American food can be found all over the world (#GoldenArchesTakeover), but there are some foods that probably won’t make it out of their state, let alone the country. Maybe that’s not so shocking when you see the list of each states’ most cringeworthy, yet ironically popular, food, as graciously researched by Thrillist. Don’t read this on a full stomach.
Alabama: Ambrosia salad
If you’re a fan of fruit and too much sugar, you might not deem this a questionable food, and you’d be joined right along with those native to Alabama.
By the way, when we say “fruit,” we’re using that term very loosely, as the stuff you’ll find in an Ambrosia salad is actually canned, then it’s combined with some mini-marshmallows—usually meant for things like a nice cup of hot cocoa—and then shredded coconut (which has more calories than one might believe). It’s topped off with “a creamy dairy item,” though the item itself can range from anything like Cool Whip—ahem, not the ideal whipped cream—to sour cream or cottage cheese.
Alaska: Akutaq (Eskimo Ice Cream)
Located on the outskirts of the States, Alaska is home to a dish dubbed “Eskimo Ice Cream,” though its proper name is akutaq. Ironically, the “origins involve no actual dairy, because Western Alaska’s rough territory for cattle farming,” but the OG sort of akutaq is a little…foreign, to those of us not from Alaska.
Taking what “was essentially a mixture of seal and/or other animal fats (moose! Walrus!)” and combined with the most convenient berries around, and occasionally, the addition of milk and sugar, this dish is not for the faint of heart.
Arizona: Mesquite pods
Arachnophobes beware, this dish is definitely not for you, as it involves eating “8in-long chartreuse-colored spiders crawling out of … branches.” Yeah, not for us.
According to Thrillist, there are different flavors of these eight-legged creatures, including a honey-mesquite option, and they “taste like organic Skittles.” While we can appreciate the beauty of the natural world, we’ll stick to processed sugar on this one, thanks.
Arkansas: Buffalo ribs
Unlike buffalo wings, which actually come from chicken meat, these ribs consist of Arkansas’ buffalo fish, which are massive (to put it lightly), despite the fact that they actually live in freshwater. If you aren’t a fan of consuming food that measures bigger than the size of your face, you might want to stick to traditional ribs.
Well, if you’re on a health kick, or you identify as vegan, gluten-free, or you claim to be a lover of kale—we know you’re lying, just give it up—then you’ve probably heard of Goop.
Dubbed by Thrillist as “aggressively wholesome,” this fad takes the idea of healthy eating to a whole new level. Be prepared for “barren bone broths in Mason jars to detox systems” galore.
Colorado: Shredded wheat
Described as “crispy-then-mushy fiber,” it sounds nothing short of delectable, right? You might enjoy this if you like the idea of soggy cardboard.
Connecticut: New Haven clam pie
If you’re big on pizza (who isn’t, really?), and big on shellfish, then maybe you won’t find this so strange, but a New Haven clam pie consists of “loading clams atop white-sauced [pizza] pies. Definitely not for those conscious of their sodium intake.
Delaware: Slippery dumplings
These dumplings are stuffed with a combination of chicken and noodles, coated in a “gravy-like chicken broth,” and though that sounds far from appetizing, they’re supposedly pretty good. Although, you might just have to eat them with your eyes closed.
Florida: Gator tail
Oh, Florida, the attributes of which are almost entirely relegated to the Orlando area—because who doesn’t love a good dose of Disney and Harry Potter?—and this signature dish is part of the reason why.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: the tail of an alligator. It supposedly tastes strikingly similar to chicken—which seems to be what people say about most questionable meats.
Georgia: Ham hocks
Speaking of questionable types of meat, if you’ve eaten pig knuckles, then you’ve eaten ham hocks. Yum. If you’re one of those people who dabs the grease off your pizza with a napkin, then you’re not going to be a fan of these, even though they’re often combined with collard greens or added to a stew.
Hawaii: SPAM musubi
This might not sound quite as off-putting to fans of sushi, but then again, sushi isn’t usually paired with SPAM—what is, anymore? This slice of nigiri is paired with “the highly processed Minnesotan canned meat product” to create what probably would not be considered a sushi delicacy.
