The Most Famous Foods Named After U.S. Cities and States [MAP]

When it comes to culinary contributions, the United States has quite a few to take credit for: Take greasy state fair staples like corn dogs and funnel cakes to nationwide classics like cheeseburgers and Reuben sandwiches. When it comes to naming these creations, some may choose to pay homage to themselves, while others opt to pay homage to the region where the recipe was first produced.

But just because a dish shares a name with a city or state doesn’t necessarily mean the dish was actually created there. In fact, some destinations’ namesake dishes were given their titles on the opposite side of the country — or in a different one altogether.

Curious to know which U.S. cities and states boast the most famous namesake foods? Check out our map below to discover everything from the Philly cheesesteak to Mission-style burritos.

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The Most Famous Foods Named After U.S. Cities and States [MAP]

Baked Alaska: Alaska

Despite being named after the 49th state, the baked Alaska was actually created elsewhere, though by who exactly remains a mystery. The dish’s roots trace back to the 19th century when French chefs first created the omelette norwegge, a predecessor to the baked Alaska consisting of layered cake and ice cream encased in broiled meringue. One story suggests that Charles Ranhofer, a Parisian pastry chef at NYC’s Delmonico’s, was the first to make a baked Alaska following the purchase of the territory in 1867. But Ranhofer, who prepared an ice cream and cake dish coated in toasted meringue, called the dish Alaska, Florida, in reference to the temperature difference between the two states and the dessert’s ingredients. At the same time, down in New Orleans, Antoine Alciatore of the French Quarter’s Antoine’s Restaurant was also dishing out something similar. Alciatore, however, opted to flambée the meringue rather than toast it, and reportedly called the dish baked Alaska.

Boston Cream Pie: Boston

Consisting of vanilla cream sandwiched between two layers of buttery sponge cake and topped with chocolate, Boston cream pie was reportedly invented at the city’s Parker House Hotel in 1856 by chef Mossburg Sanzian. The hotel claims to have served the dessert ever since, though it went by numerous names including chocolate cream pie and Parker House chocolate cream pie. It’s unclear as to when the dessert’s name officially changed to Boston cream pie, but in 1996, it was named Massachusetts’ official state dessert.

Buffalo Wings: Buffalo, N.Y.

Now a game day necessity, Buffalo wings were created just 40 years after the formation of the NFL. The most popular origin story of the tailgate classic credits Teressa and Frank Bellissimo of Buffalo, N.Y.’s Anchor Bar as its creators in 1964. One version of the story argues that the restaurant received a shipment of chicken wings instead of backs and necks, so Teressa tossed them in the fryer and coated them with tangy hot sauce so they didn’t go to waste. Another story suggests that the couple’s son, Dominic, came in with friends after a night of drinking and requested a snack and Teressa cobbled together some wings with whatever was left in the kitchen. However, Dominic himself claims that the wings were first created by Frank on a Friday night to provide his Catholic customers with something to eat when the clock struck midnight [during Lent].

Despite the romance of that story, John Young, the owner of Wings N’ Things across the city, was reportedly making Buffalo wings in 1960 — the year the Buffalo Bills joined the NFL.

California Roll: California

Crunchy and refreshing, the California Roll was allegedly first served in the 1960s by Ichiro Mashita at Tokyo Kaikan, a now shuttered sushi restaurant in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo neighborhood. The creation story posits that Mashita, looking for a way to replace fatty tuna when it was out of season, opted for avocado and a bit of crab to retain the seafood flavor. Additionally, the chef — cognizant of his mostly American clientele’s distaste for the appearance of seaweed — rolled the ingredients inside out to encase the crab, cucumber, and avocado concoction in sushi rice. Today, the California Roll is the most popular sushi roll served in the U.S.

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza: Chicago

While it’s impossible to crown one style of pizza as king, Chicagoians will be quick to point to their city’s traditional deep-dish as being the best. Distinguishable from other styles of pizza for its staggering height and thick, doughy crust, and reversed layering method, Chicago deep-dish pizza was reportedly first created by Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo at The Pizzeria, later renamed Pizzeria Uno, in 1943. The style was so popular in the Windy City that the trend quickly spread, and Pizzeria Uno transformed into an international chain, expanding to over 70 locations across the U.S., Honduras, Qatar, India, and Saudi Arabia.

