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Two slices of bread. Fifty states. Endless possibilities. In honor of National Sandwich Day on November 3, we break down every state’s most iconic, must-eat sandwich from the Redwood Forest to the gulf stream waters. How many have you tried?

RELATED: 5 European fast food restaurants every American should try

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Photo: Sirsendu.mohanta via Wikimedia Commons

Alabama: Chicken Sandwich with White Sauce

“Barbecue” means something different in just about every state. But in the Heart of Dixie, the quintessential barbecue sandwich is pulled chicken with white sauce—a gravy made of vinegar and mayonnaise that’s thicker than the humidity of an Alabama Indian summer.


Alaska: Reindeer Sausage Sandwich

Santa might put you on the naughty list for this one, but where else can you try spicy sausage links made from reindeer meat? While the animals technically came to the Last Frontier by way of Siberia, reindeer sausages, burgers and loose meat sandwiches will go down in Alaska history.

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Arizona: Navajo Taco

We can argue semantics all day long—does a taco count as a sandwich?—but one thing’s irrefutable: This mashup of the state’s Native American and Mexican influences just works. Warm, pillowy fry bread wrapped around the taco fillings of your choice will satisfy any Grand Canyon-sized hunger.


Arkansas: Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Funny how a sandwich spread that got its start in 1870s upstate New York, is a staple of picnic tables and greasy spoons across the present-day South. Whether your prefer yours grilled or chilled, with or without the fixin’s, this concoction of shredded cheese, mayonnaise and diced cherry peppers belongs between two slices of white bread.

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California: French Dip

Hollywood types don’t always eat, but when they do, they dig into this indulgent sammy that was invented in Los Angeles in the early 20th century. While a pair of L.A. restaurants argue over which eatery was the birthplace of the sandwich, we’ll be digging to roast beef on a French roll, with a side of pan sauce for dipping.

Colorado: Bison Burger

This sandwich pays homage to a time when American bison—a.k.a. buffalo—roamed free across Colorado’s mountains and prairies. Lately, the juicy bison burger has become ubiquitous in the state’s restaurants because it’s leaner than beef. Order yours cooked however you’d ask for a traditional hamburger.

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Connecticut: Hot Lobster Roll

While Maine popularized the cold, mayonnaisey lobster sandwich, Connecticut-style rolls are served warm on a grilled frankfurter bun with a side of melted butter for dipping. Because some like it hot.

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Delaware: Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich

Each summer, blue crabs in the Delaware Bay come out of hibernation and molt their old shells. Why should you care? Because in the days before their new shell can harden, the crabs get harvested for their tender meat, battered in a mixture of cornmeal and flour, deep fried and served on a bun for your enjoyment.

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Florida: Cuban Sandwich

Talk about a melting pot: This sandwich got its start in the late 19th century, when Tampa’s cigar factory workers needed a meal they could eat on the go, and its ingredients reflect the industry’s immigrant workers: ham for the Spanish; Genoa salami for the Italians; Swiss cheese, dill pickles and yellow mustard for the Germans and Jews; hot-pressed between slices of soft, flaky Cuban bread. It’s like the United Nations in one delicious package..

Flickr CC: Terry Alexander

Georgia: Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

At the risk of dropping a brand name, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge this fast food chain’s chicken sandwich dominance. The first Chick-fil-A opened in 1967 in suburban Atlanta, and it’s been creating long drive-through lines ever since. In 2012, protesters who took issue with the company’s politics vowed to boycott the chain, circulating copycat recipes online. But regardless of where you stand politically, it’s hard to recreate the magic of Chick-fil-A’s boneless chicken breast seasoned, breaded and pressure-cooked golden brown in peanut oil, served on a toasted bun with dill pickle chips.

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Hawaii: Kālu Pork Sandwich

Kālua is Hawaiian for “baked in an earth oven,” but whether your sandwich starts with a whole pig smoked in a sand pit with sea salt or just pork butt tenderized in a slow cooker with cabbage, the pulled pork is a vacation for your taste buds. Top with pineapple salsa, and you’ve got a luau on a bun.

RELATED: 7 must-try Hawaiian foods on Maui

Idaho: Potato Salad Sandwich

You know what goes great with carbs? More carbs. According to the Idaho Potato Commission (because of course this is a thing), traditional potato salad comprises spuds, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and diced celery. If you’re feeling fancy, throw in chopped onion, chopped hard-boiled egg or fresh herbs. Put it between two slices of bread for a satisfying house of carbs.

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Illinois: Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Quibble all you want. But because Chicagoans are so particular about how they take their ‘dogs, we’d like to state it here for the record: It’s gotta be an all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun, topped with tomato wedges, a dill pickle spear, yellow mustard, sweet relish, chopped onion, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. No ketchup, no way.

