Everyone knows that New Orleans is the food capital of the country; however, what most people don’t realize is that the entire state of Louisiana is responsible for creating some of their favorite foods, products, and restaurant chains. Check out this list for an overview of some of Louisiana’s most surprising food-related creations that y’all should be thanking us for.

1. King Cake


Photo by Michelle Martin

Thanks to this purple, green, and gold cinnamon cake, you don’t have to live in New Orleans to “mardi pardi.” King Cake is enjoyed throughout the country during the months of January and February to celebrate Mardi Gras. If you’re lucky, you’ll bite into the tiny plastic baby that is buried deep within the sugary goodness.

2. Tabasco Sauce


Photo by Samantha Sitt

Arguably our nation’s most popular and beloved hot sauce, Tabasco was invented on Avery Island, Louisiana in the 1860’s by Edmund McIlhenny. Five generations later, the company is still family run and is now shipping its’ famous peppery sauce to over 180 countries around the world.

3. Smoothie King


Photo courtesy of @smoothieking on Instagram

In 1973, Steve Kuhnau created “The Smoothie Bar” in New Orleans, Louisiana to fight against poor nutrition, health conditions, and food allergies in his community. The place became so popular that in the 1980s “The Smoothie Bar” evolved into the chain we all know and love today, Smoothie King.

Since then, Smoothie King has continued to whip up refreshing and healthy smoothies that are enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

4. Beignets


Photo by Sarah Yanofsky

In the 17th Century, French settlers brought beignets with them to the United States, and now this fried sugary treat is the official state doughnut of Louisiana. Even though you can’t find better beignets than the ones served at Cafe Du Monde or Cafe Beignet in New Orleans, these powdered sugar covered fritters are served up in restaurants around the nation.

5. Copeland’s


Photo courtesy of @copelands on Instagram

In 1983, Copeland’s was founded by NOLA native Al Copeland. This Southern chain is not one to miss out on – they’re known for their seafood platters, loaded mac & cheese, and Cajun Gumbo Ya Ya.

6. Cotton Candy


Photo courtesy of Courtney Clegg

Although, cotton candy, or “fairy floss” as it was referred to then, was technically invented in Nashville in 1897, Dr. Joseph Lascaux, a dentist from New Orleans, improved upon the recipe and trademarked the name “Cotton Candy” in 1921.

Thanks to this Louisiana dentist, kids (and college kids) get to enjoy this tooth-rotting and fluffy goodness. Check out this website for more strange cotton candy facts.

7. Tonys Chachere’s


Photo courtesy of walmart.com

Founded over 100 years ago by the “Ole Master” of Cajun cuisine, this seasoning has jazzed up kitchens across the country. The Creole Seasoning, used in Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etoufees, and anything in between, was first cooked up in the tiny town of Opelousas, Louisiana.

8. Sno-balls


Photo courtesy of @snobliz on Instagram

Non-natives may confuse these icy treats for snow cones, but sno-balls are distinct for their fine and fluffy shaved ice complemented by flavored cane sugar syrup. Ever scoff at the bucket of syrup at the bottom of your snow cone? Sno-balls absorb the syrup so flavor is evenly distributed.

9. Zatarain’s


Photo courtesy of flickr.com

This food and spice company, most known for Jambalaya mix, was founded right here in New Orleans in 1889 and is now used in kitchens across the nation. As a New Orleans transplant, I always find it hard to get Creole seasoning just right, but these mixes sure have it down. Bonus points if you find the original Zatarain’s billboard in downtown New Orleans.

10. Bananas Foster


Photo courtesy of @brennansnola on Instagram

Created at a classic New Orleans restaurant, Brennan’s, this flaming dessert is something to go B-A-N-A-N-A-S over. Bananas foster is made from bananas and vanilla ice cream, and is then topped with a buttery cinnamon sugar rum sauce. Upscale restaurants around the US have this decadent creation on their dessert menus for your tastebuds’ enjoyment.

11. Abita Brewing Company


Photo courtesy of @abitabeer on Instagram

Founded in its namesake town of Abita Springs, Louisiana in 1986, this brewing company was the first craft brewery in the entire Southeast. Now sold in 46 states, Abita Brewing Co. churns out wonderfully flavored brews, including a harvest series made with Louisiana-grown ingredients. Strawberry is a favorite this time of year.

12. Gumbo


Photo by Michelle Martin

This southern stew dates back to the 18th century, and is still prepared the traditional way with stock, meat, vegetables, and the all important thickener – usually a roux. Originating in southern Louisiana, you can find both Cajun and Creole varieties.

While you can find gumbo at just about any restaurant serving southern food, we recommend giving Mother’s Restaurant a visit if you ever find yourself in New Orleans.

13. Popeyes


Photo by Hannah Rote

Serving up spicy New Orleans-style chicken for over 40 years, this fast food joint is a Louisiana staple that has expanded to reach customers all around the US. Whether you’re craving chicken or seafood, Popeyes has you covered.