By: Adam Lapetina
Hopefully we're all familiar, by now, with Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. It's supposedly a regional food, but that's a difficult designation to stand by when there's a Pizzeria Uno franchise in about half of the states in the country (and three in Puerto Rico!). It's become an American food, which, while a noble distinction, opens up the spotlight for even more weird and wonderful hyper-regional foods that are hiding around our great nation. Buckle up your giant barrel of frying oil, folks, because we're going on a tour of America's lesser-known food territories.
Oh, and make sure the lid is secure.
Where you can find it: Wyoming & the Dakotas, mainly
Why deep-fried steak isn't everywhere is a mystery, but we're guessing it's because whoever invented it is in a coma. The process for pitchfork fondue -- which you can get at cowboy cookouts and some restaurants -- is pretty simple. You get some big-ass hunks of meat and a vat of hot oil or lard. Then skewer the meat on said pitchfork and BAM! America.
Chow mein sandwich
Where you can find it: Fall River, MA
One Chinese menu item you might not find outside of this small area in Massachusetts is the chow mein sandwich, which takes chow mein (made with a special type of crispy noodle native to the region) and stuffs it into a bun for an even more portable eating experience.
Where you can find it: Utah
One day, at your funeral from eating too many servings of funeral potatoes, people will eat funeral potatoes, because this communal dish of creamy condensed soup, cheese, onions, garlic, and potatoes (that is typically covered with potato chips or corn flakes) is a staple at some pretty morbid functions in Utah.
Where you can find them: Kentucky
You might think lamb fries are French fries covered with delicious lamb, but apparently, you missed the Chevy Chase not-classic Funny Farm. Because they're lamb testicles. This is the first in a series of entries on this list that will make it glaringly apparent that Kentucky is a strange place.
Credit: Flickr/Scott Beale
Where you can find it: Cincinnati, OH
This oft-maligned dish -- there are some who wouldn't even consider it chili -- is one of the emblematic foods of Cincinnati locals, many of whom are fiercely proud of it, and many of whom won't touch it either. It usually consists of a meaty, spiced sauce ladled over spaghetti or a hot dog and topped with a mountain of shredded cheddar cheese and beans.
Where you can find it: Massachusetts
The Fluffernutter is the unofficial state sandwich of Massachusetts, and it combines peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on white bread. You won't soon forget it, and not just because it's impossible to get off the roof of your mouth.
Tater tot hotdish
Where you can find it: Minnesota/North Dakota
Stemming from the upper Midwestern trend of naming dishes after their temperature and the vessel in which they're served, hotdishes are a staple dinner casserole, which usually include creamy condensed soup, cheese, meat, and a starchy delivery system, which, in this case, is tater tots.
Bean hole beans
Where you can find them: Maine
Deep in the often-frigid woods of Maine, three things that are necessary for survival are fire, hearty food, and deep holes in the ground (where they can contain said fire and hearty food). Bean hole beans are the sum of that equation, and their age-old tradition calls for a covered cast-iron pot full of beans, ham, molasses, brown sugar, bacon, and mustard that's cooked for about 8-10 hours.
St. Louis pizza
Where you can find it: Missouri
Cracker-thin pizza crust can be found all over America, but only in St. Louis do the locals top it with a saccharine tomato sauce and Provel, a unique Velveeta-esque processed cheese product (it's not legally considered cheese, according to stalwart fan Judah Friedlander) made of Swiss, Provolone, and cheddar.
Taylor ham/pork roll
Where you can find it: New Jersey
This distinctly Jersey pork product goes by two names in the state, but both are synonymous with a salty, usually griddled pork slice that is a fixture on breakfast sandwiches from Hoboken to Cherry Hill and everywhere in-between (that's a distance of less than 100 miles, but still).
Frog eye salad
Where you can find it: Utah
You might expect to find this dish in a lineup of gross-out bowls on Halloween right next to "real brainz [sic]," but it's actually a sweet pasta salad that doesn't contain any actual eyes of any kind, but rather a tiny, round noodle called acini de pepe, pineapple, oranges, marshmallow, eggs, and whipped topping.
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