Coney Island Hot Dog: Coney Island, N.Y.

Piled high with meat chili, white onions, and yellow mustard on a steamed bun, the Coney Island hot dog is more than just a chili dog. Despite the summertime staple being named after New York’s iconic amusement hotspot, the hot dog was actually most likely created in Michigan, though several restaurants claim to be the originators of the style. While American Coney Island, Lafayette Coney Island, and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island all claim to be the originators of the coney dog, all three are owned by the families of Greek immigrants, some of which may have passed through Ellis Island — very close to Coney Island — on their way to the Midwest.

Detroit-Style Pizza: Detroit

Square shaped, crispy, and layered in reverse, Detroit-style pizza was actually created at the Motor City’s own Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizzeria in 1946. The East Side restaurant once operated as a speakeasy during American Prohibition, and actually ties into the city’s connections with the automotive industry: The restaurant’s co-owners used metal trays historically used to hold spare parts in automobile factories.

Fig Newton: Newton, Mass.

While many speculate that the Fig Newton is named after Sir Isaac Newton, the small cookie is actually named after Newton, Mass., a town just west of Boston. The fig filling for the cookies is credited to Charles M. Roser, a Philadelphian baker who later sold his recipe to the Kennedy Biscuit Company, a Boston-based company that formulated the cookie and named the concoction after the small town.

Hawaiian Pizza: Hawaii

Hawaiian pizza is clearly named for the tropical state, but the style of pizza actually wasn’t even invented in the U.S. It was created in Canada by Greek immigrant Sam Panopoulos in 1962, three years after Hawaii joined the union — a time when interest in tiki culture was reaching a fever pitch. Shortly after Hawaii became a state, canned pineapple started appearing in continental North America from a brand called Hawaiian, and Panopoulos made the still-controversial decision to pair it with ham as a pizza topping. Today, Hawaiian pizza is still a hotly contested topic in the U.S., but it’s exceedingly popular in Australia.

Hershey’s Chocolate: Hershey, Pa.

While there is now a town named for the chocolate empire, Hershey, Pa., actually did not exist before Milton Hershey moved in. In 1903, Hershey established a community there and built the Hershey Chocolate factory two years later. As the chocolatier’s operations swelled, Hershey expanded the community around the factory by building an amusement park for his employees to work, live, and be entertained. The Hershey Company — which owns brands like Reese’s, Twizzlers, Skinny Pop, and more — remains the dominant industry in the small Pennsylvania town today.

Kentucky Fried Chicken: Kentucky

Founded in 1952 by Colonel Harland Sanders in Salt Lake City, Kentucky Fried Chicken, (now just KFC) is beloved for its crispy buckets seasoned with 11 herbs and spices. But before his secret recipe made its way out West, Colonel Sanders got his start frying chicken at a roadside motel in Corbin, Ky., in the 1930s, thus the chain’s homage to the Southern state.

Key Lime: Florida Keys

Most notable for their starring role in Florida’s official state pie, Key limes arrived in the Florida Keys sometime in the 1800s during a wave of Haitian and Bahamian immigration. Distinguishable from other types of limes for their tiny size, thin skin, and yellow-green color, Key limes have also been referred to as West Indian limes given their Southeast Asian origin.

Manhattan Clam Chowder: Manhattan, N.Y.

Distinctly different from its New England counterpart due to a lack of cream and addition of tomatoes, James Beard once described Manhattan clam chowder as a “rather horrendous soup” that “resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it.” While it’s unclear who first came up with the recipe for the tomato-based dish, many speculate that it was created by Portuguese fishermen in Rhode Island sometime in the 19th century. The Manhattan namesake is believed to potentially be tied to these fishermen’s trips to the Fulton Fish Market in the city. Despite the widely held belief, NYC’s Delmonico’s claims to be the originator of the style.

Mission-Style Burrito: Mission District, San Francisco

Stuffed with rice, beans, meat, cheese, sour cream — and, well, everything else — Mission-style burritos have a reputation for being some of the biggest of the bunch. The burritos, which are named for the Mission District in east-central San Francisco, were first created in 1961 at El Faro by Febronio Ontiveros, who was looking to feed hungry firefighters. Taqueria La Cumbre, which opened in the Mission District in 1969, also claims to be the birthplace of the original Mission burrito.

