We’ve all know how much Philly loves its cheesesteaks. But you know what the data tells us? The most distinctive menu item in Pennsylvania restaurants isn’t the cheesesteak. It’s actually the hoagie.
Co.Design teamed up with food industry analytics firm Food Genius to mine its database of 88,000 menus and 59 million menu items and build this map of the each state’s true crown jewel food. What you’re looking at isn’t the most popular food by state. It’s the food that most distinguishes them from the rest of the pack.
Pennsylvania claims the hoagie because it’s on more than a third of menus across the state, while only 6% of menus nationwide have hoagies on them. Meanwhile, it’s actually New Jersey that claims the cheesesteak as its most distinctive dish, not because it’s on more menus than it is in Pennsylvania, but because, with all respect to New Jersey, the state has nothing more original on its menus.
But to really see how food trends play out, we’d recommend toggling through each of Food Genius’s five most distinctive regional food trends. Cheesesteaks are on the list, along with green chilis, green bell peppers, ranch dressing, and pecans.
What you’ll see is in many ways a better portrait of our weird eating habits. Cheesesteaks are an East Coast meal, green chilis quite literally blossom out of New Mexico, green bell peppers dominate the north, pecans are beloved in the South (and for some reason, South Dakota), and ranch dressing is slathered across the Northwest to the Southeast because ranch goes great on everything. Except New York.–Mark Wilson