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Indiana: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

It won’t win any beauty contests, but the Hoosier State’s tenderloin sandwich exemplifies the Midwestern value of function over fashion: a pork cutlet, pounded out until it’s comically large, fried until golden brown, then drooped over a hamburger bun.

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Iowa: Sloppy Joe

As the story goes, in 1930s Sioux City, a cafe cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwiches. Every since, the messy meal has been the delight of schoolchildren and the laundry detergent industry. The basic recipe still satisfies: ground beef sauteed with chopped onion, smothered with sweet red sauce and globbed onto a hamburger bun that never stood a chance.

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Kansas: Pulled Pork Sandwich

Folks go hog wild for Kansas City-style barbecue, which starts with meat that’s seasoned with dry rub, smoked over hickory or cherry wood and covered with a tomato-based sauce. Not a drop of vinegar in sight.


Hot Brown sandwich from Kurtz Restaurant, Bardstown, Kentucky | Photo: Shadle via Wiki

Kentucky: Hot Brown

This open-faced sandwich dates back to the 1920s at Louisville’s stately Brown Hotel, where guests would dance until the break of dawn and stumble, famished, into the hotel’s restaurant. Rather than the usual eggs, the chef cooked up a fancier dish that remains a hit today: an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich topped with Mornay sauce, then broiled to golden brown perfection.

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Louisiana: Shrimp Po’ Boy

This legendary N’awlins sandwich came into fashion during the Depression-era street car strike, when owners of a local restaurant fed the striking drivers in a show of solidarity. Now, whether you’re a poor boy or you’ve got deep pockets, you’ll be richly rewarded as you devour this hoagie of of fried shrimp on crusty French bread, topped with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and hot sauce.

Flickr CC: dinnercraft

Maine: Italian

The only thing Italian about this sandwich (don’t call it a sub) is its inventor—baker Giovanni Amato, who created this affordable, portable lunch for Portland construction workers back in 1899. Today, both blue- and white-collar New Englanders favor this sandwich composed of a crusty roll filled with ham, American cheese, diced onion, sour pickles, tomatoes, green peppers and black olives. Molto buono.

Flickr CC: Mr TinDC

Maryland: Crab Cake Sandwich

On the Chesapeake Bay, a summer without crab cakes is like corn without a cob. The classic preparation calls for crab meat seasoned with Old Bay—of course—and fried golden brown. Enjoy on your bun of choice with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.


Massachusetts: Fluffernutter

It’s an entree. It’s a dessert. It’s the only sandwich on this list that has its own commercial jingle, as far as we know. (YouTube it.) This oh-so-American delicacy of peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff on white bread became popular during World War I, when folks on the homefront were asked to go meatless once a week. Those who bite into this sticky sandwich, we salute you.


Michigan: Reuben Sandwich

No one’s claiming the Reuben sandwich was invented in Michigan. But Detroit’s delis have all but perfected salt-cured beef, making Michigan a popular spot for lovers of the Reuben: thinly sliced corned beef and Swiss cheese, piled high onto buttery marble rye bread, topped with sauerkraut and Russian dressing, then grilled or hot-pressed. It’s a great sandwich for the Great Lake state.

Minnesota: Gizmo Sandwich

There’s no shortage of food options at the massive Minnesota State Fair. (Bacon fluffernutter, anyone?) But it’s this Italian grinder-like creation that has locals, tourists and celebrities flocking to the annual event. Sauteed ground beef and sausage meat co-mingle on a sub bun, covered in marinara sauce and mozzarella, broiled to perfection. Just hold off on riding the Starship 3000 until your food settles.

Mississippi: Slugburger

Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like. The Magnolia State staple that once cost a slug (slang for a nickel) consists of a beef patty mixed with a cheap extender—traditionally cornmeal; in more recent years, soybean meal. Fry it in vegetable oil, add a bun, garnish with mustard, pickle and onions, and you’ve got yourself a sandwich worth celebrating. The annual Slugburger Festival takes place each July in downtown Corinth.

Missouri: St. Paul Sandwich

When you think Asian fusion, what comes to mind? Probably not a crispy egg foo young patty with mayo, lettuce, tomato and dill pickles on white bread. But that’s exactly what you get when you order the St. Paul in St. Louis, where most Missourians agree the sandwich actually originated.

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Montana: Elk Burger

The fourth-largest state in the nation has plenty of room to roam, so it’s no surprise that game meat is big here—no pun intended. Elk meat, with its slightly sweet flavor, is leaner but higher in protein than beef, making it a ready alternative to the traditional hamburger patty. Order it the way you’d order any hamburger. We’re game.

