Thought Idaho was the potato state? Not anymore! The spud state has a lock on cheese, according to a new study that looked at the most distinctive foods for each state. Food Genius examined 88,000 menus with 54 million dishes from every state in the union and then mapped them to see which foods occurred the most. And Idaho was not the only surprise! For instance, the world-famous Philly cheesesteak actually ranked No. 1 in Jersey—not because it’s on more menus than it is in Pennsylvania, the study authors say, "but because, with all respect to New Jersey, the state has nothing more original on its menus". Philly, for the record, loves its hoagies. (Although on second thought, cheese might make sense for Idaho—potato skins, anyone?)
But there are plenty of states whose most distinctive dish is also distinctly healthy.
The whole west coast is obsessed with prawns and with good reason as the tiny crustacean is a low-carb dieter's dream. They are loaded with protein but have zero carbs or fat and are also a great source of minerals like selenium, zinc, and iron. Not to tarnish their health halo but when you break it down by state, Washington's prawns are most associated with "fried", while Oregonians like theirs with hazelnuts (recipe, please!), and Californians eat theirs with "cilantro, avocado, and green salad."
Florida, Maine, and Hawaii stay true to their coastlines by favoring Ahi tuna, haddock, and grouper, respectively, but land-locked Minnesota joins the group with walleye as its state delicacy. (They don't call it the "land of 10,000 lakes" for no reason!) All these fishes are good choices as they are high in protein—although you might want to take it easy with the Ahi as that type of tuna is known for being higher in mercury than other types. Try this to get your fix: Spicy Fish Tacos With Roasted Corn Salsa.
Who knew a spice was considered a food? Yet both Alaska and Wyoming claim the delish powder, a wise option as studies have shown that it naturally helps control blood sugar, suppresses appetite and can help you heal faster from wounds and infections. Cinnamon is also one of the most versatile spices—Wyoming residents, with words like "blended, delicious, and perfect"prefer to drink theirs while it seems that Alaskans prefer theirs in cookies. Try this to get your fix: Hot Cinnamon Coffee.
Move Tennessee and South Dakota up on your vacation destination list as both states list chocolate the most. While eating too much candy isn't good, dark chocolate can be a healthy indulgence as it's high in antioxidants and minerals and one study even showed it can lower your blood pressure. Try this to get your fix: Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.
Check out the full interactive map to see how other places eat. (Dear Utah, what is up with "chip"? Explain yourself please.) What is your state's signature taste? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.