New England is home to some of the most historical landmarks in the United States. It’s also the origin of some of the nation’s favorite foods. Maybe it’s most well known for having some of the greatest sports fandoms in the country, but the food that has come out of this place wins championships every year.
Tommy gets a lot of unnecessary hate, but haters gotta give thanks to this great region of the nation for opening our eyes and filling our stomachs.
1. Clam Chowder
It’s called New England clam chowder, so it seems like a pretty appropriate place to start. There are other “renditions” of chowdah, but there’s a reason that I just said “Clam Chowder.” Delaware, North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey have all tried their hardest to come up with something to compete against New England, and they’ve all failed miserably. The worst of all the attempts is the Manhattan clam chowder. They decided to make it tomato based, and once again proved that New England > New York. One Maine state representative, Cleveland Sleeper, really wasn’t feelin’ New York’s chowder bullsh*t, so he proposed a bill in 1939 with the attempt to ban tomatoes from chowder. The bill was never filed, but we appreciate your dedication to justice, Mr. Sleeper.
2. Parker House Rolls
We all know that amazing feeling of sitting down at a restaurant and immediately being greeted by a warm basket of fresh bread. Without the accidental invention of Parker House Rolls at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, the rolls we would receive today would be pretty lame. Legend has it that in the 1880s, an angry pastry cook threw unfinished rolls into the oven, which resulted in their dented appearance. This left a beautiful, airy, cloud like texture in the center of the rolls.
3. Fried Clams
Fried clams are mentioned on menus and in cookbooks as early as the 1840s, but they weren’t how we eat them today, and they pretty much flew under the radar until the early 1900s. Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman from Essex, Mass. claims to have created the first batch of the deep-fried, breaded version on July 3, 1916, in his small roadside restaurant, now Woodman’s of Essex.
A typical day for “Chubby” and his wife at their small concession store on Main Street in Essex was selling fried potato chips and fresh clams. One day, a friend of “Chubby’s” jokingly suggested he put the fresh clams in the fryer, and fried clams as we know them today were born.
4. New Haven Style Pizza
Frank Pepe was a poor, illiterate, Italian immigrant when he arrived in the United States in 1909. With the help of his wife who was literate and had been learning English, the two of them opened a pizza shop in 1925 in New Haven, CT. Named after their new-found home in the US, Frank Pepe originated the New Haven-style thin crust pizza which he baked in bread ovens fired by coke, a byproduct of coal used extensively until the late 1960’s when it became unavailable and replaced by coal.
The Original Frank Pepe Pizza Napoletana now has nine locations and still busts out killer combos of the most addicting pizza you’ve ever had.
Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA is home to every kind of food you could imagine. John Cain set up shop there in 1914, starting his business as a cheese distribution company. What began as a cheese stand turned into Cain thinking about another product, mayonnaise. While mayo had already been on the shelves, Cain wanted to reinvent it in a way that wouldn’t make it separate. In 1924, Cains All Natural Mayonnaise hit supermarkets around the country.
6. Cranberry Farms
Ocean Spray began their desire to put out farm fresh products in Lakeville-Middlebourough, Mass. in 1930. Three cranberry growers thought of new and cutting-edge ways to manipulate the cranberry by growing them in bogs.
7. Marshmallow Fluff
We can thank Somerville, Mass. for being the homeland of the creation of one of the greatest things since sliced bread (and it’s even better between two slices of bread). The almighty Archibald Query invented “marshmallow creme” in 1917, and sold the fluff door-to-door. Unfortunately after WWI, there was a shortage of necessary supplies, making it hard for his small start-up became hard to maintain.
Thankfully in 1920, two entrepreneurs invested in Query and his product. Query ended up selling his product to the investors, and Durkee-Mower, Inc. have owned it for 100+ years. It was rumored that Query and his wife regretted selling the business, but we would all probably regret it.
8. Lobster Rolls
If you make a trip to New England and go home without having a lobster roll, you have missed an opportunity. New England lobster is the best there is. You can go to any restaurant on the water and eat lobster as fresh as it comes. We can thank Perry’s in Millford, CT for being the masterminds behind a decadent lobster salad on a hot dog bun.
9. Ben and Jerry’s
It all started in 1978 in a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT. Now you can’t go into a grocery store and not see a pint sitting in the freezer aisle. These guys are literally everywhere, and rightly so. You can even make bomb-ass cookies out of them.
10. Boston Cream Pie
This Massachusetts state dessert was invented at the Parker House Hotel in 1856. It’s layers of French butter sponge cake with a custard or cream filling and brushed with a rum syrup, coated on the side with a custard or cream with toasted sliced almonds, and top coated on the top with chocolate fondant. There are an infinite amount of variations of this dessert, including Union Square Donut’s Boston Cream Pie Donut.
11. Cape Cod Potato Chips
On July 4, 1980, two men opened up a storefront in Hyannis, Mass. with the goal of sharing their crunchy and delicious kettle cooked potato chips. That small business has been transformed into a nationwide success.