Idaho: Sturgeon eggs
If you don’t want to splurge on French caviar, then go to Idaho and indulge (eh?) in the American version, which is really just large eggs from sturgeons.
Actually, scratch that, you’re still going to be paying a whole lot for these: “more than $100 an ounce.”
Illinois: Gravy bread
This is essentially a French dip sandwich since it’s “dipped in the warm vat of beef juice for extra flavor/sloppiness,” except it’s missing a prime component. The meat isn’t in the sandwich for this one; it just creates the juice.
Indiana: Brain sandwich
While the idea of consuming brains might not be appetizing for someone who doesn’t qualify as a zombie, the fact that they’re breaded and subsequently fried does make them a bit easier to choke down. However, you might not look at pigs the same way afterwards; the safety of consuming pork brains has been called into question.
Iowa: Loose meat
Another very fitting name for what it is, this “sandwich” consists of just beef and bread. Given the lack of shoutouts to spices or any toppings, we’re stuck imagining a very sad taco.
If you’re a fan of German cuisine, then maybe you’ll have an alright time with this one. Bierocks are also known as “cabbage rolls,” these are prevalent in smaller towns that happen to have a history of German ancestry. If you’re a fan of things like Hot Pockets, Thrillist considers these a sort of predecessor.
Kentucky: Lamb fries
While the north uses fries to describe strips of potatoes up north, Kentuckians use the word to denote testes. Not only that, they make sure to deep-fry said testes. We have no words.
Remember way back at the start of this when we said Akutaq wasn’t for the faint of heart? Well that was nothing compared to Nutria, the components of which probably require a drum roll. Are you ready?
Nutria just so happens to be a rodent, and, true to form, described as having a similar taste to chicken—don’t they all?
If you’ve ever paid attention when eating a lobster, then you know there’s something green that comes with it, which, as it turns out, is the makings of the lobster’s pancreas and liver. In Maine, it can be used as a topping for things like otherwise delicious lobster rolls, some even eat it on its own.
Maryland: Stuffed ham
This is especially common in the southern part of the state, where the ham will be corned, cut open to accommodate all the food that will be stuffed in there, all of which will be “greens (kale and cabbage are common choices).” If that doesn’t sound suspicious enough, it’s then boiled whilst wrapped up in some cheesecloth and ends up looking pretty sickly.
Massachusetts: Marshmallow Fluff
Alright, we can assure you that this one in particular is way better than it sounds—though most things that start with the word marshmallow aren't quite so strange as other foods we've encountered. Fluff is often used as a substitute for jelly on PB&J sandwiches, because it goes so well with peanut butter. In case you were wondering, yes, it’s wholly artificial and should probably only be consumed in moderation.
Michigan: Something your neighbor “took care of”
Vegetarians may not feel so comfortable in Michigan, where common treats range from “venison chili, possum jerky, whitefish dip,” and more. Enjoy...
Minnesota: Pickle dog
Way out in Minnesota, which you might recognize as being notorious for its weather and accents, something called a pickle dog is popular. Contrary to what the name might suggest, there is not one “dog"; in this case we mean hot dog.
Instead, this summer snack is sort of a distant cousin to pigs in a blanket, at least as far as looks are concerned. You have just a diill pickle that gets coated with a bunch of sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, with roast beef serving as the “blanket.”
It’s the return of the pickle, only this one is much harder to fathom eating than the pickle dog, no matter how tolerable it’s said to be. The Koolickle is literally “a pickle soaked in Kool-Aid,” and we’re not sure that even our iron stomachs are strong enough to give that a try.
Missouri: St. Louis-style pizza
Don’t be relieved so quickly, this isn’t the pizza you’re probably used to. In Missouri, pizza crust isn’t stuffed with cheesy goodness, but rather, incredibly thin—like breakable thin—and “topped with aggressively spiced, slightly sweet tomato sauce and St. Louis staple Provel cheese.”
Unlike the classic New York pizza that comes in a pie and is sliced into triangles, the St. Louis signature consists of square slices.
