- From Vermont’s maple creemee ice cream cones to Louisiana’s famous beignets, every state has its own most famous dessert.
- Apple pie is arguably the most quintessentially American dessert, but New Hampshire’s many apple orchards make the Granite State particularly fond of it.
- Brownies were invented in Illinois, while Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts.
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Each state has its own famous dessert, from Smith Island cake in Maryland to Derby pie in Kentucky, perfect for the holidays or year-round.
Insider referenced local legends, official state desserts, and the history of different treats to determine the most famous dessert from every state, whether invented or popularised there â€” and the results might surprise you.
Here’s the most famous dessert in every state.
ALABAMA: Lane cake
Alabama’s most famous dessert is undoubtedly Lane cake, a bourbon-laced layer cake with coconut pecan icing. The dish is popular throughout the South but was first invented by Alabama native Emma Rylander Lane, of Clayton, Alabama, who won first prize for her dessert in a Georgia state fair. She later printed the recipe in a book in 1898, according to PBS.
ALASKA: Baked Alaska
It probably comes as no surprise that Alaska’s most famous dessert is baked Alaska. However, while many associate the dessert with the 49th state, the dish was actually invented in New York by French chef Charles Ranhofer. According to The Culture Trip, the flambéed dessert was first served by the chef to celebrate the United States’ purchase of Alaska in 1867.
According to data by Google Trends, despite not being invented there, Alaska searches for the dessert more often than any other state.
Fried dough balls called buñuelos, which are originally from Spain, are a popular dessert throughout Arizona. The doughnuts often come topped with powdered or cinnamon sugar.
ARKANSAS: Fried pies
Fried pies, which are warm, flaky pastries often filled with fruits like peaches and apples, are a veritable Arkansas tradition.
CALIFORNIA: Fortune cookies
Though fortune cookies have become tied with Chinese-American restaurants, their origins may actually come from Japanese, not Chinese, immigrants in the states.
As chop suey restaurants took off in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, many Japanese immigrants also owned the establishments.
In 1914, one Japanese-American owner of a tea garden in California began handing out cookies with thank-you notes hidden inside them. It’s generally accepted that this is when the cookies were first introduced to American diners looking for “dessert” after their meal.
COLORADO: Palisade peach cobbler
While Colorado doesn’t have an official state dessert, the state is famous for its sweet Palisade peaches. The peaches, which get their name from Palisade, Colorado, where they’re grown, can be made into pies, cobblers, and more.
CONNECTICUT: Apple cider doughnuts
Nothing screams fall in New England like an apple cider doughnut. While you can likely pick up apple cider doughnuts across the Northeast in the autumn, Connecticut orchards are particularly known for carrying the sweet treat.
DELAWARE: Peach pie
Delaware’s official state dessert is peach pie, and peaches are an integral part of the state’s agricultural industry. According to the Delaware government website, “peach farming is an important part of Delaware’s agricultural heritage, as the peach was introduced to Delaware in Colonial times and expanded as an industry in the nineteenth century.”
At its peak in 1875, the state shipped 6 million baskets of peaches to market.
FLORIDA: Key lime pie
Authentic Key lime pie is one of the biggest draws for visitors to the Florida Keys. According to What’s Cooking America, the first record of Key lime pie in the United States dates all the way back to the 1800s. However, the recipe wasn’t officially written down until the 1930s.
GEORGIA: Peach pie
Georgia peaches are known around the country, and even the world, so it probably comes as no surprise that the Peach State’s most famous dessert is peach pie. According to State Symbols USA, Georgia-grown peaches are known for having “superior flavour, texture, appearance, and nutritious qualities.”
Though originally Portuguese, malasadas are popular throughout Hawaii. In 1878, Portuguese immigrants moving to Hawaii for labour work brought the traditional food over to the island. Today, there are many Hawaiian bakeries specializing in the fluffy powdered doughnuts.
IDAHO: Ice cream potato
Idaho’s most famous food is its potatoes, but you might not know the state also specialises in a dessert version of its iconic spuds. Ice cream potatoes are made by forming vanilla ice cream into a potato-like shape, dusting the outside with cocoa powder, and filling it with whipped cream and other toppings. The treat is most often sold at fairs and other outdoor events.
Most food historians point to the chefs at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel as the original creators of the brownie. According to Forbes, the story goes that Bertha Palmer, the wife of Palmer hotel owner Potter Palmer, asked the hotel’s pastry chefs to create a dessert that could be easily transported and served in boxed lunches.
Though the desserts weren’t originally called “brownies,” they became the bake-sale staple we know and love today.
INDIANA: Sugar cream pie
Sugar cream pie was named the official Indiana state pie in 2009. According to What’s Cooking America, the pie’s filling is made with creamed butter, maple or brown sugar, a light dusting of flour, and vanilla-flavored cream. The pie’s origins are believed to be derived from the Amish and Shaker communities in Indiana.
