Walleye swims its way to top of Minnesota's most distinctive food list


Walleye sets Minnesota apart when it comes to dining out.

Fast Company's Co.Design and Food Genius, a food industry analytics company, looked at 88,000 menus and 59 million menu items to build a map of the food that most distinguishes one state from the rest. (Note: This isn't the most popular food by state.)

For Minnesota, walleye is the most distinguished menu item – it appeared on 29 percent of the menus analyzed in Minnesota, while the fish only appeared on 1 percent of menus nationally, giving it a 28 percent difference from the rest of the country.

The map below shows each state's top ingredient or dish – the darker the color, the bigger difference between the term's frequency on menus in the state versus menus in the rest of the U.S.

The interactive map (toggle through it here) also tracks sensory terms, like blended or creamy, that are common on menus. Here are the top five Minnesota menu mentions:

  • Walleye: 29 percent of Minnesota menus, 1 percent in the U.S., with a difference of 28 percent.
  • Cheddar cheese: 60 percent of Minnesota menus, 36 percent in the U.S., with a difference of 24 percent.
  • Seasoned: 53 percent of Minnesota menus, 32 percent in the U.S., with a difference of 21 percent.
  • Dip: 47 percent of Minnesota menus, 26 percent in the U.S., with a difference of 21 percent.
  • Bun: 37 percent of Minnesota menus, 17 percent in the U.S., with a difference of 20 percent.

The data also notes the five most distinctive regional food trends – cheesesteaks, green chilis, green bell peppers, ranch dressing and pecans – which details the country's eating habits, Co.Design notes.

Of the trends, green bell peppers are on menus in Minnesota and the Midwest more than other areas. Ranch dressing registers as quite popular throughout the nation – but it's the most popular throughout much of the Great Plains, plus West Virginia. Cheesesteaks are popular on the East Coast, green chilis dominate New Mexico's menus, and pecans are popular in the South, as well as South Dakota.

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