Montana: Rocky Mountain oysters
Here we are, right back to consuming testes, and they’re still fried. Amazingly enough, these aren’t compared to chicken but “sliced, fried meatballs.”
Nebraska: Hot beef sundae
Unlike the hot fudge sundaes you might find at Johnny Rockets though, these hot beef sundaes elicit scarring memories, rather than a feeling of sweet comfort. Visually, they’re supposed to resemble the classic sundae noted above, but there’s something about a combination of mashed potatoes, gravy, roast beef, and tomato that, while probably delicious, might look a bit disturbing.
Nevada: All-you-can-eat buffet plates, courtesy of casinos
We know that Vegas is all about the mantra, “Go big or go home,” so it’s no surprise that the state of Nevada’s buffets are highlighted as a local favorite. After all, where is excess more accepted and promoted than buffet tables (and Vegas)? Whether you want to gorge yourself on Mexican food, seafood, or dessert, you do you in Vegas, even if it is unappetizing.
New Hampshire: Grape-Nuts ice cream
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone under the age of 70 who willingly consumes Grape-Nuts to begin with, not least because they taste like “concrete pebbles.” In New Hampshire though, it seems they like to counter the sweet taste of ice cream with a blandness like no other.
New Jersey: Pork roll
Despite the health problems one might very well incur after consuming a pork roll, this “processed pork product” is paired with egg and cheese to create something that actually doesn’t taste disgusting, even if it doesn’t sound quite as appetizing. Thrillist even suggests sandwiching it in the middle of a bagel—because Jersey.
New Mexico: Carne adovada
Though its contents are definitely something to relish—red chile and pork—the image is an admittedly different story. It’s said that you shouldn’t judge a book, or food, by its cover though, because this is apparently a pretty delectable meal.
New York: Garbage plate
Now we’re not talking about Seinfeld’s New Yawk here, but rather, upstate, which is another world unto itself. North of Manhattan, you’ll find fans of the garbage plate; though it dates back to at least 1918, it's now made using a plethora of ingredients which vary based on where you are. Originally though, it could generally consist of “fried potatoes, baked beans, hot dogs, onions, mustard, and a chili-like meat sauce.”
North Carolina: Livermush
If the name isn’t enough to turn you off (in which case, you’re a total trooper), then maybe its contents—which are pig liver, cornmeal, and, just brace yourself for this, "head parts”—will be enough to do the trick.
North Dakota: Lutefisk
If you’re not a fan of whitefish, then you definitely won’t want to try lutefisk—even if it is Scandinavian (and boy, do they have some great food). Essentially, it’s whitefish that is “dried, soaked in lye for days, and then boiled.”
If you don’t know what lye is, then regard that ignorance as bliss, because it won’t make this more appetizing.
Ohio: Cincinnati chili five-way
While we all love a good chili—even the vegetarian kind can be pretty great—the tomatoey flavors of it don’t really go well with pasta. Ohio disagrees though, which explains why the midwestern state has no qualms about pairing chili and spaghetti, only to top it off with the contents of nachos.
Oklahoma: Fried rattlesnake
Yes, this does involve eating yet another reptile that is, unsurprisingly compared to, what else, but chicken. Although, there’s not a consensus on that one, so you might still be in for a less-than-pleasant taste.
Oregon: Eyebrow-raising ice cream
If you’ve ever tried ice cream in Oregon, then you probably know they don’t approach it in the way most of the country does. They’re pretty experimental when it comes to the ever-American dessert, having debuted flavors such as blood pudding and corn. The experimentation doesn’t stop with the actual ice cream though, rather extending all the way to the cones. (Did you know Parmesan cones are a thing? We didn’t.)
The home state of Dunder Mifflin is also home to something called scrapple, which unlike the game it sounds like, is not a load of family fun, but a “meat cake” comprised of “pork scraps and trimmings mixed with buckwheat, flour, cornmeal, and spices.” Yeah, no thanks, we’ll opt for literally anything else instead.