IOWA: Caramel corn
Iowa is known for its corn, so it probably comes as no surprise that the state specialises in sweet varieties of popcorn and kettle corn. In fact, according to Iowa Corn, Iowa is the number one state in the country for corn production.
KANSAS: Peppernut cookies
Peppernut cookies originally came from Europe but were brought over to Kansas by German Mennonite and Russian immigrants in the 1870s, according to Kansas! Magazine. The spiced cookies are now a holiday tradition among many families in Kansas.
KENTUCKY: Derby pie
Derby pie, a type of chocolate and walnut tart, was first created by George Kern, the manager of the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, according to The Spruce Eats. The original recipe is top-secret, but similar recipes for the state-famous pie are available.
For anyone visiting New Orleans, the city’s delicious beignets are a must-try. The most famous powdered doughnuts come from Cafe du Monde.
MAINE: Whoopie pie
Multiple states lay claim to inventing the whoopie pie, with some saying the sweet dessert’s roots come from Amish communities. However, according to Farmers’ Almanac, the first commercially produced whoopie pies were sold by Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine, in 1925.
MARYLAND: Smith Island cake
Smith Island cake was named Maryland’s official state dessert in 2008. The sweet layer cakes traditionally consist of around eight to 10 layers of yellow cake, separated by layers of chocolate frosting.
MASSACHUSETTS: Boston cream pie
Boston cream pie is the official dessert of the commonwealth.
The Parker House Hotel, which is now known as The Omni Parker House Hotel, in Boston, Massachusetts, claims to be the oldest institution to start selling Boston cream pies. According to What’s Cooking America, French chef M. Sanzian invented the chocolate and cream dessert prior to the hotel’s opening in 1856.
MICHIGAN: Cherry pie
Michigan relies heavily on its cherry production, and the fruit is one of the state’s biggest exports. Therefore, it shouldn’t be shocking that cherry pie is a favourite dessert among Michigan locals.
MINNESOTA: Bundt cake
There would be no Bundt cake without Bundt pans, and the dishes were invented in Minnesota. According to Food and Wine, Bundt pans were invented by H. David Dalquist, the owner of the Nordic Ware company, in 1950. He was reportedly inspired by a mould that was handed down to one of his shoppers from her European grandmother. While her mould was ceramic, Dalquist’s was made from aluminium.
MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi mud pie
Mississippi mud pie, a dessert made with pudding, cake, biscuits, ice cream, whipped cream, marshmallows, and some kind of liqueur, was invented in the Vicksburg-Natchez area near Jackson, Mississippi, according to Eater.
MISSOURI: Ice cream cone
Missouri is credited as the home of the very first ice cream cone. According to State Symbols USA, ice cream cones were first served at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904. In 2008, ice cream cones were named as the state’s official dessert.
Montana has no official state dessert, so many have dubbed s’mores as the state’s unofficial favourite sweet treat due to Montana’s many hiking and camping opportunities.
NEBRASKA: Sweet corn ice cream
Nebraskans love corn, and it’s not surprising that the state has found a way to work the ingredient into its desserts. Although Nebraska doesn’t have an official state dessert, according to the book “Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States,”Nebraska is famous for its sweet corn ice cream.
NEVADA: Basque cheesecake
According to food blog Pardon Your French, Basque cake and cheesecake were first made popular in the Basque region of France. However, Basque settlers arriving in Nevada during the Gold Rush era brought the dessert along as well. Now, it’s one of the state’s most famous desserts.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Apple pie
Apple pie is as American as it gets, and many states will argue over where the dessert was invented and who does it the best. However, New Hampshire gets the accolade in this list due to the fact that New Hampshire has a plethora of apple orchards perfect for making your own homemade apple pie.
NEW JERSEY: Saltwater taffy
Salt water taffy was first produced in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the late 19th century, and has been a popular sweet treat for tourists and locals alike ever since.
NEW MEXICO: Empanadas
Empanadas are a must-have dessert in New Mexico, and while savoury versions are extremely popular, so are sweeter varieties like apple and cinnamon sugar.
NEW YORK: New York cheesecake
New York cheesecake is one of the state’s biggest pride and joys, and the dessert proves that to be delicious, you don’t need tons of add-ons and toppings. This simple cheesecake recipe was reportedly first invented in 1929 by Arnold Reuben, the owner of Turf Restaurant in New York City, according to What’s Cooking America.
NORTH CAROLINA: Krispy Kreme doughnuts
Krispy Kreme began operating in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on July 13, 1937. At the time, the owner Vernon Rudolph was only selling his doughnuts to local grocery stores. However, after people passing by the bakery asked about the heavenly scent, he cut a hole in an outside wall and began selling glazed doughnuts to people on the footpath.
