The United States is a country filled with diversity – and because of that fact, there are lots of different foods for you and your kids to try. If your children are rather adventurous eaters, here are 50 foods for them to try in the 50 U.S. states.
Alabama: Orange Rolls
Think of a cinnamon roll, but swap the holiday spice flavor for a tangy, tart flavor. That’s an orange roll, and it’s quite popular throughout the South. Plus, because it’s a sweet treat, there’s a good chance that your little ones will like it too!
Alaska: Reindeer Dogs
Alaska took a classic kid-friendly dish – the hot dog – and put a little twist on it. Instead of using pork or beef, they use reindeer! That’ll be quite the yummy surprise for your adventurous little eater!
If your children feel very connected to Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzer, and Rudolph, tell them it’s caribou meat instead of reindeer meat. (They are the same animal!)
Arizona: Navajo Tacos
Navajo tacos are aptly named, as it is a combination of puffy Native American fry bread and the tasty toppings of a Mexican taco. What’s there not to like?
Arkansas: Decaf Sun Tea
The all-time classic Southern drink is sun tea. This amber-colored drink is traditionally made by steeping black tea in cold water in a large dispenser, placing it in the sun for a couple of hours, and then stirring in some sort of sweetener. And then, of course, there are the optional slices of lemons and limes on top. To make this kid-friendly, use decaf black tea, or, if you want to be creative, combinations of other sorts of decaffeinated tea, like herbal teas or green tea.
California: Avocado Toast
Californians are always on top of the health trends, and the kids are no exceptions to that rule. A slice of healthy bread topped with fresh avocado, salt, and pepper pull together this tasty snack. If you prefer, you can also find avocado toast topped with tomatoes, eggs, or even bacon!
Colorado: Green Chili
Ask any Coloradoan what one food you need to eat there, and they’ll say green chili. Undeniably, to get your children to eat this dish, the biggest obstacle will be getting them to eat something green. But once you get them past that fact, the roasted pepper and pork flavors will come through, and the dish will likely be a hit!
Connecticut: Apple Cider
Fall in Connecticut means fresh pumpkin, corn, and, most importantly, apples. These apples are then pressed to make some delicious fresh apple cider. Grab you and your kids a couple of refreshing glasses – or maybe even buy a bottle or two to take home!
Delaware: Capriotti’s Bobbie
Capriotti’s Bobbie is Thanksgiving dinner in a sub roll. Complete with turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, it’s packed with flavor. And as implied by the name, the place to get this flavor-laden sandwich is a Delaware-native chain called Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop.
Florida: Gator Nuggets
Florida is famous for its alligators, but did you know that you could eat them? Or even better, did you know that you could convince your kids to eat them in nugget form?
Georgia: Original Chick-Fil-A Sandwich
We all know that kids love Chick-Fil-A. So while you’re in Georgia, why not take them to the site of the original Chick-Fil-A? Located in Hapeville, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, Chick-Fil-A’s original location, known as the Dwarf House, is still standing!
Hawaii: Shave Ice
While you may think shave ice is the same as a shaved ice or even a snow cone, that is not the case. This icy, sweet treat is the perfect way for your little toddler to cool down during a warm day in Hawaii. For the best shave ice in the islands, head to Ululani’s for its natural flavors and fluffy-textured ice.
Idaho: Idaho Ice Cream Potato
At first glance, you may think this dish has a full potato on the plate. But look again! That potato that you think you see is vanilla ice cream coated in cocoa powder! So have each of your kids grab a spoon and dig into that sweet dessert!
Illinois: Chicago-Style Pizza
Americans took pizza from the Italians and wholeheartedly decided to make it their own. And this fact cannot be more evident than through the Chicago-style pizza. Instead of the thin crust that traditional Italians use, Chicagoans deepened the pizza as much as possible and filled it up with similar ingredients to Italian pizza – except in reverse order! In other words, instead of the sauce being the first layer to go on the pizza, it’s the last!
Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie
Sugar cream pie, sometimes also called Indiana cream pie, is a dessert that can be made with just seven ingredients! This tasty treat originated in France and Belgium and eventually made its way to the Midwestern U.S.
Iowa: Puppy Chow
If you’re not from Iowa, there’s a very slim chance that you’ve heard of puppy chow before. This completely human-safe food is an unusual combination of rice cereal squares, peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar.
Kansas: Chili with Cinnamon Rolls
While this might sound like the weirdest combination of foods, Kansans swear by it. This sweet and savory pairing is the epitome of Midwestern comfort food. While most eat the cinnamon roll immediately after finishing off the bowl of chili, others rip off pieces of the cinnamon roll to scoop up the chili!
