The Best Snack in Every State

Updated: Mar. 08, 2024

Sweet or salty? Yes, please! These are the best snacks in the U.S.A., from cactus candy to crab fries.

Ah, snacks—the food we love to indulge in. There’s no shortage of these marvelous munchies, from dips oozing with cheesy goodness to sandwiches and burgers that deliciously flood our tastebuds. Everyone has their favorite snack—but which delightful bites are considered the best snacks around?

Well, we partnered with our friends at Taste of Home to answer that burning question. And, turns out, snacks are some of America’s favorite foods. We searched high and low for the best snack in every state, compiling an impressive list that includes state foods, local eats and more. Did your favorite snack make the cut? Read on to find out—and learn some impressive food facts along the way!

Alabama: Golden Flake fried pork skins

Statue of Liberty holding a bowl of fried pork skinsTMB Studio

Even rival Alabama and Auburn sports fans found common ground over their love of Golden Flake potato chips. Although Utz bought the brand in 2016, Golden Flake fried pork skins (also called chicharrones) are still sold under that beloved name and come in some of the same flavors, including crowd -favorite Sweet Heat Barbecue.

Alaska: Smoked salmon spread

Folks in the Last Frontier take pride in their fresh-caught salmon, which many Alaskans whip into a spread with cream cheese, herbs, lemon juice and horseradish.

Arizona: Cactus candy

Made at the Cactus Candy Co. in Phoenix since 1942, these pink gumdrop squares are flavored with the bright juice of the prickly pear cactus, which tastes of watermelon, bubble gum and lemon.

Arkansas: Cheese dip

What some call queso is cheese dip here, and both fancy and no-frills versions of the magic melty cheese are embraced all over Arkansas, which hosts an annual World Cheese Dip Championship in Little Rock each fall.

California: Guacamole

Guacamole in an avocado shaped molcajeteTMB Studio

In a state practically synonymous with avocado, it’s no wonder the guac is so good. Golden Staters mash up the green stuff with just a sprinkle of salt, a splash of citrus and perhaps a pinch of onion.

Colorado: Green chili fries

Order chili cheese fries in Colorado, and your spuds will come not with the run-of-the-mill beef chili on top, but instead with chili verde—a rich and subtle pork stew made with green chile peppers—plus a mountain of melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese.

Connecticut: Apizza

Slices of New Haven–style apizza (yes, apizza)—crispy, coal-fired and light on the cheese—abound at Connecticut’s popular pizzerias, several of which use “Apizza” in their names. The term is an endearing imitation of pizza said with a thick Neapolitan accent, a direct contrast to the pie’s signature thin crust.

Delaware: Slippery dumplings

Unlike traditional dumplings, these Delmarvalous ones are rectangular—and swimming in so much chicken gravy they’ll slide all over your plate.

Florida: Chifles plantain chips

The potassium-rich crisps first took off in Tampa in 1963 and now do so regularly aboard JetBlue. The airline known for its unlimited snacks started passing out Chifles (pronounced CHIEF-less) to hungry passengers last year.

Georgia: Pecan pralines

Pecan pralines on a pedestalTMB Studio

While the original French recipe calls for almonds, authentic Georgia pralines are made with pecans. The state ranks first in pecan production, and bakers pack the nuts into these caramelized clusters with the consistency of fudge.

Hawaii: Spam musubi

A symphony of savory and sweet in a three-bite treat: pan-fried Spam (the canned lunch meat is beloved across the islands), teriyaki sauce and sticky white rice wrapped up with seaweed.

Idaho: Finger steaks

Mylo Bybee created finger-length fried steaks and made them famous when he opened Mylo’s Torch Lounge in Boise in the late 1950s. Most folks enjoy these breaded delicacies by the basketful with cocktail sauce.

Illinois: Popcorn

Popcorn in the shape of IllinoisTMB Studio

Cracker Jack is beloved at ballparks, but Garrett popped corn is even more popular across Illinois—especially the caramel and cheddar mix.

Indiana: Corn dog

Synonymous with summer nights in the Hoosier state, these battered-up, deep-fried hot dogs on sticks are also the namesake of Indiana’s newest pre-professional baseball team: The Lake County Corn Dogs.

Iowa: Walking taco

Skip the tortilla and shake your taco fillings into a bag of crushed Doritos or Fritos, and you’ve got a taco you can take with you. Whether this originated at the Iowa State Fair is up for debate. Hawkeyes’ affinity for it is not.

Kansas: Fried chicken

It falls off the bone at famed chicken houses Stroud’s, Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s. Smart Kansans fry up enough to leave leftovers to munch on the next day.

