Each State’s Favorite Breakfast (Slideshow)
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The most important meal of every state’s day
Alabama: Blackberry Anything
The official fruit of Alabama is the blackberry, and residents have found ways to add it to almost every meal — including breakfast — in baked goods like muffins, scones, cobblers, and pancakes, as well as in jams and jellies. Of course they can be eaten right off the vine too!
Akutaq might be nicknamed “Eskimo Ice Cream,” but that doesn’t stop Alaskans from eating it at any meal — including breakfast. Made with fresh, wild berries; whipped fat and oil from reindeer, moose, walrus, caribou, or seal; and often fish; akutaq is a delicacy that’s made to be eaten while traveling, hunting, fishing, or otherwise on the go.
Arizona: Machaca Breakfast Burro
Arizona shares its southern border with the Mexican state of Sonora, and the food reflects the geography. To combine numerous local favorites, order a deep-fried chimichanga or a breakfast burrito — sometimes called a “burro” — with machaca (dried, spiced beef or pork), green chiles, and eggs, wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla.
Arkansas: Sweet Rice
While oatmeal is a breakfast staple for a lot of Americans, Arkansas, being the top producer of rice in the country, makes a rice-based version with sugar, milk, and a bit of butter (and sometimes cinnamon, vanilla, and/or cocoa) that is often served at the start of the day. Although similar to rice pudding, it is usually referred to as “sweet rice” or “sugared rice.”
With the hip, health-focused attitude often associated with California, fruit smoothies have been a favorite way for locals to start their days for more than 40 years. Packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, Californians can take their meals on the go with this blended breakfast. Bonus points if it includes one of the state’s most popular fruits: the avocado.
Colorado: Cinnamon Roll
While many states have named an official food or official fruit, Colorado has an official pastry: the cinnamon roll. Numerous eateries (like Johnson’s Corner and Duffeyroll Cafe) have claimed to make the best, and the fierce competition has made the sweet treat ubiquitous in the Rocky Mountain State.
Connecticut: Lobster Benedict
When in New England, lobster can turn up at just about any meal, including breakfast, like in this seafood spin on the classic eggs Benedict. Although this succulent dish can be found in numerous states, many Connecticut establishments claim it as originating in their state, and we’ll take their word for it.
Something called “scrapple” or “pan rabbit” might not sound great (especially when one reads the preparation description) but trust us — it is. Made of pork trimmings, spices, cornmeal, white flour, and often buckwheat, the mush is turned into a semi-solid congealed loaf, sliced, and pan-fried on its way to becoming one of Delaware’s most popular breakfast dishes.
Florida: Cuban Breakfast
With a combination of the influence from nearby Cuba and the constant need to stay in beach shape, Floridians often start their days with a simple and healthy breakfast of coffee, toast, and fruit. To turn it local, make the drink a café con leche, the bread a tostada, and the fruit a juicy, freshly-picked orange or grapefruit.
Georgia: Biscuits & Gravy
Flaky biscuits covered in savory sausage gravy are popular all around the South, but the idea originated with the early settlers and became popular with plantation farmers after the Revolutionary War, so we’ll give the nod to Georgia for this starchy breakfast staple.
Hawaii: Loco Moco
Loco moco is the ultimate Hawaiian comfort food, especially following a night of too many tropical drinks. The dish is comprised of gravy atop a fried egg atop a hamburger patty atop white, sticky rice, and its history dates back to the 1940s, when it was used as an inexpensive way to keep the children happy and full. Since it’s Hawaii, Spam can also be added to the meal.
Idaho: Potato Anything
Whether it’s with breakfast, lunch, or dinner (and possibly dessert!), you can’t go wrong asking for Idaho potatoes. For a delicious start to the day, order a plate of potato pancakes, a side of hash browns, or an Idaho sunrise — a baked potato stuffed with a baked egg and cheese.