Kentucky: Fried Chicken
Let’s be real. We knew this was coming. Kids love fried chicken. Kentucky makes fantastic fried chicken. The iconic food for children to try in Kentucky has to be fried chicken. Enough said.
Originally from France, these little fluffy pockets of fried sweet dough were popularized in New Orleans, Louisiana. Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986!
Maine: Blueberry Pie
The small state of Maine is responsible for 10% of all of the blueberries grown in the entire continent of North America, so it’s no surprise that its iconic food has to do with blueberries. While blueberry cobblers, blueberry cakes, and blueberry crispers are all popular within the state, blueberry pie has to be the most iconic (and, consequently, the one you and your little ones should try).
Maryland: Utz Crab Chips
Utz crab chips are potato chips seasoned with Chesapeake Bay Seasoning. Are your kids ready to try this strange new flavor of potato chips?
Massachusetts: Boston Cream Pie
Rumor has it that the Boston cream pie was first invented in the Parker House Hotel in Boston by French chef Augustine Francois Anezin. Now, this cream-filled, chocolate-covered cake is not only a favorite in cake or pie form, but also most famously in doughnut form!
Michigan: Coney Dog
Trying a Coney dog is a must for anyone visiting Michigan. This hot dog is taken to a whole new level, as it is slathered in chili, mustard, and onions. So while your kids might get very messy eating this packed hot dog, they’ll be sure to devour it!
Minnesota: Sweet Martha’s Cookies
These chocolate chips baked by Minnesota-native, Martha Rossini Olson, are so popular that they are bought by the bucket at fairs across the state. The company has such a hard time keeping up with demand (even though they make 30,000 cookies every 12 minutes!) that, at these fairs, they only sell the chocolate chip cookie flavor! If you’re looking for a different flavor, you’re going to have to find their frozen dough in a Minnesota grocery store.
Mississippi: Mississippi Mud Pie
The Mississippi Mud Pie takes the concept of “death by chocolate” to a whole new level. With a crust of crushed chocolate cookies, a layer of flourless chocolate cake, and another layer of chocolate pudding, it is impossible to add any more chocolate to this decadent dessert.
Missouri: Gooey Butter Bar
Gooey butter bars are a crowd favorite in Missouri. With less than a dozen ingredients, they’re surprisingly easy to make too! If you find yourself in St. Louis, cafes and bakeries tend to be stocked with them!
Huckleberries are a special fruit because they only grow in the Northwestern U.S. and Canada. So while you’re in Montana, be sure to buy your family some fresh huckleberries to try.
Nebraska: Cheese Frenchies
Cheese Frenchies are deep-fried grilled cheese sandwiches. What’s not to love?
Nevada: New M&M Flavors at M&M’s World
When encouraging your kids to try new foods, sometimes the best way to do it is to take something very familiar and make a small change. The M&Ms at M&M’s World in Las Vegas, Nevada does just that! On the second floor, you’ll have a chance to try out the new flavors that the company is experimenting with. How cool is that?
New Hampshire: Apple Cider Donuts
Apples are fantastic. Apple cider is even more fantastic. Apple cider donuts are the most fantastic of all. Try them while you’re in New Hampshire.
New Jersey: Pork Rolls Sandwich
A pork roll is New Jersey’s flavor-filled mystery meat, which stars as the center of attention in a pork roll sandwich, alongside some crispy bread, a fried or scrambled egg, and a gooey slice of American cheese. Oh, and if you and your children are breakfast-for-dinner kinds of people, these sandwiches are served across the state all day, every day.
New Mexico: Blue Corn Pancakes
Instead of using the usual white all-purpose flour in all of their pancakes, the people of New Mexico decided to add a little variation by making pancakes with blue corn flour. As usual, this beloved breakfast food is eaten with maple syrup, but if you and your children are feeling a little more adventurous, try it out with some peach or raspberry jam.
New York: New York-Style Pizza
Because we’ve already talked about Chicago-style pizza, it’s only fair to make New York’s iconic food New York-style pizza. After all, the feud is still going. These delicious thin-crust, oil-laden, mozzarella-topped pizza slices are a state-wide favorite.
North Carolina: Cheerwine Float
Despite how the name may sound, a Cheerwine Float does not contain any wine, so it is completely child-friendly! Cheerwine is a cherry soda that was invented in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1917. Mix that with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you’ve got one delicious float!
North Dakota: Jell-O Salad
This North Dakotan salad contains absolutely no vegetables, which will always be considered a plus in the minds of children. Instead of the usual lettuce and tomatoes, the main component of this salad is Jell-O. Sometimes it also includes fruits, whipped topping, and nuts.