Nebraska: Runza

In other words, Nebraska is known by its generic name. Runza Restaurants started in 1949, and it’s signature sandwich of yeast dough filled with ground beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions and seasonings has grown so popular that a runza has become the generic term for any such sandwich. Call it a win for Nebraska’s German and Russian immigrants, who started it all.

Nevada: Catfish Sloppy Joe

When Rick Moonen was a kid, his mom kept him and his six siblings well fed with her inventive sandwich. Decades later, at the helm of RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip, Moonen cooked up his childhood staple of fried catfish with sloppy joe sauce on a potato roll for customers. The catfish sloppy joe is no longer on RM’s menu, but its unlikely existence embodies the anything-goes spirit of Sin City.

New Hampshire: Moe’s Original Italian Sandwich

In 1959, cheese salesman Phil “Moe” Pagano opened a sandwich shop selling only one menu item: an Italian-style sub made with cooked salami, provolone, sliced onions and peppers, dill pickles, tomatoes, olives and a dash of olive oil. Since then, Moe’s has opened more than a dozen locations statewide and expanded its menu, but the Original Italian continues be synonymous with the Granite State.

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New Jersey: Taylor Ham Breakfast Sandwich

Whether you call it Taylor Ham or pork roll, this processed meat has been a Garden State favorite ever since native son John Taylor supposedly invented it in 1856. Serve it with egg and cheese on your favorite bun for a breakfast sandwich that’s uniquely New Joisey.

Flickr CC: Samat K Jain

New Mexico: Green Chile Cheeseburger

If you’ve already stepped foot inside the Land of Enchantment, then you already know its most iconic sandwich is a cheeseburger with a green chile slapped on top. Consider yourself a fan? Follow the Green Chile Trail which loops in all the best burger joints in the entire state.

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New York: Pastrami on Rye
Unless a slice of folded-over pizza is considered a sandwich, the winner is this Empire State classic, born in the Jewish delis of Manhattan and starring a combo of precariously piled high pastrami slathered in spicy brown mustard and served between two slices of rye bread. 

North Carolina: Carolina Style Hamburger (or Hot Dog)
Who needs the standard ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, etc. when you can layer a burger with chili con carne, coleslaw, chopped onions and mustard? Try the version at Al’s Burger Shack in Chapel Hill or at Duke’s Grill in Charlotte.

Flickr CC: Larry Miller

North Dakota: Hot Beef Sandwich
Here’s how you survive a brutal winter in Fargo. Take a slice of Wonder bread, add generous heaps of tender roast beef, top all that with a scoop of mashed potatoes and smother it all in hot gravy. It goes without saying you’ll need a knife and fork for this one.

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Ohio: Polish Boy
The Cincy born chili dog is a worthy rival, but we’re giving props to this Cleveland classic featuring kielbasa in a bun, and topped with French fries, a layer of barbecue sauce or hot sauce, and a layer of coleslaw. Ask your doctor if eating a Polish Boy is right for you!

Oklahoma: Fried Onion Burger
Born out of Depression-era necessity, crafty Sooner State cooks in El Reno took to chopping up loads of onions (cheap back in the day) and mashing them right into the patty. Sound good? Numerous places including Robert’s Grill, Johnnie’s Grill and Sid’s Diner still serve ‘em up!

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Oregon: Bahn Mi Sandwich
The porchetta sammy at Portland’s Lardo’s is justly ballyhooed as is the Garbage Sandwich from Luigi’s in Medford but thanks to Portland’s Vietnamese community, the state has become an exporter of the bahn mi, a baguette stuffed with pork, mayo, cilantro, lime juice, cucumber and onion (or some variation thereof).

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Pennsylvania: Cheesesteak Sandwich

Although Primati Bros. in Pittsburgh deserves props for having the nerve to stuff French fries in the middle of a sandwich, the gold medal goes to the Philly genius who first carved up thin slices of beefsteak topped with melted cheese and stuffed it all inside a hoagie. Worth the heart attack!

Rhode Island: Hot Wiener
The alleged creation of the Olneyville New York System restaurant in Providence, the hot wiener includes a dog crafted of veal and pork sitting in a steamed bun and topped with mustard, chopped onion, celery salt, and a “secret” sauce made, in part, with ground beef.

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South Carolina: Pulled Pork Sandwich
Some sandwiches never make it out of their home state or region—we’re looking at you, reindeer sausage sandwich—but the pulled pork sandwich (made with piled high tender pork topped with BBQ sauce and slaw) can be found virtually everywhere these days. Lucky us!

