From wings to spam sushi: What food is each state ordering most during the pandemic?

click2houston.com

Takeout and delivery have become the only viable alternatives to dining out since the coronavirus shuttered restaurants across the U.S. — prompting Yelp to compile data on the most popular foods called in for every state.

Some of the findings were surprising.

“When we first looked at the results, pizza delivery reigned supreme, which is no surprise since it delivers well and it’s perfect for a family night in,” Yelp said. “However, we dug into the data to find the most uniquely popular delivery order in every state, and that’s when things got interesting.”

To compile the list, a data scientist at Yelp mined the names of dishes people have been ordering since March 16 — when states started rolling out stay-at-home orders — using a technique known as term frequency-inverse document frequency.

According to Yelp, that’s just a fancy way of saying it “quantifies how frequently a dish is ordered in a state relative to its popularity in other states.”

By then simplifying dish names, the data scientist was able to pull out the top three dishes in each state, which Yelp identified as “the most regionally popular food-delivery items.” There was, however, a little subjectivity involved in singling out just one: Yelp left it up to its data scientist to choose.

Here’s a look at the most popular food delivery item in each state, organized by region according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

WEST

Alaska: Gumbo

Arizona: Tacos

California: Bubble Tea

Colorado: Crab Rangoon

Hawaii: Bubble Tea

Idaho: Cheese Pizza

Montana: Egg Rolls

New Mexico: Green Chile Cheeseburgers

Nevada: Spam Musubi*

Oregon: Loaded Burgers

Utah: Hot Wings

Washington: Pad Thai

Wyoming: Naan

*Spam Musubi is essentially sushi made out of Spam. According to Spam.com, it’s a “Hawaiian take on surf and turf” made from two slices of (thankfully) cooked Spam, white rice, nori and your sauce of choice. Despite Spam being manufactured in Minnesota, Only In Your State reported this dish is a classic in Hawaii that made its way to Las Vegas — home to a “bounty of Hawaiian dishes” that might otherwise be “hard to find on the mainland,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

MIDWEST

Iowa: Burgers

Illinois: Thin Crust Pizza*

Indiana: Poke Bowls

Kansas: Gyros

Michigan: Bubble Tea

Minnesota: Donuts

Missouri: Belgian Fries**

Nebraska: Sushi

North Dakota: Gyros

Ohio: Deep Dish Pizza

South Dakota: Dumplings

Wisconsin: Pad Thai

*The irony is not lost. Chicago is no doubt disappointed.

**Not to be confused with the average french fry, Belgian Fries are fried twice, according to Epicurious.com.

NORTHEAST

Connecticut: Cheese Pizza

Massachusetts: General Tso’s Chicken

Maine: Pad Thai

New Hampshire: Crab Rangoon

New Jersey: Cheese Pizza

New York: Cheese Pizza

Pennsylvania: Italian Hoagies

Rhode Island: General Tso’s Chicken

Vermont: Burritos

SOUTH

Alabama: Nachos

Arkansas: Spring Rolls

Delaware: Pho

Florida: Garlic Rolls

Georgia: Wings

Kentucky: Gyros

Louisiana: Sushi

Maryland: Gyros

Mississippi: Catfish

North Carolina: Tacos

Oklahoma: Croissants

South Carolina: Sushi

Tennessee: Chicken Tenders

Texas: Crawfish

Virginia: Tacos

West Virginia: Bao Buns*

*An editor at McClatchy News who is from West Virginia has never heard of Bao Buns. According the BBC, they are Chinese bread rolls typically filled with BBQ pork and pickled vegetables — though fillings can vary. At first glance, nothing on the internet could explain why they became so popular in West Virginia during the pandemic.

Article by BY HAYLEY FOWLER