Rhode Island: Chop suey sandwich
Unlike scrapple, this visually displeasing meal is actually regarded highly when it comes to actual taste. What you’re getting is “meat, eggs, vegetables, and often noodles cooked in a starch-thickened sauce”—which is chop suey, for those who are unfamiliar. Then it’s served on a hamburger bun.
South Carolina: Chitterlings
If you think this sounds like innards, that’s because chitterlings are innards—though from what, we’re not entirely sure. Thrillist suggests ordering them fried, though they’re also served boiled.
South Dakota: Chislic
Just in case you thought we were running out of meaty dishes, fear not! Chislic happens to be the name for small cubes of, that’s right, you guessed it, meat. These cubes are then fried and served like those mini club sandwiches you get at parties. The meat used includes beef and wild game, as well as lamb.
Tennessee: The Fat Elvis
Worried that the home state of Graceland was about to stop referencing the music great? Don’t bother. He’s still generating plenty of tourism for the country music destination, even if part of that is culinary tourism. The Fat Elvis is a PB&J sandwich, minus the jelly, subbing it for banana, and including some bacon on it. So it’s a healthy sort of meal, clearly.
Texas: Deep-fried butter
There’s a reason they say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and an adoration of butter is no different. While we all like a good old-fashioned churro, piece of some funnel cake, or even a fried Oreo to snack on while we walk around a state fair, there are limits to what should and shouldn’t be fried.
Truth be told, there are some things that are probably just not meant for our bodies to consume, and fried butter is one of them. But if any state is going to test the limits of the human body, it’s bound to be Texas.
No, by the way, deep-fried butter is nothing more than that, unless you count the dough the butter is wrapped in, which then results in “a taste similar to the butteriest piece of toast you’ve ever had.” So there’s that.
This video demonstrates how to make the deep-fried delicacy:
Utah: Jell-O Salad
The state may be home to Sundance, but it’s also home to this…thing. It's not just a Jell-O mold; it's a Jell-O mold with veggies and fruits stuck all up in it.
Vermont: Raw milk
You might be a lover of all things milk and cheese, but that doesn’t mean you’re prepared for raw milk, because in case you’ve forgotten, the milk you drink is almost certainly pasteurized. Raw milk, on the other hand, isn’t. There’s also a risk of diseases like E. coli from drinking it.
Virginia: Brunswick stew
If you’re a fan of slurping up vegetables mixed with meat, then it’s probably fine to eat this, except for the fact that the meat used can vary. So you might be eating something other than chicken when you get this dish, like rabbit or “whatever else [Virginians have] access to.”
If you eat this thing that Thrillist assures is “basically a clam,” just be sure to not look at it before, during, or after your meal. Don’t ask why, don’t test it, just trust us.
Washington, DC: U Street Taco
Technically not a state, this one is on here, because, well, it’s the hub of all things governmental, and subsequently, kind of an important region to recognize. If you’re a fan of the half-smoke (“[one-quarter lb] half pork and beef smoked sausage on a warm steamed bun and [topped] … with mustard, onions and … spicy homemade chili sauce,” then you’ll probably like this. It’s the same thing, but put inside of “a jumbo slice,” whatever that is.
West Virginia: Fried squirrel
Yes, this is a real squirrel, and yes, it is really fried. Whether the concern of potentially contracting rabies comes into play though, we’re not sure. (Though it’s probably not an issue because they can’t really bite you if they’re, you know, cooked.) According to a 1997 New York Times article though, squirrels were thought to possibly “be infected [with mad squirrel disease,” which is reassuring.
Wisconsin: Butter burger
While the idea of a burger soaking under a sheath of butter might sound good to some people, to others, it might sound just like a coronary on standby. No matter how much we love butter or burgers, there’s something that just sounds a bit…off about putting them together, but supposedly, the meal is indeed tasty.
Wyoming: Chuckwagon breakfast
Home to cowboys and outdoorsy pursuits—because, cowboys—Wyoming loves its Chuckwagon breakfast. Though the name itself is less than appetizing, the components are alright. Eggs are obviously no stranger to breakfast, and neither are the beans they’re paired with, all of which is fire-cooked to complete the aesthetic.