In the past, fried food could only be found in fast-food drive-thrus, and it usually came in the form of french fries or onion rings; but in 2022, the deep fryer is putting in overtime. Creative fried fare like fried pickles, fried ravioli, and deep-fried Oreos are now ogled by hungry Americans at state fairs and food truck rodeos across the country.
But which novelty fried foods are Americans most curious to try? We turned to Google Trends to find out, analyzing the search volume of 70 popular fried food items (both savory and sweet) to uncover which fried foods residents in each state are drooling over most!
Using Google Trends, Shane Co. analyzed the search volume of 70 state fair-style fried foods over the past 12 months to determine the most searched fried food in each state and nationwide. Referencing Food Network, Southern Living, and Taste of Home, our list of search terms included 48 popular savory fried foods and 22 popular sweet fried foods.
Every State’s Favorite Savory Fried Food
A state or county fair is the perfect time to indulge in that savory, greasy crunch of fried food. From seafood and meat to vegetables and cheese, there aren’t many food groups Americans won’t fry!
In some regions, different types of fried seafood are what Americans are Googling most. Fried calamari, most searched in Connecticut and Rhode Island, is one of America’s favorite bar appetizers, while fried cod lands on top in Kentucky. The South is notorious for frying its seafood, so it’s no surprise that fried catfish is searched most in the deep Southern states of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Other local foods that are most popular in their states include North Carolina’s favorite, hushpuppies, a delicious fried snack the size of a golf ball that’s perfect for dipping in yummy sauces. Another popular local dish is chicharrones, a fried pork dish, in New Mexico. Lastly, South Dakota’s most searched fried food is chislic, a skewered red meat dish including deep-fried cubes of lamb, beef, or venison.
Every State’s Favorite Sweet Fried Food
Think of your favorite desserts like ice cream, cheesecake, donuts, and pies. Is your mouth watering yet? Now, imagine throwing them into a deep fryer! It’s a dangerously delicious combination.
Have you ever heard of a cronut? We haven’t either, but it’s the top-searched fried food in three states! A cronut is a flaky, buttery, croissant-donut hybrid with a delicious glaze, invented in 2013 at Ansel’s bakery in New York. Cronuts are not only New York’s most popular fried food, but they have also gained fame in Arkansas and Colorado, according to Google searches.
Washington D.C.’s most popular sweet fried food is latkes — a traditional Jewish potato pancake typically enjoyed around Hanukkah and best served with apple jam or creme fraiche. Several popular restaurants in our nation’s capital offer latkes as a must-try dish, including Call Your Mother Deli and Buffalo & Bergen.
Come fall, Americans agree that apples are best when they’re fried. Apple fritters are a popular Northern dessert, most searched in five states — Maine, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Vermont. What’s more, fried apple pie is the apple dish of the South, most searched in three Southern states — Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The Most Popular Savory Fried Foods Overall
The overall results are clear. Classic french fries and onion rings are the most popular savory fried foods in the U.S., both most popular in five states. Americans bank on these staple sides at ballparks, hot dog joints, and dive bars alike. French fries are most popular in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington, while onion rings are most popular in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
Fried chicken is ubiquitous in the South, so we were surprised to see that the fried bird was most searched in California, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. California and New York are known for their gourmet food, and fried chicken is no exception. Check out Eater Magazine’s top picks for fried chicken in New York and California.
Fried avocado is a newer exploration, beloved by foodies and best served inside a taco or burrito. Per Google Trends, search volume peaked for this food item in the spring of 2019, when the avocado obsession was at an all-time high. Fried avocado tacos, specifically, are most searched in two largely populated states — Colorado and Texas.
The Most Popular Sweet Fried Foods Overall
Deep-fried Oreos, funnel cake, and churros are common high-calorie menu items at your local fair. The hardest part is figuring out which one to indulge in.
One of the most popular fair foods of all time is deep-fried Oreos. Americans have fallen in love with these chocolatey, gooey bites, usually paired with powdered sugar or frosting drizzle. Deep-fried Oreos are most searched in a whopping nine states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
Fried ice cream and Long Johns follow as the second most popular fried sweets in the U.S., both most searched in six states. A genius invention, fried ice cream consists of frozen ice cream covered in fried batter and typically paired with powdered sugar and chocolate syrup. It’s most popular in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Long Johns, log-shaped donuts covered in cake frosting, are most popular in the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Craving fried zucchini and a funnel cake? Grab your significant other and check out the fried food selection at your state’s fair this fall. A Ferris wheel just may be the perfect spot to propose with your Shane Co. engagement ring.