State Desserts

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

state desserts are part of the official symbolism decreed by state legislatures to represent the various traditions and natural resources of the 50 U.S. states. These symbols range from official state poems and state toys to state firearms and state dinosaurs. Nearly half of America’s states have some sort of official state dessert, treat, or sweet snack, reflecting the country’s well-known sweet tooth.

Pie, that classic American dessert, is by far the most common official state sweet. See pie. Delaware, a leading producer of peaches in the nineteenth century, represents itself with a warm, perfumed wedge of peach pie, while Florida’s pick is Key lime pie, a creamy, sweet-tart mix of condensed milk and eggs flavored with the tiny, yellow-skinned Key limes indigenous to the islands off the South Florida coast. Citizens of Indiana adore sugar cream pie, in particular the “Hoosier pie” (“Hoosier” is a nickname for an Indianan), a custard pie combining sugar, butter, and cream that originated with the state’s Amish and Quaker communities. See cream pie. In summer the fields of Maine are overgrown with wild blueberries, which are smaller and tarter than their domesticated cousins, and they become the key ingredient in wild blueberry pie, Maine’s official state pie. Oklahoma and Texas go nuts for pecan pie, made from the fruit of a species of hickory tree native to both states. Traditional pecan pie combines pecans and corn syrup (either light or dark). See corn syrup. Texas also has an official cobbler—peach cobbler—to honor the state’s love of sweet, juicy peaches. More rustic than pie, cobbler consists of fruit baked in a pan with a biscuit or batter topping. See fruit desserts, baked. It is a popular dessert throughout the American South. The chilly New England state of Vermont is famous for its apples, making apple pie appropriate as its state symbol, even though the pie is beloved throughout the United States. See united states.