Kentucky: Bourbon balls

In 1936, candymaker Ruth Booe overheard someone say that the two best tastes in the world were Kentucky bourbon and her chocolate. So she whipped up a melt-in-your-mouth combination of both. Customers even gave Booe their sugar rations during World War II so she could keep making batches of the boozy truffles.

Louisiana: Zapp’s potato chips

“Zapp’s are an iconic Louisiana snack food,” says Laura Herbage, a Community Cook at Taste of Home. Her favorite flavors: Spicy Crawtator (crawfish), Voodoo (vinegar, BBQ seasoning and jalapeño) and Cajun Dill (dill pickle) Gator-Tators.

Maine: Whoopie pie

Whoopie pies on pedestalsTMB Studio

At least three other states lay claim to the invention of this cake/cookie hybrid. But Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston seems to have sold them first. Now the official state treat, a Maine whoopie pie is a hearty handful. The joy of discovering one in your lunchbox would make anyone exclaim “Whoopie!”

Maryland: Crab fries

These taters come topped with Old Bay seasoning, a sweet and spicy blend that goes on just about everything in Maryland: seafood, popcorn, even Bloody Marys. Some crabby consumers take crab fries a step further and add actual crabmeat and melted cheese to the mix.

Massachusetts: Fried clams

More than 150 craveworthy clam shacks dot the Bay State. Top favorite Woodman’s of Essex claims to be the birthplace of fried clams, having made the first briny batch back in 1916.

Michigan: Better Made potato chips

In 1930, the Detroit company’s co-­founders set out to make a better chip, hence the name. Of Motor City’s more than 20 original potato chip companies, only Better Made is still around.

Minnesota: Honeycrisp apple

Honeycrisp apples in a stackTMB Studio

Horticulturists at the University of Minnesota planted the original Honey­crisp seedling—a cross of Macoun and Honeygold apples—in 1962, with hopes of developing a winter-hardy tree that bore juicier, crunchier fruit. Consumers took their first bites of the lip-smacking, explosively crisp apple in 1992 and were instantly smitten.

Mississippi: Cheese straws

Before they had fridges, Southern cooks would knead cheese into their leftover biscuit dough and bake it in strips. Mississippians kept churning out the crisps after kitchen technology caught up, including the Yerber family of Yazoo City, who founded the Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory.

Missouri: Toasted ravioli

Fried ravioli and tomato sauce on a pedestalTMB Studio

Strictly speaking, these pillows of pasta are fried, not toasted. But menus in Missouri were never the same after a not-­entirely-sober St. Louis chef dropped ravioli in the fryer and thought to salvage them with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Montana: Jerky

Ranchers and outdoor-adventure seekers in Big Sky Country have long counted on seasoned strips of cured beef, elk or bison meat as the ultimate pack-along energy boost.

Nebraska: Runza

These stuffed bread bundles have German-Russian roots. Brimming with seasoned ground beef, cabbage and onions, the savory parcels are so beloved in Nebraska that we’ve named them the state sandwich and signature dish in previous years. The runza’s snack status was a shoo-in too, considering that many fans call them the original Hot Pockets.

Nevada: Shrimp cocktail

Landlocked, schmandlocked: Nevada goes through 60,000 pounds of shrimp a day, much of which hangs from the edges of martini glasses full of cocktail sauce. The Golden Gate Casino in Las Vegas served the first glassful in 1959 for only 50 cents. These days you’ll find them all over the state—just not for that price.

New Hampshire: Port City pretzels

These popular pretzels come in four flavors: Cinnamon Sugar, Feisty Hot!, Tangy Mustard ’N Honey and Tasty Ranch Dill. The company, based in Portsmouth, is women-owned, and the majority of its employees are disabled.

New Jersey: Saltwater taffy

Saltwater taffy in the shape of New JerseyTMB Studio

Boardwalk strollers know that stretching the colorful stripes of Atlantic City’s first (and most popular) souvenir is almost as fun as eating it. Almost.

New Mexico: Biscochitos

Stacks of these fragrant shortbread cookies are holiday favorites, but they pair perfectly with a warm beverage any time of year. The lard in the ­recipe gives them a flaky texture, while notes of anise and cinnamon (plus a nip of rum or brandy) constitute their signature flavor.

New York: Buffalo wings

Buffalo wings with ranch and celery on a pedestalTMB Studio

Though state officials designated yogurt as the official snack, New Yorkers know that Buffalo wings (or just “wings,” if you’re in Buffalo) are far more fun. Most come with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks on the side, but the Buffalo sauce steals the show. It’s a heavenly combination of hot sauce and more butter than any aficionado would care to admit.

