Where Do You Stand on These 13 Regional Food Names?

By: Karen DeVincent-Reinbold

5 Minute Read

Nov 17, 2017

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regional food names

“Where are you from?”

It's a common question we often ask when getting to know new people. For a foodie or a restaurant owner, though, the reply can reveal so much more.

If you are from New Orleans, we’re dying to know what your favorite bakery for King Cake is; if you hail from Chicago, you can certainly guess we can’t wait to ask how you like your deep dish. And don’t even get us started if you are from outside of the U.S. – we might keep you for a while with all of our exciting food questions.

Knowing where you from also gives foodies a chance to play our other favorite game, which sounds something like, “Hey, what do you call a ______?” Not quite sure what I’m talking about? Let’s dig in.

From state to state – even coast to coast – we don’t all have the same name for certain foods. You can probably name a few examples off the top of your head, but wouldn’t it be fun to see what others think too? Lucky for you, we just to happen to have a poll ready to go.

So, without further ado, we present out our Ultimate Regional Food Name Poll! There’s no right or wrong answer, however, we can almost guarantee you will be pretty hungry by the time you reach our last question.

1. Can't beat a good old-fashioned...

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Did you know there were this many words for a sandwich? Here’s the regional rundown on where all these delicious lunch options come from: Submarine, just about anywhere in North America; Hoagie, Philly; Hero, NYC; Grinder, New England; Zeppelin, Eastern Pennsylvania; and Spuckie, Boston. Some other lesser-known names include Blimpie, New Jersey; and Wedge, Connecticut. There's also Dagwood, but that's sort of a trick question - this one is just named after the comic book strip character.

2. You get a sugar rush from a...

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Soft drinks are known around the U.S., and for the most part, "soda" is too. You’ll find “pop” most commonly used by our friends in the Midwest and “coke” used in the South - we’re talking all kinds of soda, not just cola!

3. Gimmie a slice of that...

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Many of those in parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, still stick to their guns and call pizzas "pie." Just make sure you clarify when ordering dessert!

4. The perfect treat for a hot summer day...


Similar to “soft drink” and “submarine,” most of the U.S. says “soft serve.” However, you’ll find folks in Vermont ordering “creamee” cones on a hot summer day.

5. This'll show your heritage. What's this?

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While many of us might think of elbow-shaped pasta as macaroni, many Italian-Americans (this author’s family included) refer to spaghetti as macaroni. Who knew!

6. Which side of the border do you side with?

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Ok, this one even stumped us. We found a helpful response here - in summary, the term “Canadian bacon” dates back to the Victorian era and resulted from the shipping and curing processes at that time.

Alright, time to settle the rest of these debates about food with other names!

7. What do you call the part of the loaf of bread that gets thrown away?


8. What do you smother your pasta in?

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Or maybe you call it "gravy" as some Italian-Americans do!

9. Drink up! What's this?

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Fun fact: some people in Rhode Island call this a cabinet!

10. An entrée typically consisting of veggies, meat, and a starch is a...

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11. Good morning! Enjoy a nice stack of...

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12. Which of these goes with your coffee?

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Fun fact: Parts of the Midwest refer to jelly donuts as "Bismarks." We aren’t historians, but from what we could find, they are called “Bismarks” because they originated in Germany, where they were first called "Bismarcken" after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. German immigrants made them popular particularly in the Midwest starting in the early 1900s.

13. And finally, this fresh catch is called a...

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Hungry yet? Go ahead, grab a snack. We'll wait.

Ok, now that you’ve fueled up, you’re probably eager to know two things: why do so many Americans call food by the "wrong" name, and how do I engineer my restaurant menu to fit these different foods at my restaurant?

Ok, maybe not so much on the last one, but please excuse this shameless plus for Toast’s super handy menu engineering guide - check it out.

Are there any results here that surprised you? Let us know in the comments below!


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