Pączki are deep-fried Polish pastries — similar to doughnuts, but with richer dough — usually filled with confiture and topped with sugar or icing. Depending on where you are in the world, Pączki Day is celebrated on either the last Thursday or last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (“Fat Thursday” or “Fat Tuesday”). Just to be safe, Chicago celebrates the festival on both days. Although, due to the state’s large Polish celebration, it might seem like every day is Pączki Day.
Indiana: Fried Cornmeal Mush
Straight out of Amish Country, fried cornmeal mush is a breakfast staple all over the state of Indiana. A simple dish made of only cornmeal, water, and salt boiled together, cooled, and cut, it is usually consumed with maple syrup or sausage gravy.
Iowa: Muscatine Melons
If you want a quality melon, what better place to go than Muscatine, Iowa, the “Watermelon Capital of the World?” The melon industry may not be booming as much as it used to, but Iowans still know their southeastern town produces the best on the planet, and residents and visitors alike shouldn’t have any trouble finding a juicy, local melon to sink their teeth into at breakfast time.
Nothing says breakfast like a bowl of hot oatmeal and there is plenty of oatmeal to go around in Kansas.
Kentucky: Chicken and Waffles
Alright, maybe associating fried chicken with Kentucky is a bit too easy, but someone has to take credit for being the home of chicken and waffles, and the Bluegrass State cooks up the former ingredient as good as or better than anyone else. If Kentuckians are proud of their poultry, the rest of the country can follow suit.
Served at either breakfast or dessert, the beignet is a New Orleans specialty made with fried, raised pieces of yeast dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar, like a square-shaped doughnut without a hole. In fact, Louisiana named the beignet the official state doughnut in 1986, and locals often use the terms interchangeably.
Maine: Blueberry Pancakes
Sure, Maine is famous for its lobster, but when the second and third best items in the state are wild blueberries and maple syrup, combining the two to form one spectacular breakfast is hard to pass up. Besides, you can still have lobster for lunch and dinner, so what’s the rush?
Maryland: Crab Cake Benedict
Like New Englanders trying to sneak lobster onto their poached eggs, Maryland locals can’t help but add a crab cake to theirs. The exact ingredients can be changed from eatery to eatery, as long as the dish is made from fresh, juicy crab — especially the state’s signature Chesapeake blue ones!
Massachusetts: Boston Cream Donut
This might seem a bit obvious, but there’s no doubting folks from Massachusetts love their Dunkin’ Donuts, and have gone as far as naming the Boston cream donut their official state doughnut back in 2003. Not a fan of Dunkin’? The custard-filled, chocolate-topped creation can be found at different bakeries all across the state (and country)!
Pannukakku is basically a Finnish pancake made with essentially the same ingredients, but with the addition of lemon, and baked instead of pan-fried. A large population of immigrants from Finland brought it to Michigan decades ago, and the food and its new home have been in a love affair together ever since.
Minnesota: Tater Tot Hotdish
The words “tater tot” and “casserole” might not seem like they go together, but in Minnesota they are often combined into one tasty meal, called Tater Tot Hotdish, which can be altered for every time of day. At lunch or dinner, it might contain green beans, corn, or other vegetables, but at breakfast it can include eggs, bacon, cheese, and anything else desired.
Mississippi: Fried Catfish
Mississippians love their catfish so much, they’ll find any excuse to sneak it into a meal, even in the morning. Traditionally eaten for lunch or dinner, catfish can be fried up and easily added to a breakfast sandwich or served on a plate along with eggs, hash browns, grits, or any other side.
Missouri: Gooey Butter Cake
The best types of cakes are the ones you can eat for breakfast. On that note, Missouri definitely got things right with gooey butter cake, a flat, dense cake made with wheat cake flour, butter, sugar, eggs, sometimes cream cheese, and dusted with powdered sugar. Although sweet and rich, the dish’s firmness is more akin to a brownie, but is thankfully served like a coffee cake.
Montana: Steak and Eggs
If your state has the most farmland in America (behind Texas), then your breakfast needs to provide enough energy to fuel a full day’s labor. Steak and eggs, packed with ample amounts of protein, is a solid and common way to start off the day in Montana. It helps that Big Sky Country also has some of the best land for the grazing and raising of cattle too.