South Dakota: Pheasant Salad Sandwich

This patriotic American sandwich has its origins in Aberdeen’s “Pheasant Canteen,” a World War II USO that served about half a million troops during World War II. Around 1943, local farmers started donating pheasants, South Dakota’s most popular game bird, and canteen cooks had an instant hit on their hands when they made them into a salad and then a sandwich (the original recipe included chopped pheasant, chopped hard-boiled eggs, onion, celery, pickle relish and mayo). You can pick up a tasty version at Brooking’s Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge, which opened as a gas station-cafe in 1949.

Tennessee: Hoecake Sandwich

Many would contend that the “Elvis,” that sickly sweet layering of fried peanut butter and bananas, is Tennessee’s most iconic sandwich, but we opted for an equally worthy entry, one that people over the age of 7 would actually want to eat. This regional favorite incorporates the Volunteer State’s barbecue heritage and the hoecake, a griddle-fried cornmeal cake, making it a homegrown delicacy we can’t resist.


Texas: Barbecue Brisket
Texas is a hot contender for best barbecue state, so it comes as no surprise that their most iconic sandwich is brisket, loaded up with chopped or sliced barbecued beef, typically served on a toasted white bun, roll or toast. What makes these famed sandwiches a labor of love is that they’re slow-smoked for hours (12-18, to be exact, at serious joints such as Franklin’s in Austin). Fixin’s are up to you, though they’ll likely include pickles, onions and jalapeño peppers.

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Utah: Pastrami Burger

The Beehive State may not be on the national dining map for much, but consider the pastrami burger their culinary mic drop. Think two kinds of beef—a charbroiled burger and thinly sliced pastrami, natch—served on a sesame bun dripping with fry sauce (a ketchup-mayo mix also originating in Utah) and topped with tomatoes, shredded lettuce and onion. While some say the sandwich originated in Southern California, this tasty twofer was perfected at Salt Lake City’s Greek-American owned Crown Burgers about four decades ago. The pastrami burger has since made its way to smart sandwich joints across the state (though why this genius hybrid isn’t available in every state remains a mystery to us).

Vermont: The Vermonter

Thank you, Vermont, for this relatively healthy addition to our not-so-healthy list. Vermont’s namesake sandwich is typically made up of either turkey or ham, sharp Vermont cheddar and Granny Smith apple slices topped with honey mustard and served on hearty bread that’s hand-kneaded by a hippie from a co-op in the nearby hills (JK about that last part). You’ll likely find a variation of the Vermonter in many Green Mountain State delis and lunch spots, but Klinger’s Bread Company in South Burlington makes one of the best; theirs is the smoked turkey version, served on cranberry pecan bread with a homemade raspberry sour cream spread.

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Virginia: Country Ham Biscuits

While these all-occasion delights can be found throughout the South, Virginia gets credit for this sandwich, since Smithfield is the uncontested birthplace of Southern-style country ham. While the sandwich, typically made of country ham, a fluffy biscuit and honey mustard, can be found in just about every part of the country now (and every McDonald’s breakfast menu, TBH), one of its finest examples resides close to its origins, at Carrot Tree Kitchens in Williamsburg.

Washington: Smoked Salmon Sandwich

Many of the sandwiches featured on this list earned their rankings through heritage and popularity. But in Washington, it’s official: The smoked salmon sandwich on wheat became the state’s official sandwich in 1987. Condiments, say lawmakers, are your choice.

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West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll

The Mountain State had a surprising number of contenders. Should we go with the old, reliable fish sandwich? Or any of the irresistible biscuits from Tudor’s? Or maybe the Dixie Dog, in all its chili- and slaw-covered glory? No, instead we went with the pepperoni roll because it serves both as a nod to an important West Virginia immigrant community and to the state’s coal history: Italians working in the mines found that the pepperoni stuffed into a bread dough sheaf made for a tidy, delicious snack to take underground with them. Sometimes you’ll find it topped with cheese and/or sauce.

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Wisconsin: Beer Brat

How much Wisconsin can you cram into a sandwich? When it comes to bratwurst in the Dairy State, the answer is a lot. Brats are ubiquitous in Wisconsin, thanks to the state’s strong German heritage, and so is beer, so why not simmer one in the other? Then add butter and onions and char. For good measure, top that sucker off with more Wisconsin by way of mustard, sauerkraut and/or fried cheese curds. While beer brats are traditionally a tailgaiting fave, Milwaukee Brat House serves up a fine example on a German pretzel bun.

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Wyoming: Bison Burger

In Wyoming, buffalo still roam. They’re also raised on local ranches and then, eventually, ground into delicious, lean burgers. The burgers are often pan-seared or grilled, and topped with the usual lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion, as well as richer options such as mayo, barbecue sauce or even bacon. If you like what you taste, look for bison reubens, steaks, tacos and more, also widely available around Wyoming.

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