W W hen you visit somewhere new, the first thing a local will do is tell you what you absolutely have to eat before you leave. Not just because it’s delicious, but because it will help you understand. That’s because truly iconic regional snacks aren’t just novelty items. They have the power to rally communities together, to inspire dreams, to be stand-ins, in the memory, for the entire experience of home. When someone wants you to taste one, it’s their way of saying: “welcome.”
So to pay proper homage, we dove into the stories behind 12 of the country’s favorites, spanning coast to coast. Below you’ll find origin stories, some decades old, some centuries, as well as an idea of just how dedicated fans of these foods can be. Like, “dress their kids in canned meat product costumes,” dedicated.
"Yo, what's dis New York fat twisty thing doin' in a Philly park on a pedestal?"
“You know he's a local boy if he's eating Spam Musubi."