A Taste of Ohio – The Top Five

May 24, 2017

This October St. Louis will play host to Flavored Nation, what’s certain to be the most talked about food event experience since the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The event will feature tastes from every state in the country, and I have the pleasure of seeking out the signature taste of Ohio.

I asked people on Facebook and Instagram their thoughts on the iconic flavor of Ohio and got a variety of responses, including:

  • Chili dogs from Tony Packo’s (mentioned multiple times)
  • Pierogis in Cleveland
  • Skyline chili from Cincinnati (mentioned multiple times)
  • Troyer’s Trail Bologna
  • “Columbus-style” pizza (like Donatos)
  • Ice cream (“Aside from Italy’s obsession with gelato in Roma, I have never seen a region so declarative of its ice cream companies,” said Kylie on FB.)
  • Goetta
  • Richie’s BB tartar sauce and onion rings in Cincinnati
  • Kolaches from Cleveland
  • Sauerkraut balls from Columbus
  • Crabill’s from Urbana
  • Pawpaws
  • Bacon
  • Tom + Chee
  • Buckeyes or anything buckeye flavored (there were a LOT of votes for this on Instagram)
  • Green bean casserole
  • City Chicken

It’s a curious mix of things. Definitely some German and Eastern European flavors, as a nod to early settlers of the region. There are a lot of meats on that list, especially prepared ones like bacon, goetta (a Cincinnati staple of meat, oats, and spices), chili, bologna. Some regional fast food chains. Some home-made recipes. And some sweet flavors like ice cream and our favorite chocolate-and-peanut butter combo.

The challenge for Ohio, as many pointed out, is that the state is a collection of regions, from old industrial cities along Lake Erie, to cities dotting on the Ohio River, to small towns set amongst farmland, to the rolling hills of the southeast, to the planned capital of Columbus.

That said, our job here is to whittle down the signature tastes of Ohio. It’s no easy task. But my vote for the top five tastes of Ohio are:

1. Chili: There are regional differences in style, but chili seems to be a common comfort food across the state. We serve up hearty bowls of it in the winter, and we top our hot dogs with it in the summer.

2. Ice cream: I have to agree with Kylie’s sentiment: Ohio is big on ice cream. It helps that our state features farmland with plenty of dairy producers to supply everything from classic heritage brands to newer boutique shops. From Jeni’s in Columbus to Velvet Ice Cream in Utica to Young’s in Yellow Springs, we make these ice cream shops a destination.

3. The Buckeye: This could be taken as the actual ball-shaped peanut butter and chocolate delicacy, the one that looks like the nuts from the buckeye tree, or… you could make the argument that anything buckeye-flavored counts, from donuts to ice creams to beer (ever tried a Bourbon Meyer Buckeye Stout at Barley’s?) to peanut butter and chocolate sandwiches.

4. Bacon: Bacon had multiple proponents, and I think you could make a strong argument for it. Ohio pork producers have blessed us with the best part of breakfast for decades. Bacon can be down-home or artisanal. It’s another nod to our agricultural strength, and speaks to our skill at producing, curing, and smoking meats. Also, you can put it in/on anything, and it automatically makes the dish better.

5. I’m going to make my own addition here: Donuts. We’ve discovered so many old school donut shops across the state, in every big city and every small town. There are family-owned donut shops that have served their communities for decades. Everyone measures all other donut places against their hometown shop – just like the neighborhood diner.

What do you think of the list? What would you vote as the signature taste of Ohio? Want to share your thoughts? Tag your posts on social media with #FlavoredNation, and follow Flavored Nation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Flavored Nation. Opinions are my own.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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