12. NECCO Wafers
No Valentine’s Day could be complete without those candy message hearts. In fact, if it weren’t for Oliver Chase, creator of the first American candy machine, we wouldn’t have the candy we know today. Chase and his brother began Chase and Co., which played a vital role in the startup, New England Confectionary Company (aka NECCO).
13. Dunkin’ Donuts
It’s no surprise to find Dunks on the list. It’s the choice of a loyal New Englander, and it’s the choice of the New England Patriots. Whenever the Patriots win a game, Dunkin Donuts Perks Members can get a free coffee in all stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Now that’s what I call fandom.
14. Sam Adams Beer
A member of the Boston Beer Company, Sam Adams beer is a staple in pubs, restaurants and bars across the country. It all started in 1984 when Jim Koch, a sixth-generation brewer, found a beer recipe from his great-great-grandfather and started brewing Samuel Adams beer at his new company, the Boston Beer Company. Boston Beer Company is now the second largest draft brewery in the US.
15. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ruth Wakefield of Whitman, Mass. gets the credit for this American household favorite. One day at her Toll House Inn restaurant, Wakefield was making chocolate cookies and ran out of the chocolate fit for baking them. She decided to instead use Nestlé chocolate chunks with the intention of them melting into the batter. Thankfully for humanity, they did not melt, and we now have chocolate chip cookies in our lives.
16. Fig Newtons
This sweet snack doesn’t get as much love as it should, especially because of it’s New England roots. These beauties came to be in Newton, Mass. when fig connoisseur, Charles Roser, concocted a machine that infused fig paste into dough. The Kennedy Biscuit Company couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so they bought Roser’s invention and set up shop in Massachusetts.
17. Harpoon Brewery
Three beer lovers, Dan Kenary, Rich Doyle and George Ligeti, opened up a brewery in a warehouse on Boston’s iconic waterfront in the summer of 1987. Harpoon brewery now operates with a 120-barrel brewhouse to keep up with the demand of their wide variety of products ranging from cider to white IPA to stout to lager. In addition to the OG establishment in Boston, they also have a brewery in Windsor, VT.
18. Junior Mints
This classic chocolate and mint combo melted into our lives in 1949 in Cambridge, Mass.. The James O. Welch Company had the genius idea to begin manufacturing these little blobs of goodness, and movie theaters have never been the same.
19. The Hamburger
So this invention isn’t that important. I mean, we can all live without hamburgers right? Wrong. The hamburger may be the most iconic American food. Wherever you are in the US, there is going to be a hamburger within a 5 mile radius (it’s just science).
We bow down to Louis Lunch in New Haven, CT for making our lives infinitely better when owner Louis Lassen grilled a mixture of ground meat into a shape that would fit between two slices of toast for a customer who was in a hurry and needed to eat on the go.
And Cambridge, Mass. is home to the most amazing and decadent burgers in the country. Check out Mr. Bartley’s Burgers next time you’re in town.
The Bradley Smith Candy Company first began producing Lolly Pops in 1908 at their flagship store in New Haven, CT. George Smith of Bradley Smith Candy Company patented the name “lolly pop” in 1931, giving the candy on a stick the name we know today. With help from Spoon’s Northwestern chapter, you can channel George Smith and make your own lollipops.
21. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is literally older than the country that produces it. Recordings of maple syrup date back to 1557 when Native Americans still had hold on the land. It became increasingly popular in the late 1700’s and early 180’0s when colonists realized it had an incredibly long shelf life, and was easy to carry. Even Thomas Jefferson had a maple plantation.
22. Johnny Cakes
Johnny cakes begin their extensive roots in Rhode Island. They’re best described as cornmeal patties. It’s really pancakes, but it doesn’t have the structure of cornbread. Rhode Island even has a Johnny Cake Festival every year. These pan-fried piles of goodness have pretty much stayed in New England, but a slight variety is made in Southern states in the US called “hoecakes.”
23. Cabot Creamery
Farmers in the beginning of the 20th century had an excess amount of milk being produced. A group of farmers in Cabot, VT decided to capitalize on the overload and turned it into butter to sell to the New England area. That small group of farmers in Vermont has now transformed into a nationwide business with an assortment of products including butter, yogurt, cream cheese, dips, cottage cheese, whipped cream and whey protein.
24. Friendly’s Ice Cream
Prestley and Curtis Blake established an ice cream shop in Springfield, Mass. in 1935. These brothers had a passion for handmade and quality products, and wanted to share their friendly business plan with the New England community. There are currently 350 restaurants in 15 U.S. states serving classic diner foods and of course, ice cream.
25. Whoopie Pie
The origins of the whoopie pie is surrounded by some controversy because Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all take claim on the creation of this magical dessert. The whoopie pie is the state pie of Maine, so we’re going to give it to them. Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine began the whoopie pie movement in 1925.
With the help of Spoon’s Dartmouth chapter, you can even make your own Chocolate Espresso Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies. #drooling