1 of 4
On Monday, we can celebrate America the bountiful — state to shining state brimming with everything from Washington apples to Florida orange juice, Alaskan salmon to Vermont maple syrup, not to mention those amber waves of grain. Around the country, legislatures have made some of these food products "official" state emblems, often the result of lobbying groups or student letter-writing campaigns. You can find out about these emblems on individual state Web sites, as well as on sites that have collected information on all the states, such as State History Guide Resources (www.shgresources.com), and Netstate.com, found at www.netstate.com/states, and the Food Timeline (www.foodtimeline.org).

Some emblems aren't that unique — 11 states recognize the white-tailed deer as their official animal or mammal. Utah is one of 16 states that has the honeybee as its official insect, although nobody else can say their territory was first called "Deseret," the Book of Mormon word for "honeybee."

And milk is the official beverage of 17 states. So who says America isn't the land of milk and honey?

Only Rhode Island has coffee milk as an official state drink — described as similar to chocolate milk, but with coffee syrup instead of chocolate. According to Autocrat Coffee and Syrup of Rhode Island, the drink became popular in the 1930s, when diner and drugstore operators sweetened leftover coffee grounds with milk and sugar.

Some foods were so designated because the state is a major producer — Georgia's official crop is the peanut, its fruit is the peach, and its vegetable is the Vidalia onion. It's no surprise that Idaho's official vegetable is the potato.

Other symbols were honored for their historical significance, such as North Carolina's Scuppernong grape, the first grape actively cultivated in the United States, according to State History Guide Resources. In 2002, Senate Bill 136 named the sugar beet Utah's official historic vegetable, as a nod to a once-thriving industry. The Utah Sugar Co.'s fac-

tory in Lehi, built in 1891, was the country's first beet sugar factory built with American machinery, according to the Utah History Encyclopedia. By the 1980s, there were no beet sugar factories left in Utah. The same senate bill also named the Spanish sweet onion Utah's official vegetable.

A few official foods may not be found on today's dinner tables, but they played a role in the survival of native Americans and early pioneer settlers — the sego lily in Utah, Indian rice grass in both Utah and Nevada, Alaska's bowhead whale, the golden poppy in California and bitterroot in Montana. Lewis and Clark wrote about the beautiful purplish-pink flower of the bitterroot, which was too bitter to eat unless it was cooked, and it was usually mixed with berries or meat.

Kansas, Wyoming and Oklahoma all recognize bison, which roamed their lands in huge herds during the 1800s but were nearly wiped out. Likewise, Maryland's diamondback terrapin (turtle) was once so abundant that it was a staple diet of slaves and indentured servants in the early 1800s. Then in the late 1800s, terrapin soup, laced with cream and sherry, became a gourmet delicacy among the wealthy. The demand nearly decimated the local terrapin population, prompting laws to protect it, according to the April 2005 issue of Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

Utahns may remember comedian Bill Cosby's visit in 2001, to lobby legislators to make Jell-O Utah's official snack. In 1997, Jell-O officials confirmed that Utah had the highest per-capita consumption of fruit-flavored gelatin in the country. When Utah's Jell-O sales slipped and Iowa took over that distinction in 1999, it sparked a local campaign (with a lot of support from the Jell-O folks) to "Take Back the Title," recounted in past Deseret Morning News articles. After Utah was once again on top of the heap, the legislature humored Jell-O spokesman Cosby and passed a resolution recognizing the jiggly dessert.

A couple of states recognize food festivals, such as Alabama's Christmas on the River Barbecue Championship. Last month Texas named the Dutch oven its official state cooking implement. The cast-iron pot, used over many a campfire by pioneers and cowboys, was named Utah's state cooking pot in 1997. That was apparently a foodie year at the state capitol, as the cherry became the state fruit and the Bonneville cutthroat trout became the state fish.

