Or at least, what food they can't stop talking about on Twitter, according to a team at the University of Arizona.
A cross-disciplinary team in Tuscon combed through 3.5 million food-hashtagged tweets from October 2013 to May 2014 to figure out which states love tweeting about which foods and ingredients the most. They also included food-related terms in the search, although only one state actually had a non-specific term that led their overall hashtag numbers (more on this shortly).
The most surprising part of this is that it's far more surprising than you might expect (at least at first glance). Only a few places aren't a shocker: Idaho is "spuds," Texas is "brisket," Wisconsin is "sauerkraut." There are very few repeat terms, with the biggest exception being that nearly everywhere South of the Mason-Dixon line from Maryland* to Louisiana is apparently really, really fond of hashtagging "grits." Instead, there are a lot of unexpected or (in many cases) esoteric ingredients showing up on here; "millet" in Utah, "watercress" in
Colorado Wyoming, "soysauce" in Montana.** Oh, and that one state that went with a non-specific term? Arkansas with "entree," which...honestly, I can't even begin to figure out what to make of that.
The other eye-opening piece of information concerns what types of meals get hashtagged the most often from state to state. The U of Arizona team wanted to figure out which meals are most popular in which states — breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner. This is where it takes a turn for the surprising, because the map is inordinately well-ordered: the Northeast, from Pennsylvania on up, universally went with "brunch," from Maryland to Texas and Oklahoma is all "lunch," everything North from Ohio and west to the Dakotas, Kansas, and Nebraska (a straight line, basically) is "breakfast," and everywhere West of there is "dinner." Apparently, despite the wildly differing political ideologies between the left coast and Idaho (to name one example), both places really, really love dinner over all other meals.
Now, obviously (and with the possible exception of grits and spuds), these aren't the most popular food in each state.*** You'd be hard-pressed to argue that Mainiacs (that's what they're called, dammit) are eating more durians than anything else, or that everyone in California finishes the day with a giant pile of caviar. A lot of this is a reflection of the types of people likely to go on Twitter and hashtag particular food or ingredients — in short, people looking to show off. In light of that, it's not shocking to see more exotic ingredients show up on here; the people who eat unusual stuff are more likely to want to show the world how special they are. Unless the food they love is grits, apparently.
What are some of your favorite parts of the data? Share them in the comments below.
* Dear any Northern idiots about to shout "HAH! See?! This PROVES Maryland is the South!" — Michigan's top term is also "grits," so shut up.
** Seriously? Do they really love sushi in Montana and nobody told me?
*** For some reason, the original article seems to think Oklahoma being fond of pickles is the weirdest thing in a survey where "durian," "caviar," "capers," and "guava" all make appearances, which begs the question: what kind of pickle-deprived wasteland are the writers at The Verge living in?!
Image via FomaA/Shutterstock.