back to the founders of the state!
Filling a ham with a stuffing of chopped cabbage, onions, kale, spices and seasoning is done by removing the bone and cutting deep gashes into the ham, where you can then fill the spaces with the mixture.
Massachusetts: Chow Mein Sandwich
The Chinese immigrants of Fall River, Massachusetts, situated along the border of Rhode Island, are to thank for the chow mein sandwich.
First popping up in restaurants in the 1930s, it's exactly what you think it is: fried chow mein and gravy on a bun.
Michigan: Detroit-Style Coney Dog
What's the difference between a Coney Island dog and a Detroit Coney dog?
The Coney Island dog is an all-beef hot dog, topped with chili, yellow mustard and diced onions. The Detroit Coney dog is a cheap hot dog topped with beanless beef chili, yellow mustard and diced onions.
Minnesota: Pickle Dog
Why bother with relish when you can do as they do in Minnesota and envelope a hot dog in a pickle?
This state-fair food involves slicing a pickle like a bun, spreading a cream cheese mixture on the pickle — to provide a bit of traction — and then placing the hot dog inside.
If you really want to one-up the recipe, batter it in corn dog mix and fry it!
If the pickle dog sounded weird, the Koolickle has it beat!
Taking a jar of pickles and emptying half of the pickle juice inside, a Koolickle is made by adding in double Kool-Aid drink mix, (more) sugar and water. You are supposed to wait a week while the pickles brine in the fridge and soak in the sugar and flavor.
They say it's a sweet and sour combination, but we'll leave that for you to test out.
Missouri: Provel Cheese
St. Louis is the hotspot for this processed cheese mix made with cheddar, provolone and Swiss cheeses. The combination causes it to melt into a buttery texture.
This can be spread onto bagels, but most folks in Missouri prefer it on their pizza.
The cowboys of Montana (and miners of South Dakota) needed to pack a hearty meal to sustain them through long days.
The solution? Combine their meat and potatoes into a crusty pie, and take it with them.
You'll find pasties in restaurants in both states.
Nebraska: Hot Beef Sundae
No, it's not actually ice cream topped with beef.
A hot beef sundae is akin to the walking taco in that it gives you a roast beef and potatoes meal in an easy carryall, traditionally found at state fairs.
A scoop of mashed potatoes (resembling ice cream) is topped with shredded roast beef and gravy, shredded cheese, a dollop of cream and, yes, a cherry on top. (Actually, it's just a cherry tomato.)
Nevada: Cotton Candy Burrito
If you want a sugar rush, the cotton candy burrito is it.
Start with ice cream topped with sprinkles, gummy bears and any other sweet topping you like on your ice cream, and wrap it all up in cotton candy. (You begin with the cotton candy and flatten it and create multiple layers.)
The unicorn creation originated in Las Vegas, where more is always more.
New Hampshire: Grape-Nuts Ice Cream
Grape-Nuts, a cereal, is not a nut, nor is it a grape. It's a crunchy product made with wheat and barley that gives it a nutty flavor.
For Grape-Nuts ice cream, it's simply taking vanilla ice cream and mixing the cereal in. Some like it for the crunch and use it as a topping, but in New Hampshire, it should be mixed in and allowed to soften and flavor the ice cream.
New Jersey: New Jersey-Style Sloppy Joe
A Sloppy Joe is a big mess of a sandwich with a filling of ground beef and brown sugar.
But not in New Jersey. The Jersey Sloppy Joe isn't messy, but it is big.
This triple-decker sandwich uses corned beef between one layer, roasted turkey on another and then pastrami on the final layer. Toppings of Thousand Island or Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and coleslaw complete the whopper of a hand-held sandwich.
New Mexico: Green Chile Sundae
Take the cool sweetness of vanilla frozen custard and top it with hot, hot, hot chiles for a Southwestern treat.
This New Mexican dish is the creation of those at Caliche's Frozen Custard in Las Cruces.
New York: Garbage Plate
If you're one who doesn't like to mix the foods on your plate into one, this isn't the dish for you.
A garbage plate takes ground beef (with or without cheese) or sausage and dumps it over a mixture of home fries, french fries, macaroni salad and/or baked beans. Hot sauce is drizzled over the top, along with ketchup and mustard, if you'd like.
This makes it much easier to get the flavors of every food at a cookout into one bite, thanks to the good people of Rochester, New York, who first decided this was a necessity in 1918.
North Carolina: Livermush
Is there anything that sounds more appetizing than a dish called "livermush?"
The people of the Carolinas think so.
Found in the state's western mountains, this product uses pig liver, parts of pig heads and cornmeal to create a patty that is fried like sausage and eaten at breakfast or lunch.
North Dakota: Lutefisk
Scandinavians in Norway, Sweden and Finland eat this whitefish ("fisk," most often cod) that has been preserved in lye (lut).