Although they originally hail from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, kolache are incredibly popular in the Midwest — several cities hold kolache festivals every year. Nebraska has a couple of the biggest celebrations in the United States for these semi-sweet puff pastries that hold a dollop of fruit in the center, and thus the breakfast and dessert item has found its way into many resident’s daily lives.
It might be unfair to lump the dining habits of visitors in with that of the permanent residents, but with the amount of tourism in Las Vegas and Reno, it’s hard not to. After all, when tourists in both cities wake up and realize they may have drunk and spent a bit too much the night before, an all-you-can-eat buffet is a logical solution to both of these problems.
New Hampshire: French Toast
Although not the top producer of maple syrup (more on that later), New Hampshire is firmly situated between three of the top producers of syrup in the country, and also shares a border with Canada. We’ve already assigned pancakes and waffles to other states, so in the interest of not repeating, New Hampshire gets the next logical breakfast dish on which to pour delicious maple goodness: French toast.
New Jersey: Pork Roll
Also known as “Taylor Ham,” the pork roll was reportedly invented in 1856 by John Taylor and is sliced and pan-fried or grilled ham (or Spam). The most popular breakfast item generally consists of pork roll on a bun or bagel, with a fried egg, American cheese, sometimes lettuce and/or tomato, and topped with condiments such as salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. It has also been called a “Jersey Breakfast.”
New Mexico: Sopapilla
New Mexicans draw a thin line between breakfast and other meals. Enchiladas, carne adovada, and basically anything else can be eaten in the mornings, but we went with sopapilla, the pillow-shaped, fried pastries that can be stuffed with a number of fillings, including meat, eggs, beans, and cheese. Just do yourself a favor and incorporate green or red chiles (especially ones from the village of Hatch) somewhere in your meal.
New York: Bagels
Apologies to New Yorkers living outside of New York City, but when the best bagels in the world come from somewhere in your state, it needs to be acknowledged. For the epitome of a New York breakfast, order your fresh bagel with a schmear of cream cheese and some lox or smoked salmon.
North Carolina: Livermush
Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / Dale Haas / Public Domain
Not every North Carolinian clamors for livermush, the product of combining pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal into a loaf that’s fried with grease and served alongside eggs and grits, but there’s no denying the love is there: Shelby, North Carolina, has hosted an annual Livermush Exposition for the last 30 years to celebrate it.
North Dakota: Lefse
The traditional soft Norwegian flatbread known as “lefse” is made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream, and is cooked on a griddle. In North Dakota, home of the annual Lutefisk and Lefse Festival in Fargo, the treat is worked into every meal from dessert to breakfast, where it is rolled up with jelly, cream cheese, peanut butter, or ham and eggs inside.
Although goetta, a meat-and-grain sausage patty made of pork and/or beef, is of Germanic origin, it is quite popular in Ohio, especially in the Cincinnati area. Glier’s Goetta is the largest commercial producer, but locals also cook their own homemade versions, and usually eat them for breakfast along with condiments like ketchup, syrup, or even grape jelly.
Oklahoma: Corn Muffins
Oklahoma’s state treat (because that’s a thing) is cornbread, or its breakfast counterpart, corn muffins. Easy enough for even the most baking-averse amateur chefs to tackle, people in Oklahoma have blurred the line between bread and muffin by using a cast-iron skillet to prepare the dish, giving it a more delicious, harder, and browner crust on the bottom.
When Oregonians were unhappy with their current berry options, the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Oregon State University responded by creating the marionberry (not to be confused with former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry), a hybrid of the flavorful Chehalem berry and the larger, better-producing Olallie berry. Perfectly adapted to Oregon’s growing conditions, the marionberry can be enjoyed year-round as a breakfast addition, or as a meal all by itself.
A Pennsylvania Dutch creation, fasnacht is the name of both a festival (which takes place the day before Lent begins) and the fried doughnuts served on that day. Traditionally made as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter before religious fasting, the square or circular pastries can be purchased year-round in Pennsylvania, especially in the eastern part of the state.