Mississippi Mud Pie: Mississippi

Rich and chocolaty, Mississippi mud pie tends to include pudding, mousse, ice cream and whipped cream on a graham cracker crust. The dessert’s exact origin is difficult to nail down, and some believe it to be a 1970s iteration of the Mississippi mud cake popularized during World War II. However, it’s likely that the pie is much older, with traces all the way back to 1927 when waitress Jenny Meyer allegedly first compared melted chocolate pie to the mud-filled banks of the Mississippi River. No matter where the dessert came from, it remains beloved in the South, especially in its namesake state.

Monterey Jack Cheese: Monterey, Calif.

Prior to California gaining statehood, the territory was occupied by missionaries, some of whom settled near Monterey Bay and started producing queso blanco país. But when landowner David Jack relocated from New York to California in 1849, he swindled the town of Monterey out of its land and eventually made the move to claim ownership of the cheese, selling it across the Monterey region. Instead of calling it queso blanco país, Jack (who changed his last name to Jacks) called it Jack’s Cheese. As demand increased, the cheese’s name was changed once more to Monterey Jack’s cheese. It wasn’t until 1955 that the name would be officially changed to Monterey Jack cheese by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Nashville Hot Chicken: Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville hot chicken has exploded in popularity in recent years, though its origins trace back to the 1930s with a cook named Thornton Prince. According to Prince’s Hot Chicken, Thornton’s restaurant, the dish was discovered when its founder found himself in hot water with the woman he was dating. The story goes that to seek revenge on Prince for dating other women, his lover dumped an obscene amount of spice on the fried chicken she prepared for him. Instead of struggling through the heat, Prince loved the chicken and perfected the recipe, creating what is now known as Nashville hot chicken.

New York Cheesecake: New York

Distinct from other types of cheesecake for its richer flavor from extra egg yolks, New York cheesecake was created sometime in the 1920s by Arnold Reuben, the same man who invented the Reuben sandwich. Reuben, who owned Manhattan’s Turf Restaurant, allegedly sampled a cheese pie while at a dinner party and later tinkered with the recipe to formulate the first New York cheesecake.

Philly Cheesesteak: Philadelphia

The Philly cheesesteak is arguably Philadelphia’s most famous delicacy. The grilled beef sandwiches were first cooked up in 1930 by Pat and Harry Olivieri, hot dog vendors looking to expand their menu. The original sandwich, served at Pat’s King of Steaks, consisted of just grilled beef and white onion on a toasted roll, though provolone cheese was added to the recipe in the 1940s. Thirty years after the first cheesesteak was made at Pat’s, Geno’s opened directly across the street, and the two joints have been in quiet yet friendly competition with each other ever since. Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a deli not selling a cheesesteak in the City of Brotherly Love.

Smithfield Ham: Smithfield, Va.

Smithfield ham is a fully cooked, pre-sliced ham cured with salt in a specific process outlined by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The commonwealth defines the style of ham as those “processed, treated, smoked, aged, [and] cured by the long-cure, dry salt method of cure; and aged for a minimum period of six months.”

Texas Toast: Texas

Thick, garlicky, and often cheesy, Texas Toast can be traced back to the Pig Stand, a former drive-in food chain with several locations across Texas. While two franchise locations claim to be the first to serve the style of toast, the most widely circulated story points to the Beaumont location as the true originator. The story goes that the Beaumont Pig Stand ordered thicker white bread in an effort to impress customers. The bread was too large to fit into the toasters, so the restaurant’s owner, Royce Hailey, buttered the bread and slapped it on the grill to serve to customers. Now, many brands sell frozen versions of the toast, most of which come pre-prepared with garlic, herbs, and, of course, butter.

Thousand Island Dressing: Thousand Islands Archipelago

Defined by its creamy texture and tangy, salty, and slightly sweet flavor, thousand island dressing was allegedly created by Sophia LaLonde in Clayton, N.Y. Her husband, George LaLonde Jr., made a living guiding fishermen through the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River and provided meals for his tour parties. One portion of the meal was finished with “Sophia’s Sauce,” the recipe for which was later shared with the Bertrand family, who owned the Herald Hotel. There, the dressing was first served to the public, where it was supposedly sampled by actress Mary Irwin and given its present-day name.