Photo: Google Trends

Google Found the Most Popular Super Bowl Food in Every State, and It’s Definitely Wrong

News Food + Drink
by Nickolaus Hines Feb 1, 2019

Lists along the lines of “the favorite thing in every state” are fun. They’re fun to identify with and even more fun to argue about. That’s why so many publications (including the one you’re reading now) write them. There’s just one problem: It’s all too easy to get lists about the top/best/favorite thing in all 50 states wrong. Case in point is a Google Trends map about what everyone is eating for the Super Bowl.

The map purports to show the “uniquely searched Super Bowl recipes by state” in the past week. It lists 10 states where watch parties will serve a bunch of cakes or cupcakes and eight states where Buffalo chicken dip is most popular. It also lists that people in Missouri are most interested in broccoli cheese soup, Idahoans just want salad, and a plurality of people in Mississippi are serving granola bars at their Super Bowl party. Granola bars.

If you take the results at face value like some publications did, “some of the findings are pretty surprising.” Or, as one publication breathlessly put it: “Google Trends are always a fascinating glimpse into the regional delicacies and traditions, and their Super Bowl breakdown of the foods searched for most uniquely in each state is no different.”

Only it’s not. Because the regional Super Bowl delicacy of Kentucky is not taco salad. What’s missing from these maps are the numbers. How many people were actually searching for paella in Maine? And how many of those people were doing so because they specifically had a Super Bowl paella craving? Google has made similar maps with zero context in the past, and they’ve had similar questionable entries. If Google searches really told us anything about ourselves, then we’d all know someone who is extremely interested in superb owls this time of year.

Don’t make the mistake of equating Google’s analytics with any deep insight into how the rest of the country has criminally ignored Mississippi’s love for granola. Perhaps the webcomic xkcd puts it best when it made a map that reads, “You can make these maps say whatever you want by adjusting the methodology. Half the time you’re just amplifying random noise because the underlying data doesn’t vary that much from one state to another. But whatever. Nobody checks this stuff. Just pick whatever normalization lets you make fun of Florida.”

The US is a diverse and beautiful country. There are actual regional food traditions and specialties you should care about, like apizza and clam chowder. But if you’d rather just dunk on some states for searching for weird foods in the same week as the Super Bowl, here’s Google’s full list:

Alabama: White chicken chili
Alaska: Nachos
Arizona: Cake
Arkansas: Fried chicken wings
California: Baked chicken breast
Colorado: Broccoli cheese soup
Connecticut: Buffalo chicken dip
Delaware: Chocolate peanut butter cake
Washington, DC: Bagel pigs in a blanket
Florida: Cake
Georgia: Buffalo chicken dip
Hawaii: Football cupcakes
Idaho: Salads
Illinois: Jalapeño poppers
Indiana: Fried rice
Iowa: Irish stew
Kansas: Buffalo chicken dip
Kentucky: Taco salad
Louisiana: Cupcakes
Maine: Paella
Maryland: Pizza
Massachusetts: Gluten-free pretzels
Michigan: Pizza
Minnesota: Tacos
Mississippi: Granola bars
Missouri: Broccoli cheese soup
Montana: Lentil soup
Nebraska: Pigs in a blanket
Nevada: Vegan cheesy bacon spinach dip
New Hampshire: Cakes and cupcakes
New Jersey: Buffalo chicken dip
New Mexico: Pea and peppercorn mash
New York: Spinach dip
North Carolina: Cobb salad
North Dakota: Baked nachos
Ohio: Buffalo chicken dip
Oklahoma: Chicken noodle soup
Oregon: Banana bread
Pennsylvania: Chicken wings
Rhode Island: 7-layer dip
South Carolina: Turkey chili
South Dakota: Cupcakes
Tennessee: Cake
Texas: Spinach dip
Utah: Bacon wrapped smokies
Vermont: Lasagna
Virginia: Buffalo chicken dip
Washington: Cakes
West Virginia: Buffalo chicken dip
Wisconsin: Buffalo chicken dip
Wyoming: Cakes

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