Rhode Island: Johnny Cakes
Although the exact name (Johnny cakes, johnnycakes, journeycakes, etc.) and ingredients (milk or water?) are hotly debated, there’s no doubt that Rhode Island made the pancake-like cornmeal patties famous in the 350-plus years since their inception. Whether eaten with butter and syrup in the morning, as a substitute for potatoes or rice later in the day, or topped with dessert ingredients in the evening, Johnny cakes have a storied history of deliciousness.
South Carolina: Grits
Grits are an immensely popular, corn-based breakfast side-dish across the South, but it’s safe to say that South Carolinians take them the most seriously. In fact, the South Carolina State code of laws has an entire section (Title 39 – Trade and Commerce, Chapter 29) devoted to the classification and preparation of grits.
South Dakota: Kuchen
Kuchen was named the official dessert of South Dakota in 2000, and luckily for locals and tourists, it is perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast too. Although “kuchen” literally just translates to “cake,” in South Dakota, the term usually refers to a crumby, coffee-cake-like treat which can also contain cottage cheese or fruit like apples, gooseberries, and peaches.
Tennessee: Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes have been a Southern staple for generations, and what better place to eat them than Tennessee (where the state fruit is the tomato)? Numerous restaurants offer this dish, but even amateur chefs can easily slice up an unripe tomato at home, coat it with cornmeal, and fry it in fat or oil. Add a little salt and pepper, and voilà: a Southern tradition.
Texas: Breakfast Tacos
When a state shares a large portion of its border with Mexico, there’s bound to be some influence, even during morning mealtime. Enter breakfast tacos, a Tex-Mex tradition. Made with salsa and bacon, egg, cheese, potato, or any other breakfast ingredient, these burritos aren’t just found throughout the whole state, but are often served all day as well.
Utah: Utah Scones
The term “Utah scone” probably evokes visions of a muffin-top-like pastry, but the state’s signature breakfast food is actually more akin to fried dough, since it is fried instead of baked, light and fluffy in consistency, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Except in the case of Utah scones, honey and syrup is traditionally drizzled on top.
Vermont: Maple Syrup
Despite being a relatively small state, Vermont produces more maple syrup than any other state — 1.3 million gallons from over 1,500 sugar houses statewide. Sure, syrup can’t be a meal all by itself, but you can’t go wrong pouring some on top of waffles, pancakes, fruit, meat, or in oatmeal.
Virginia: Country Ham Biscuits
When your state is famous for having super-salty, perfectly-cured ham and some of the best biscuits around, the most logical meal is a combination of the two. Although consumers might be tempted to add a whole host of other ingredients, a bit of butter or mustard is all this brilliant breakfast needs.
It might not be the most balanced breakfast, but nowhere in America are residents more likely to wake up and have a cup of Joe than in Washington. And although the state is the birthplace of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best, there is also a seemingly-endless number of smaller, independent coffee shops to choose from every morning. Portland, Oregon, might be a trendier location to get java, but Washington is still the Mecca.
West Virginia: Buckwheat Pancakes
For the last 75 years, Preston County, West Virginia, has held its famous Buckwheat Festival, celebrating the light, foamy, and earthy-tasting breakfast food that has been a favorite in the region since the American pioneer days. Gluten-intolerant folks have reason to rejoice as well: Buckwheat pancakes are a gluten-free food!
The official pastry of Wisconsin is the kringle, a Danish pastry made of dough that has been rested overnight before shaping, filling, and baking. Although a pretzel shape is common in Europe, ovals, topped with icing are common in the United States. But fear not, cheeseheads. In addition to fruits or nuts, kringles can also be filled with cream cheese.
Wyoming: Sourdough Pancakes
Sourdough pancakes have been around in America since the Gold Rush days, when miners and other prospectors ate them for every meal. Wyoming (also home of the Sourdough Glacier) has kept the tradition going, with one local woman claiming to own a sourdough starter (a pre-ferment or “mother dough”) that dates back to 1889 — a year prior to Wyoming becoming a state!