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Know Your State Foods

Know Your State Foods
October 28, 2022 Capri S. Cafaro

Do you know if your state has an official food or drink? If you live in the Great Lakes region, chances are your state boasts multiple official foods, drinks and even crops. Some of them – not all – a part of the region’s water-related culture, history and traditions.

Each state chooses their respective official delicacy for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a food is selected because it is deemed culturally significant or because the state is the leading producer of a crop. But there are instances when school children or constituents come up with an idea for an official food or drink and present it to their government representatives. These ideas then become law, creating the official designation for that state.

Read on to learn what your Great Lakes state has chosen.

Illinois

The Land of Lincoln has an official state snack food, pie, fruit, vegetable, and grain.

Snack Food: Popcorn

Illinois governor signed the law to make popcorn the official snack food of the state back in 2003. Elementary school children and their teacher made it their class project to make popcorn the official snack food. At the time of enactment, Illinois was the fourth largest producer of popcorn in the nation.

Fruit: Goldrush Apple

Much like the state snack food, the official state fruit originated with an idea from fourth graders.  Working with bill sponsor state Senator John Jones, the kids made their idea a reality in 2007.

Vegetable: Sweet Corn

Sweet corn became the official vegetable of Illinois in 2015 when it ranked #2 in corn production. Once again, elementary school students brought this idea to the state legislature, a common theme among Illinois state foods.

Pie: Pumpkin Pie

2015 also brought Illinois its official pie. Pumpkin pie was chosen by state lawmakers because Illinois produces 85% of all pumpkin consumed in the United States.

Grain: Corn

Illinois is a leader in corn production leading to types of corn being both the state’s official snack food and vegetable. So, it should be no surprise that corn also became Illinois’ official grain in 2018.

Indiana

The Hoosier State has both an official pie and official drink. One is obvious, and the other may surprise you.

Pie: Hoosier Pie

Even though this simple cream pie has been made in Indiana for over a century, it did not become the official state pie until 2009. It’s such a significant part of Indiana culture, you can follow the Indiana Foodways Alliance Hoosier Pie Trail to get your fill of the official pie.

Drink: Water

According to Indiana Senate Resolution 20, water “makes life possible” which is as good a reason as any to become the official state drink!

Michigan

While Michigan is well known for its cherries, this famous fruit does not hold any official state designation. Michigan does not have any official foods or drinks by law, but it does have a state fish and a state game mammal which could be considered food. In addition, there is a bill pending in the Michigan legislature to make wild rice the state grain.

Minnesota

Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but it is also a state with several official foods including a state mushroom, muffin, fruit, fish, grain and even a drink.

Mushroom: Morel Mushroom

The morel mushroom has been the official state mushroom in Minnesota since 1984 when a member of the Minnesota Mycological Association decided to approach his state senator to create a bill designating the honeycomb textured fungi the state mushroom.

Muffin: Blueberry Muffin

After a group of third graders realized the blueberries were grown widely in parts of Minnesota, they made it their mission to make the blueberry muffin the official muffin of the state back in 1988.

Fruit: Honeycrisp Apple

The University of Minnesota created the Honeycrisp apple in the 1960’s. It became the official state fruit in 2006.

Fish: Walleye

Walleye is popular to fish and eat across much of the Great Lakes, including Minnesota. It became the official state fish back in 1965.

Grain: Wild Rice

Wild rice has been harvested in the region by indigenous people well before Minnesota became a state. It was designated the official grain in 1977.

Drink: Milk

Back in 1984, the state government made milk the official state drink as a nod to Minnesota ranking in the top ten for dairy production in the United States.

New York

New York, like many other Great Lakes states has designated an official state fruit, muffin, snack food, and drink.

Fruit: Apple

New York selected the apple as its official state fruit in 1976. Today, New York ranks second in apple production nationwide.

Muffin: Apple Muffin

Eleven years later, in 1987, then Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill making apple muffins the official state muffin after a group of elementary school students joined forces with the New York Apple Growers Association to advocate for the passage of the law.

Snack Food: Yogurt

According to Cornell University Extension, New York is #1 in yogurt production. While the state made yogurt the official snack food in 2018, state legislators did debate the merits of yogurt as a snack food.

Drink: Milk

New York chose to make milk the official state beverage in 1981 due to its stature as the fifth largest milk producer in the United States.

Ohio

The buckeye tree is the official tree of The Buckeye State. But that tree and its nut does not count as an official food in Ohio. The state does have an official drink, fruit and native fruit.

Drink: Tomato Juice

Ohio designated tomato juice its official state drink in 1965 thanks in part to the legacy of a man named Alexander Livingston. Livingston helped create a number of tomato varieties in Ohio during the 1800’s.

Fruit: Tomato

Ohio made the tomato its state fruit 44 years after tomato juice became the state drink.

Native Fruit: Paw Paw

The Paw Paw became Ohio’s official native fruit in the same bill signed into law in 2009. The Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival and the Ohio Paw Paw Festival celebrate both state fruits annually.

Ontario

Ontario is a critical part of the Great Lakes region. But, unlike its American neighbors, this Canadian province does not have any official food or drink designated by its government.

According to the Ontario Legislative Assembly, the province does have an official gem, bird, flower and tartan.

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State only has an official beverage on the books. However, that is not because no one has tried to designate other official foods. Legislators have proposed bills to name sweet corn the official vegetable, Shoofly Pie as the state pie, apple as the official fruit and chocolate chip as the official cookie. None have become law.

Beverage: Milk

In 1982, the Pennsylvania General Assembly made milk the official state beverage. Pennsylvania is home to over 5,000 dairy farms.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is very proud of its food and agricultural operations. Many of the official state products are dairy related.

Domesticated Animal: Dairy Cow

Dairy cannot be produced without the dairy cow. So, it is no surprise Wisconsin, self-proclaimed as America’s Dairyland designated its official domesticated animal as the dairy cow in 1971.

Beverage: Milk

Following the dairy theme, milk became the official state beverage in 1987.

Dairy Product: Cheese

It took the effort of elementary school students to finally bring cheese to its rightful place in Wisconsin history as its official dairy product in 2017.

Grain: Corn

Corn is a popular official state grain, crop or vegetable across the Great Lakes. Wisconsin is no different, deeming it the official grain in 1989.

Fruit: Cranberry

Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production. Fifth graders led the charge to make cranberries the official fruit in 2003.

Pastry: Kringle

A nod to Danish immigrants to Wisconsin, this nut or fruit filled ring shaped treat became the state pastry in 2013.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 


Featured image: Milk is the official beverage of four states in the Great Lakes region. (Photo Credit: GLN) 

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