Immigrants from those nations brought the recipe with them, and you'll find it in areas with large populations of Scandinavian heredity, including North Dakota.
This German-American breakfast meat looks a bit like livermush but instead combines ground beef and pork with steel-cut oats, onion and garlic.
Oklahoma: Lamb Fries
You've heard of steak fries — hand-cut French fries served beside meat.
Lamb fries are not the same.
Nope, these are fried lamb testicles.
Oregon: Gooseneck Barnacles
Those barnacles you see stuck to piers, coastal rocks and boats are crustaceans just like lobster and shrimp. They live where the tides go in and out, feeding on the plankton that comes with the tides.
The gooseneck variety is long or stalked, and while they look really, really weird (like dinosaur feet?), some find them to be a delicacy.
Thank the Pennsylvania Dutch for this beloved Pennsylvania dish. Also called Pannhaas, "pan rabbit," this dish takes the scraps of pork (thus the Americanized name) and combines it with cornmeal, flour and spices.
This creates a unique loaf that is then fried before serving, typically at breakfast or lunch.
Rhode Island: Chop Suey Sandwich
It's not a pretty-looking sandwich, but the argument is that it's damn good.
Roasted chicken or pork is sauteed with bean sprouts, celery and onion, then tossed with a soy sauce gravy and put into a hamburger bun — just as messy as a Sloppy Joe.
South Carolina: Chitterlings
A staple of the South are chitterlings, pronounced "chitlins." They can be fried, stewed, grilled, Creole-style, mixed with meat and veggies...
What are they, you wonder? The intestines of a pig or cow.
This Soul food descended from slaves who were not well fed and only given the leftovers of an animal. You do what you must ... and then decades go by, and you have comfort food.
South Dakota: Chislic
Just like the skewered and grilled meat of Turkey, called shish kebabs (shashlik), chislic is South Carolina's cubed grilled meat of a similar name.
Made mostly of sheep and mutton but sometimes venison or other game meats, it's crispy on the outside and pink on the inside — and just as good as kebabs.
Thankfully, there aren't any slugs inside the slugburger, popularized in Tennessee and other parts of the South.
To stretch out meat to last longer, a beef or pork patty was mixed with soybeans that were cheap fillers but still added protein.
Originally called a Weeksburger (after its inventor John Weeks), the meat is deep-fried instead of grilled and served on a bun, just like a traditional burger.
When you're a cowboy or rancher living off the land, why would you pass up a perfectly good rattlesnake?
Eastern Diamondbacks are the heaviest and longest snakes in the U.S., and all of that meat found on a 3- to 8-foot snake shouldn't be wasted.
Just don't eat the head, which is filled with a deadly venom that could kill you.
Utah: Jell-O Salad
Oh, to be a little girl back in grandma's kitchen when Jell-O salads were common side dishes.
Popular in the 1960s and '70s, some still love to use flavored Jell-O with fruit, vegetables, marshmallows and other fillings often cooled in a mold to create a wobbly, gelatinous creation.
Vermont: Sugar on Snow
You cannot visit Vermont without sampling its maple syrup — it's everywhere!
Even on snow.
It becomes nature's candy by simply heating up the syrup and pouring it over packed snow in a pan or bowl.
Virginia: Peanut Soup
This West African dish made its way to Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area and is basically a peanut butter soup.
Ground peanuts or peanut butter are stewed with vegetable broth, ginger, garlic, onion, collard greens and sometimes a tomato paste for a thick and tasty soup (that also goes well served over rice).
Geoduck got its name from a native Puget Sound word meaning either "dig deep" or "genitals."
It's easy to see why.
These giant clams are eaten as sashimi and sushi. (In Japan, it is called mirugai.)
West Virginia: Fried Squirrel
Before you shake your head and say, "Only in West Virginia would someone eat fried squirrel," we have to defend our family members who have been quoted saying, "squirrels are good eatin'."
There sure are plenty of squirrels in the woods so why not, right?
Atkin to eating a rabbit, fried squirrel is preferred but can be eaten in any way rabbit meat can be eaten.
Wisconsin: Butter Burger
As if a cheeseburger isn't already a juicy, calorie-high creation, the people of Wisconsin had to make it even more so.
Take the meat patty, and cook it in butter. Then, cook onions in butter. Then, spread butter onto the buns and toast, and you have a delicious butter burger.
This recipe comes from fast-food chain Culver's, but there are many who try to mimic the recipe.
Wyoming: Chuckwagon Breakfast
Back in the days of Westward Expansion, there weren't any hotels providing breakfast in the morning. Instead, you needed to toss ingredients into a pan and cook it over an open flame.
In Wyoming, where cowboys herd animals for days on end in the wilds, they do the same.
Thus, the chuckwagon, or cowboy, breakfast was born. It's typically a pound of hashbrowns, eggs, sausage gravy and shredded cheese combined together for a one-pan meal.