As a New Jersey native, the words "best food in the Midwest" did not really get me excited. I go to college in Ohio and I am always sad to leave New Jersey's thin crust plain pies (yes, that's referring to cheese pizza), non-land-locked sushi, and our incomparable bagels. These staples are just not the same in the Midwest and I had no idea what the Midwesterners considered a Midwest classic. So, I set out to find the top 10 best Midwestern foods that everyone needs to try. And honestly, I'm pleasantly surprised.

1. Chicago Style Hot Dog

Hot dogs are a summer classic for everyone. Backyard pool parties, friends and family, spiked ice cold lemonades, and a grill full of hotdogs and hamburgers are all summer essentials.

A bit different than the sauerkraut NYC classic, Chicago residents brag about their steamed beef dogs, fully loaded with sweet pickled relish, chopped white onions, pickled sport peppers, a dash of celery salt, and mustard, all served on a poppy seed bun. The mix of ingredients might sound a little weird, but Chi Town locals cannot stop talking about it. 

2. Bratwurst 

While Chicago has their hot dog, Wisconsin is know for barbecues filled with bratwurst, instead of that poppyseed bunned dirty water dog. Wisconsin boasts frying their bratwurst and serving it on a round Sheboygan hard roll topped with onion and brown mustard. Be sure to never grill the brat (always fry) or use yellow mustard (brown is better), because these are truly sins in the cheese state. To really take it a step further, soak the brat in beer and then fry it to make the infamous beer brat

3. Juneberry Pie

You might be wondering, "What's a juneberry?" Often referred to as the Blueberry of North Dakota, this berry is virtually unknown to the rest of the country. When ripened in July, it has the taste of a cherry with a hint of nut flavor. Juneberries are more firm than other berries, making for a delicious firm, non-watery pie. 

4. Pulled-Pork BBQ

Ok, I know what you're thinking. Pulled pork is not a Midwest food staple. Well, apparently, it is. The Midwest pulled pork scene is much sweeter and different than the dry rub, slow cook, mustard scene of the South.

Kansas City BBQ is smoked in a dry rub and then covered in a molasses based sauce with some fiery kick, chef's choice. The sides of choice in Kansas City are typically the classic 'slaw, french fries, and baked beans. I'm for sure team Kansas now, but for those Southerners, did I invite you to my BBQ? Then why are you all up in my grill?

5. Pan-fried Walleye

Whether you have any idea what walleye is or not (like myself), apparently, it's one of the nation's most "sought after fish." It's tender, flaky, and doesn't have an overpowering fishy taste. So basically it's a fresh take on fish 'n chips. The walleye is battered, pan-fried, and served up with pitchers of beer and baskets of fries. Yum. 

6. Anything On a Stick

This is an interesting one. I witnessed this famous Midwest classic when I went to the West Virginia state fair to see Big Time Rush (#tbt), and literally everything was served on a stick. West Virginia is not technically in the Midwest, so I can only imagine how much more there is at a true Midwestern state fair. Corn on the cob, hot dogs, chips, pork, turkey legs, cheese, pizza, alligator, chocolate covered bacon, ostrich, you name it. It is on a stick. 

7. Toasted Ravioli

One time my school's dining hall tried to serve this ~apparently~ classic dish, and most everyone from the East Coast was wildly confused. Legend says that a cook in St. Louis accidentally dropped his freshly cooked ravioli into a vat of hot oil and the rest is history. Since then, Midwesterners boast their fried ravioli appetizer and can never dip it in too much marinara sauce. 

8. Bison Burgers

A different take on the class beef burger, bison meat has less fat, calories, and cholesterol than your typical burger. It also has a sweeter taste and is typically paired with guacamole or caramelized onions. Count me in.

9. North Dakota Chippers

Potato chips dunked in chocolate. That's really all you need to know. If this is a classic North Dakota dish, I guess I will be leaving my East Coast comfort zone. 

10. Horseshoe Sandwich

Being from the East Coast, I assumed horseshoe crab at the sight of "horseshoe" in the name. But wow, was I wrong. The horseshoe sandwich is actually an open faced sandwich, originating from Springfield, Illinois, that consists of a thick slice of toasted bread, a hamburger patty, french fries, and a "secret" cheese sauce. 

Some of these options are a bit wild and I really don't plan on eating alligator on a stick anytime soon. But, the Midwest food is definitely better than what I predicted.