Oklahoma adopted an official state meal in 1988: Barbecued pork, chicken-fried steak, sausage with biscuits and gravy, fried okra and squash, grits, corn, black-eyed peas, corn bread, strawberries and pecan pie. Even the heartiest of Oklahoma appetites would have a hard time polishing off all those foods in one sitting.

Some states have lots of official foods, while others have none. Perhaps their legislatures choose to debate other issues besides Boston Cream Pie vs. Toll House cookies, or strawberries vs. blueberries. But it's surprising that Hawaii, with its wealth of tropical fruits, hasn't designated an official food. Likewise, agriculture giant California — where Castroville calls itself the "artichoke heart of America" and the Gilroy Garlic Festival attracts thousands — has only the valley quail, the golden trout and the golden poppy as state edibles.

State symbols

Here are state food-related symbols:


Barbecue Championship: Demopolis Christmas on the River Barbecue Championship

Freshwater fish: Largemouth bass

Game bird: Wild turkey

Nut: Pecan

Saltwater fish: Tarpon

Fruit: Blackberry

Spirit: Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey


Bird: Willow ptarmigan

Fish: Chinook salmon

Land mammal: Moose

Marine mammal: Bowhead whale


Fish: Apache trout

Flower: Saguaro cactus blossom


Beverage: Milk

Fruit and vegetable: South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato

Insect: Honeybee

Mammal: White-tailed deer

Trout Capital of the USA: Cotter, Ark.


Bird: Valley quail

Fish: Golden trout

Flower: Golden poppy


Animal: Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Fish: Greenback cutthroat trout


Shellfish: Eastern oyster


Beverage: Milk

Fish: Weakfish or sea trout


Beverage: Orange juice

Freshwater fish: Largemouth bass

Saltwater fish: Atlantic sailfish

Reptile: Alligator


Championship: Beef Barbecue Championship Cook-Off in Hawkinsville

Championship: Pork Barbecue Championship Cook-Off: "Slosheye Trail Big Pig Jig" in Dooley County

Crop: Peanut

Fish: Largemouth bass

Folk life play: "Swamp Gravy"

Fruit: Peach

Game bird: Bobwhite quail

Insect: Honeybee

Vegetable: Vidalia sweet onion

Poultry capital of the world




Fish: Cutthroat trout

Fruit: Huckleberry

Vegetable: Potato


Animal: White-tailed deer

Fish: Bluegill




Song: Iowa Corn Song by George Hamilton and Ray Lockard


Animal: Bison

Flower: Sunflower

Insect: Honeybee


Wild game animal: Gray squirrel

Festival: Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown

Fish: Spotted bass


Crustacean: Crawfish

Doughnut: Beignet

Drink: Milk

Fresh-water fish: White perch

Fruit: Strawberry

Insect: Honeybee

Reptile: Alligator


Berry: Wild blueberry

Fish: Landlocked salmon

Herb: Wintergreen

Insect: Honeybee

Animal: Moose


Crustacean: Blue crab

Fish: Rockfish

Reptile: Diamondback terrapin

Drink: Milk


Muffin: Corn muffin

Dessert: Boston Cream Pie

Beans: Baked navy beans

Berry: Cranberry

Beverage: Cranberry juice

Game bird: Wild turkey

Cookie: Chocolate chip (Toll House) cookie


Drink: Milk

Fish: Wall-eyed pike

Grain: Wild rice

Muffin: Blueberry

Mushroom: Morel


Beverage: Milk

Fish: Largemouth bass

Insect: Honeybee

Land mammal: White-tailed deer

Shell: Oyster shell

Waterfowl: Wood duck


Aquatic animal: Paddlefish

Fish: Channel catfish

Insect: Honeybee

Nut: Black walnut


Fish: Blackspotted cutthroat trout

Flower: Bitterroot


Beverage: Milk

Fish: Channel catfish

Insect: Honeybee


Fish: Lantana cutthroat trout

Grass: Indian rice grass

Tree: Pinon (pine nut)


Animal: White-tailed deer

Fresh-water fish: Brook trout

Salt-water game fish: Striped bass


Fish: Brook trout

Insect: Honeybee


Cookie: Bizcochito

Fish: Cutthroat trout

Tree: Pinon (pine nut)

Vegetables: Chili pepper, pinto bean


Beverage: Milk

Fish: Brook trout

Fruit: Apple

Muffin: Apple muffin

Shell: Bay scallop

Tree: Sugar maple


Berry, blue: Blueberry

Berry, red: Strawberry

Beverage: Milk

Fruit: Scuppernong grape

Insect: Honeybee

Saltwater fish: Channel bass

Northeastern Watermelon Festival: Watermelon Festival in Murfreesboro

Southeastern Watermelon Festival: Watermelon Festival in Columbus County

Vegetable: Sweet potato

Animal: Gray squirrel


Beverage: Milk

Fish: Northern pike


Animal: White-tailed deer

Beverage: Tomato juice


Animal: Bison

Beverage: Milk

Fish: White bass

Game animal: White-tailed deer

Game bird: Wild turkey

Insect: Honeybee

Meal: Fried okra, squash, corn bread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken-friend steak, pecan pie and black-eyed peas.


Beverage: Milk

Fish: Chinook salmon

Flower: Oregon grape

Mushroom: Pacific golden chanterelle

Nut: Hazelnut


Animal: White-tailed deer

Beverage: Milk

Cookie: Chocolate chip cookie

Fish: Brook trout

Game bird: Ruffed grouse


Bird: Rhode Island red hen

Fish: Striped bass

Fruit: Greeningapple

Shell: Quahaug

Drink: Coffee milk


Animal: White-tailed deer

Beverage: Milk

Fish: Striped bass

Fruit: Peach

Game Bird: Wild turkey

Hospitality beverage: Tea


Bird: Ring-necked pheasant

Dessert: Kuchen

Drink: Milk

Fish: Walleyed pike

Insect: Honeybee


Agricultural insect: Honeybee

Commercial fish: Channel catfish

Game bird: Bobwhite quail

Sport fish: Largemouth bass


Dish: Chili

Health nut: Pecan

Fish: Guadelupe bass

Fruit: Texas Red grapefruit

Large mammal: Longhorn steer

Native pepper: Chiltepin

Pepper: Jalapeno

Plant: Prickly-pear cactus

Tree: Pecan

Vegetable: Sweet onion

Bread: Pan De Campo (Cowboy Bread)

Cooking implement: Cast-iron Dutch oven

Vehicle: Chuckwagon


Animal: Rocky Mountain elk

Cooking pot: Dutch oven

Emblem: Beehive

Fish: Bonneville cutthroat trout

Flower: Sego lily

Fruit: Cherry

Grass: Indian rice grass

Insect: Honeybee

Contemporary vegetable: Spanish sweet onion

Historic vegetable: Sugar beet

Snack: Jell-O


Beverage: Milk

Cold-water fish: Brook trout

Warm-water fish: Walleyed pike

Flavor: Maple

Fruit: Apple

Insect: Honeybee

Pie: Apple pie

Tree: Sugar maple


Beverage: Milk

Shell: Oyster shell

Fish: Brook trout


Fish: Steelhead trout

Fruit: Apple


Fish: Brook trout

Fruit: Golden Delicious apple

Tree: Sugar maple


Beverage: Milk

Domestic animal: Dairy cow

Fish: Muskellunge

Grain: Corn

Insect: Honeybee

Tree: Sugar maple

Wildlife animal: White-tailed deer


Fish: Cutthroat trout

Mammal: Bison

Sources: Netstate.com at www.netstate.com/states; State History Guide Resources, at shgresources.com/al/symbol, and The Food Timeline at foodtimeline.org, and Deseret Morning News archives.

E-mail: vphillips@desnews.com