Cuisine of the Northeastern United States

Cuisine of the Northeastern United States

The cuisine of the Northeastern United States refers to the distinctive styles of food indigenous to the states above the Potomac River. Maryland, Massachusetts, and Maine are centers of seafood cuisine. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York cuisine is heavily influenced by Italian and German immigrants to the industrial centers of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Binghamton, Elmira, Corning, Williamsport, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.

tate by State

Maryland / Washington, D.C.

Maryland boasts a plethora of marine fare, including blue crabs, crabcakes, crab soup, seafood lasagna, raw oysters, and rock fish. The state even has its own brand of potato chip, called Crab Chips.

Marylanders use Old Bay, a local spice, to season everything from crabs to applesauce to peaches to popcorn. Along with the residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Maryland's citizens are fond of scrapple.



Pennsylvania is the home of Hershey's, Tastykake, Utz, Snyder's of Hanover, Peanut Chews, and the cheesesteak. Pretzels are a common snack in Pennsylvania. They come in many varieties, from the hot, soft, chewy pretzels sold by vendors on the street or stadium to the salty, hard, crunchy variety sold by pretzels manufacturers in the grocery and quick stop stores of Pennsylvania.

New Jersey

Due to its position between New York City and Philadelphia, most towns in New Jersey are bedroom communities of one or the other. As a result, the signature foods of both cities are very popular in their corresponding suburbs - pizza, bagels, pastrami, and submarine sandwiches (sometimes called heroes) in the New York Metropolitan Area communities of Northern and Central Jersey, and hoagies (the Philadelphia equivalent of a New York hero), cheesesteaks, pretzels, water ices, and scrapple in the Philadelphia Area towns of South Jersey.

Still, there are a number of foods which are especially prominent in or unique to the Garden State. North Jersey is renowned as a hot dog stronghold, with several variants that have their roots in its cities. The ripper is perhaps the most famous type of hot dog that is native to New Jersey. It is deep-fried in oil until the casing bursts, or "rips", and might be best exemplified at Rutt's Hut, a longtime hot dog eatery in Clifton, New Jersey. Texas wieners are another type of hot dog in the state. They are either grilled or deep-fried and served with spicy brown mustard, chopped onions, and a thin meat sauce similar to chili. Wieners ordered "all the way" are dressed with all three condiments. Interestingly, the Texas wiener was independently created in two different locations - Paterson, New Jersey and Altoona, Pennsylvania six years earlier.

Another type of hot dog indigenous to North Jersey is the Italian hot dog, which originated at Jimmy Buff's in Newark, New Jersey in 1932 and is one of the foods most synonymous with North Jersey's Italian-American culture, especially in Essex County. The Italian hot dog is prepared by slicing a roll of round pizza bread in half (for a double order) or into quarters (for a single order), digging a pocket into it, and then spreading mustard along the inside of the roll. A deep-fried dog (two for a double order) is stuffed into the pocket, topped by fried or sauteed onions and peppers, and then followed by deep-fried potatoes that have been thinly sliced into discs or thickly-cut into chunks and drizzled with ketchup. Italian sausages can be substituted for the hot dogs and, as with their counterpart, are ordered as a single or double order.

Trenton, New Jersey, located near the boundary of Central and South Jersey, is known for two foods in particular: Tomato pies and Taylor ham. "Tomato pie" is basically an interchangeable term for pizza, albeit with a subtle difference: while traditional pizza pies are prepared by placing the cheese and toppings on top of the sauce and dough, tomato pies are made by laying the cheese directly on top of the dough, then adding the toppings, and finally spreading the sauce atop the mix. [ [ In Trenton, it's called "tomato pie," not pizza. Although the terms are interchangeable, there is a body of myth and lore attempting to distinguish tomato pie from pizza. The generally accepted explanation is that a tomato pie is built as follows: dough, cheese, toppings, and then sauce.] ] This creates a more tomato-intensive taste for the thin-crust pie.

Meanwhile, Taylor ham is a type of sausage-like pork product made from coarsely ground pork shoulder. It was developed by John Taylor of Trenton in the late 19th century and has become a popular breakfast and sandwich meat throughout the Garden State. In South Jersey, it is often referred to as a pork roll due to the "roll" or tube-like sack in which it is traditionally packaged, while in Northern and Central Jersey it is usually called Taylor ham. The meat is generally eaten sliced and grilled like Canadian bacon, but is also known to be fried.

And then there is salt water taffy, which is Atlantic City's gastronomic contribution to the world. It is a soft taffy originally produced and marketed in the South Jersey resort city beginning in the late 19th century, and is a staple candy and souvenir item of the Jersey Shore boardwalk. Salt water taffy is widely sold throughout beachfront areas of the United States and Canada.

In addition to its local foods, New Jersey boasts a plethora of authentic ethnic cuisines due to its large immigrant population. Some of the more prominent examples include Indian, Brazilian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Cuban, Middle Eastern, and of course Italian food, which is arguably the most popular cuisine among New Jerseyans.

Finally, New Jersey is renowned for its multitude of diners, many of which are open around the clock. In fact, New Jersey has more diners per capita than any other state in the U.S.

New York

New York City is known as one of the gastronomical capitals of the United States. With its large immigrant population virtually every cuisine could be found here. New York City is famous for its New York-style pizza, Bagels, Knish, Calzone, Pastrami, and Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Utica is known for its tomato pie, chicken riggies and black and white cakes.

Buffalo, New York is known for its Buffalo Wings, Beef on Weck, and Sponge Toffee.

Rochester, New York is known for the Garbage Plate which originated at Nick Tahou's. Various versions can now be found at different burger joints around the area. White Hot hot dogs and Jolt Cola are also Rochester staples.


Rhode Island

Rhode Island is well known for its seafood and its clam chowder, which unlike New England Clam Chowder or Manhtattan Clam Chowder, features no additional base like cream or tomato and is often referred to as "clear chowder". In addition, clamcakes, a fried dough fritter with clams is popular in many places. The state drink is coffee milk with Dell's Frozen lemonade often considered a rival, and certainly being a specialty of the state. Finally, milkshakes or frappes in the region are referred to as "cabinets". A cabinet contains ice cream, while a milkshake is milk and flavored syrup whipped together. This is especially difficult for tourists, as it differs from the common usage in New England, which is "frappe", which itself, is a nonstandard description of what most Americans call a "milkshake".

In addition, Rhode Island is home to a variety of Americanized ethnic dishes, a result of its rich immigrant history.


Boston is the center of Massachusetts, and its norms and modes have influenced the whole of the state. A major seaport from Colonial times, Boston is famous for its clam chowder, called "New England clam chowder" to distinguish it from a similar soup made in New York.

New Hampshire


Vermont is famous for its maple product production, be it syrup, candy or other derivative. In addition, Vermont cheddar is a nationally known cheese and has earned the state renown. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is closely associated with the state and is considered by many to be a primary exporter of Vermont cultural values.


Larger in land area than the rest of New England combined, the cuisine of Maine is as diverse as the terrain. The food products most associated with Maine, however, are lobster, potatoes and blueberries, which grow wild and abundantly. Maine has a rich iconographic history of incorporating the lobster into its mythology and it remains one of the most affordable places in the country to purchase lobster.

See also

* Cuisine of New England

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