North Carolina: Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Tar Heels take a detour when they see the hot light come on, indicating that a fresh batch of original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts is ready to devour.

North Dakota: Chippers

For those who can’t decide between sweet and savory, North Dakota has just the thing: potato chips covered in chocolate. Carol Widman’s Candy Co., which claims to have invented the treat, uses Red River Valley chips, another state staple.

Ohio: Buckeyes

This hand-rolled ball of peanut ­butter and chocolate is at every holiday gathering, church potluck or tailgate, says Taste of Home Community Cook Kristyne McDougle Walter. Leaving a small portion of the peanut butter balls uncoated when you dip them in smooth chocolate makes them resemble their namesake nut all the more.

Oklahoma: Fried okra

The top snack for Sooners gets fried in bacon drippings and Crisco, but an oven-baked version that uses canola oil cooking spray instead is A-OK with the American Heart Association.

Oregon: Hazelnuts

A handful of hazelnuts tastes great in a trail mix. And since 99% of the country’s commercial crop comes from Oregon, there are plenty of handfuls here to go around. But hazelnuts are even more heavenly when churned into ice cream. Portland-based Salt and Straw and the nationally known Tillamook brands both offer flavors with Oregon-grown hazelnuts.

Pennsylvania: Soft pretzels

Pennsylvanians prefer their pretzels big, soft and topped with mustard. “A true Pennsylvania Dutch snack,” says Taste of Home Community Cook Susan Bickta, though today they’re mostly made in Philadelphia, where there’s a vendor on virtually every corner and the knots look more like figure eights.

Rhode Island: Calamari

Outside the Ocean State, calamari is commonly confused with octopus, but not by anyone who speaks Italian. (Calamaro means squid.) Here, calamari comes deep-fried, sautéed in garlic butter and paired with hot peppers.

South Carolina: Boiled peanuts

The Palmetto State’s peanuts are unlike any other, and not even all that nutty. When boiled, they become beanlike in taste and texture. Southerners swear by them.

South Dakota: Chislic

Cubes of fried lamb or mutton come hot on a skewer or toothpick and sprinkled with garlic salt and hot sauce, with saltine crackers on the side. The state’s official “nosh” as of 2018, chislic has sizzled since long before South Dakota became a state.

Tennessee: Goo Goo Cluster

Some say the “Goo” in Goo Goo Clusters (chocolate candy filled with marshmallow nougat, caramel and roasted peanuts) is an acronym for Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. In fact, it was baby talk by the son of inventor Howell Campbell Sr. that gave life to its name, as well as its slogan: “It’s so good, people will ask for it from birth.”

Texas: Tortilla chips and salsa

This power couple just celebrated 20 years of being the official state snack of Texas. Whether hot with jalapeño or tangy with tomatillos, salsa flows as freely here as baskets of warm chips to the table.

Utah: Fries with fry sauce

Made famous by local burger chain Arctic Circle, this zippy pink dip, a mix of mayo and ketchup, sometimes with spices, garlic and even pickle brine, is ubiquitous with fries across Utah.

Vermont: Maple sugar on snow

Drizzle hot maple syrup over freshly crushed ice (using snow is the old-school way), then twirl the sticky syrup onto a wooden pop stick. Serve it Vermont-­style with a plump cake doughnut and a pickle on the side: ­Locals say the sour balances the sweet.

Virginia: Ham biscuits

Whether it’s a cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvre or a nibble from the country store, these hand-size ham sandwiches (with a dab of mustard, if you like) are a Commonwealth craving.

Washington: Rainier cherries

A cross between the Bing and Van varieties, Rainier cherries have some of the highest sugar levels of sweet cherries. If you miss their short growing season, you can always snag a bag of dried ones from Chukar Cherries.

West Virginia: Pepperoni rolls

Pepperoni rolls stacked verticallyTMB Studio

What began as a practical, easily packable coal miner’s lunch has become an anytime Mountain State munch: pepperoni baked into bread dough.

Wisconsin: Fried cheese curds

Cheese curds and dipping sauce on pedestalsTMB Studio

Also called squeaky cheese (because that’s the noise they make as you eat them), cheese curds transform into crispy, gooey decadence when beer-battered and deep-fried. Taste of Home editor Lara Eucalano says these golden nuggets, often dunked in ranch, are Wisconsinites’ go-to at a brewery or while rooting for the Brewers or Bucks.

Wyoming: Sunflower seeds

Sunflowers flourish in Wyoming, and their seeds are fun to spit while you ride through the Cowboy State.

Still feeling snacky after reading this list? Find out what your favorite snack is, according to your zodiac sign.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest