State Foods of the Upper Midwest

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

If you could choose a food to represent you, what would it be?

Some states have addressed this very query through legislation adopting food items as state symbols. Grains, beverages, and, yes, even muffins are some of the official food categories adopted by the states of the Upper Midwest.

Milk (beverage), Walleye (fish), Wild Rice (grain), Morel (mushroom), Honeycrisp Apple (fruit), Blueberry (muffin)

Minnesota Fast Fact: Third graders from Carlton, MN dreamed up the blueberry muffin to be a representative food of Minnesota. Working together for a class social studies project, their bill was signed into law in 1988.

(beverage), Muskie (fish), Corn (grain), Cranberry (fruit), Cranberry (muffin)

Wisconsin Fast Fact: Wisconsin’s state website reads about milk as their state beverage: “The perfect complement to cookies, ‘America’s Dairyland’ chose to make milk the official beverage of the state to echo its abundant dairy heritage in 1987.” I’d have liked to have been in session when the cookie discussion took place.

North Dakota:
(beverage), Northern Pike (fish), Chokecherry (fruit)

North Dakota Fast Fact: In another example of legislation being taken into the hands of our youth, seventh graders were responsible for the chokecherry becoming North Dakota’s state fruit in 2007.

South Dakota:
(beverage), Walleye (fish), Frybread (bread), Kuchen (dessert)

South Dakota Fast Fact: The state of South Dakota takes their food dessert emblem one step further than the rest and provides a recipe on their state website to make Kuchen, a German cake. Although recipes cannot be passed into law, this is considered the unofficial recipe for the state dessert.

Despite their corn and pork pride (with celebration months for both), Iowa has not officially adopted any foods as state emblems.


  1. brian

    I don’t know if Wisconsin lawmakers had food in mind when they chose the muskie as state fish, since I don’t know anyone who actually eats muskie. Along the same lines, I have no idea how the state bird (robin) tastes.

    It’s a shame that Wisco’s state beverage cannot be shared with beer and brandy, since its prolific production of the former is well known and as for the latter it drinks more brandy per capita than the rest of the country combined.

  2. Teresa in SW

    Brian’s post took the words right out of my mouth! The muskie is not eaten in Wisconsin, esp. since the minimum size the angler can keep is a huge fish which would be loaded with residual pesticides, heavy metals and other stuff that accumulates in the flesh of a large predatory fish. Not food.

    And yeah, I heard you on the beer.

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