By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yogurt became New York's official state snack on Wednesday, joining the likes of popcorn and salty boiled peanuts among popular foods honored by U.S. states.
New York has become the nation's top yogurt producer amid the booming popularity of strained Greek-style yogurt, the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Cuomo signed a bill making it the official state snack.
"Designating yogurt as the official state snack will continue to raise public awareness of the economic and health benefits of yogurt and the dairy industry," the governor's office said.
Only a handful of states have official snacks. South Carolina has boiled peanuts, Texas has tortilla chips and salsa, Illinois has popcorn and Utah has Jell-O.
New York state produced 741 million pounds (336 million kg) of yogurt last year, accounting for 16 percent of total U.S. production, the governor's statement said.
Two leading brands of the thick Greek-style yogurt, Ciobani and Fage, have large production plants in New York.Dairy manufacturers in New York employed about 9,500 people with total wages of $513 million in 2013, up from about 8,000 jobs and $401 million in wages in 2010.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney)