Alaska’s relatively brief statehood and late arrival to industrialization means a bit of a different landscape when it comes to indigenous foods (no, for the last time, Baked Alaska did not come from Alaska -- though read up on Eskimo ice cream if you want to learn about an... acquired taste). But Alaska’s seemingly limitless natural bounty makes a simpler edible delight feel more appropriate, anyway, and there’s a reason Alaskan king crabs are coveted the world over: crab meat is delicious if pesky to process, and king crabs are ginormous and therefore best positioned to provide real genuine hunks of impossibly delicious crab meat.
Were king crabs innovated by God? By evolution? Undoubtedly that can be settled with level-headedness and decorum in the comments section, but regardless, thank Alaska the next time you throw down for that all-you-can-eat crab legs special at your local steakhouse, or the next time you marathon Deadliest Catch because you’ve already seen that episode of House Hunters.
“BUT WE INVENTED THE CHIMICHANGA!” at least one person from Arizona is currently yelling, seeing our selection. And yes, weird people who call themselves burrito historians trace gross deep-fried burritos (aka chimichangas) back to the Tucson area in the 1920s, but they also found that “chivichangas” have been around in Mexico for much longer than that, so something about this doesn’t quite add up.
But you know what does add up? The fact that THE ENTIRE ARTISANAL PIZZA REVOLUTION started right in Arizona in 1994, thanks to a high school dropout from the Bronx named Chris Bianco. If not for his absolute desire to craft the perfect pizza, a desire that sent him to Italy for two years in the '90s, and the weird connection he felt upon visiting Arizona from NY, he could’ve just been another random pizzaiolo in NY, a drop in a bucket, and this thing would’ve never come true, and we’d all still be eating garbage '90s pizza. But no, Bianco put AZ on the map as a big fucking star in the pizza galaxy, and chefs saw that star, and followed it, and now you can basically be anywhere in the country, and a Verace Pizza Napoletana-qualified pizzeria is within an hour’s drive. Chris did that. Arizona did that. The chimichanga didn’t do shit.
Before Pinkberry and Tasti D-Lite and 1,000 other fro-yo slingers were jockeying to carve out space as the dairy methadone for America’s heroin-like ice cream addiction, there was Little Rock-founded TCBY (formerly This Can’t Be Yogurt, then shortened thanks to a lawsuit with another one of the game’s early players). The zeitgeist may have moved onto other buzzier new yogurt joints, but TCBY’s 35-year legacy of helping Americans trick themselves into thinking a bowl full of candy-topped soft serve is a “healthy” choice lives on to this day, along with hundreds of remaining TCBY locations.
If you’ve never seen a map of the United States, allow me to TLDR it for you: California is gigantic. And as a gigantic place with a temperate and varied climate, it grows a lot of things. And as a gigantic place with a temperate and varied climate growing a lot of things, plus four very major cities with their own significant food contributions, you can understand how this might be a troubling place to pick one item. Until you remember the avocado.
In the 1920s in Southern California, a mailman named Rudolph Hass bought avocado seedlings and planted them, and the avocado that was produced from said tree was unlike the typical Fuerte avocados popular at the time. It was bigger with a richer flavor, and seemed to produce year-round. Hass named it after himself and patented the tree. He began selling grafted seedlings from his tree, and the Hass avocado took off. And now it is everywhere. If you want artisanal toast that will look good using your Lo-Fi filter, you throw avocado on it. If you want a more delicious BLT with a cooler name, avocado goes right in there. If you want me to judge your burger order, add the avocado to it for a buck. Guacamole is basically an auto-order at any Mexican restaurant in the country. The avocado is nourishing lifeblood mainlined into the bloodstream of American foodstuffs. It is the most versatile, healthiest condiment ever. And it’s all thanks to a horticulturally obsessed mailman from California. American Dream, indeed.