NORTH DAKOTA: Chocolate-covered potato chips
Chocolate-covered potato chips, also known as “chippers,” were invented by William Widman of Dubuque, Iowa, in 1885. However, the recipe was passed on to other members of the Widman family and spread to other parts of the country where they gained a huge amount of popularity. Chippers were first sold at Widman’s Candy in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1949.
OHIO: Buckeye candy
Buckeye candies are named for the nuts of the buckeye tree, a tree native to the state. Now, the buckeye is seemingly synonymous with Ohio and its citizens. Buckeye candy is commonly eaten across Ohio and neighbouring states around the holidays and during football season.
OKLAHOMA: Pecan pie
While Oklahoma doesn’t have an official state dessert, it does have an official state meal that happens to include dessert. According to State Symbols USA, the official state meal of Oklahoma includes fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas, strawberries, and pecan pie.
OREGON: Marionberry pie
Marionberries, a type of fruit highly similar to blackberries, are grown exclusively in Oregon. Marionberry pie is the state’s official pie, as well as one of the state’s most famous and popular desserts.
PENNSYLVANIA: Funnel cake
Funnel cake is one of the most delicious fair foods you’ll find nationwide, but the sweet treat originated in Pennsylvania. According to Chowhound, the fried dessert was brought over to the United States by German-speaking immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries, who called it “drechter kuche.”
In 1950, professors at Pennsylvania’s Franklin & Marshall College founded the annual Kutztown Folk Festival to celebrate the state’s history and sold funnel cake to attendees. The dessert was popularly received and has been a fair staple ever since.
RHODE ISLAND: Del’s frozen lemonade
Any Rhode Island native knows that summer means one thing – Del’s frozen lemonade. The first Del’s frozen lemonade stand in America was opened in Cranston, Rhode Island, in 1948, by members of the DeLucia family. The simple yet delicious frozen dessert was the stand’s only product.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Coconut cake
The legendary coconut cake from the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, South Carolina, is world famous – and for good reason. The trademarked Ultimate Coconut Cake features 12 layers of coconut goodness and has been served at the restaurant since 1997.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Kuchen
Kuchen, which translates to “cake” in German, was first brought to South Dakota by German immigrants in the 1880s, according to South Dakota Magazine. The dessert can be made with a variety of different fruits, including apples and berries. It is the state’s official dessert.
TENNESSEE: Moon pies
Moon pies – graham cracker cookies with marshmallow filling and chocolate coating – were invented in 1917 as a snack for coal miners. Today, the cookies are still primarily produced by Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
TEXAS: Pecan pie
Pecan pie is one of America’s most famous desserts, and recipes have been traced back to Texas from as early as the 1870s. According to Eater, the earliest recipes of pecan pie differed slightly from how the dessert is made today. The first “modern” recipe for pecan pie was submitted by a Texas woman to a church charity cookbook in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1898.
Jell-O is the official state snack of Utah. According to a post on Utah Senator Mike Lee’s website, the gelatin dessert is so popular in the state that, in 1996, Salt Lake Magazine named Utah “the Jell-O State.”
VERMONT: Maple creemee
Maple creemee, a type of maple-flavored soft ice cream, is the unofficial state dessert of Vermont. While the exact origin of maple creemees is highly debated across Vermont, all can agree that the ice cream is unique to the state. While recipes can vary depending on where you go, most maple creemee cones are made using real Vermont maple syrup and a lower-fat ice cream base.
VIRGINIA: Chess pie
Though no one has been able to definitely say where chess pie got its name, most food historians agree that the dessert can be traced back to the South, namely Virginia. In fact, a recipe bearing a striking resemblance to chess pie even appeared in Martha Washington’s “Booke of Cookery” from the mid-1700s.
WASHINGTON: Nanaimo bars
According to Slate’s United Sweets of America report, Nanaimo bars are the dessert of choice in Washington. The chocolate, graham cracker, and pudding dessert bars originally hail from Canada but were introduced to the United States when Seattle-born Starbucks began selling them in the chain’s coffee shops.
WEST VIRGINIA: Shoofly pie
While West Virginia has no official state dessert, shoofly pie is commonly regarded as one of the state’s most famous – and delicious – dishes. Though the pie is thought to have originally been invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch, molasses, the main ingredient in shoofly pie, is a popular ingredient throughout West Virginia.
Made with fruits, nuts, jams, or chocolate, the pastry’s roots in the United States have been traced back to Racine, Wisconsin. In 2013, Danish Kringle was named the official Wisconsin state pastry.
WYOMING: Huckleberry ice cream
Huckleberries are native to the Wyoming area and are used in a variety of desserts ranging from pies to frozen treats. However, no dessert is more quintessentially Wyoming than huckleberry ice cream.
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