Ohio: Cincinnati Chili
When you think of chili you think of beans, onions, and ground beef. Cincinnati chili adds an abundance of additional ingredients to this list, including cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and even unsweetened dark chocolate – all on top of a pile of spaghetti. In a way, it kind of looks like an interesting take on spaghetti and meat sauce. Do you think you’ll be able to convince your kids to try it?
Oklahoma: Chicken Fried Steak
Kids tend to be fans of fried chicken, so why not see if they like a fried piece of steak (a.k.a. chicken fried steak)? This thick piece of meat is usually served with peppered milk gravy on top.
Oregon: Marionberry Jam from Tillamook
Fun fact: Marionberries were developed in 1945 in Corvallis, Oregon. This variant of the blackberry makes up over 50% of the blackberries produced in the state! That’s why marionberry jam from the little ocean-side town of Tillamook made the list.
Pennsylvania: Hoagie Dip
People from Pennsylvania describe hoagie dip as a dip that tastes just like a hoagie. Filled with everything that goes into your favorite sub sandwich, including salami, ham, cheese, mayo, onions, lettuce, tomato, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and a handful of other items, hoagie dip truly encapsulates the flavor of a deconstructed hoagie. To eat it, you must use pieces of sub bread to scoop up the dip, creating the perfect hoagie-like bite.
Rhode Island: Zeppole
While most Americans think of New York as the state filled with Italian-Americans, it’s Rhode Island. 19% of Rhode Island’s population identifies as Italian-American, which is the largest percentage of any state in the U.S. Therefore, the kid-friendly food to try in Rhode Island is an Italian doughnut-like dessert known as a zeppola (plural: zeppole). This fluffy fried dough ball is typically dusted with powdered sugar, and it may be filled with custard, jelly, or pastry cream. No matter how your kids try it, they’ll be begging to have another one!
South Carolina: Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
The simple cheese sandwich. A beloved childhood staple. South Carolina puts a little bit of a kick into this traditional lunch with some spicy pimento peppers! Do you think your child’s palette is up for the fiery challenge?
South Dakota: Kuchen
Kuchen is a type of German cake brought to the U.S. by German immigrants. This cake is different from an ordinary cake, because, rather than having a consistent, fluffy texture, it has a custard-like texture and is filled with fresh fruit.
Tennessee: Ramp Potatoes
A member of the onion family, ramps grow wild in East Tennessee in the spring. Combine these pungent plants with bacon and potatoes to make a hearty, kid-friendly side dish of ramp potatoes.
Texas: Texas-Style BBQ Brisket
If you ask any Texan, they will specify that there are four types of Texas-style BBQ: East, Central, West, and South. However, regardless of the type, Texas-style BBQ brisket is always a favorite.
Utah: Fry Sauce
Utahns are so proud of this French fry dipping sauce that they invented. While at first glance, it seems like just a combination of mayo and ketchup, it turns out that there is a secret ingredient: pickle juice. I know it sounds strange, but Utahns swear that you’ll never be able to eat a French fry without fry sauce ever again.
Vermont: Maple Crème
The state of Vermont is responsible for 42% of the United States’ maple syrup production, so it’s no surprise that they’ve figured out a maple treat of their own: Maple crème. This sweet spread, also called maple butter, is used on waffles, bagels, toast, and even ice cream to add that little touch of sweetness.
Virginia: Chilled Watermelon Soup
Imagine it. You’re sitting on a swing on a porch during a hot summer’s day in Virginia. Wouldn’t you want something nice and cold to cool you down as you are enjoying the weather? And maybe something nice and fruity too to take advantage of the summer produce? Chilled watermelon soup sounds just right.
Washington: Fish and Chips from Ivar’s
Washington is well-known for its fresh seafood. The first attraction you think of when you think of Washington is likely Pike’s Place Market – a place to buy fresh fish! To get your kids a dish made with the catch of the day, head to Ivar’s, where they batter it up and serve it with a side of fries.
West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls
Many West Virginians are proud of the fact that they live in the state that created the delicious Pepperoni roll. This pepperoni-and-cheese-stuffed bread roll originated as food for coal miners to take with them for lunch, and now it’s a treat that can be found all over West Virginia – from restaurants to grocery stores to school cafeterias!
Wisconsin: Fried Cheese Curds
Wisconsin is the state known for cheese. No one will deny that. But then the question becomes which cheese item is worth a try? Ask any Wisconsinite, and there’s a good chance that they’ll tell you to try fried cheese curds. They are sort of like bite-sized fried mozzarella sticks. That sounds pretty kid-friendly to me!
Wyoming: Fresh Jerky
While most of us are used to going to the store and buying beef jerky in a bright red package, Wyomingites have the option of enjoying fresh jerky. And it’s not just beef jerky. They have their choice of bison, elk, game, buffalo, and many more!