While the origins of pasta are lost to the ages, historians generally agree that people have been eating a foodstuff much like we enjoy today for thousands of years. According to Today Online, evidence of various types of pasta noodles and dishes can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and even to the Etruscan civilization that predated Rome.
Over the years, myriad shapes and sizes of noodles were developed, but many of the pasta dishes enjoyed today are relatively recent in their development. For example, though tomatoes made their journey from the Americas to Europe in the early 1500s, according to Britannica, it was not until the 1880s that tomatoes appeared in a lasagna recipe. This was a recipe traced to Naples, according to Italy Magazine.
And as it happens, it was largely from Naples that pasta such as we know it today came to America, according to PBS. It was in that same time period, the late 19th century, that large numbers of emigrants from Naples—and from the rest of Italy—came to the United States and brought their favorite foods with them.
Today, pasta is enjoyed all across the nation, but as you'll see based on a data analysis conducted for Shane Co.'s The Loupe, the preferred pasta dish tends to vary state-to-state. Using Google Trends, they analyzed the search volume of 27 pasta dishes over the past 12 months to find the most popular pasta dish in each state. Here are the most popular pasta dishes in every state based on search trends. (Plus, don't miss these 35+ Healthy Pasta Recipes for Weight Loss!)
Fettuccine Alfredo—#1 in 14 States
An impressive 28% of states prefer Fettuccine Alfredo. This rich, creamy pasta dish is the winner in 14 states. And they are, alphabetically, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. The dish as it is commonly made calls for butter, cream, cheese, and egg. It's extremely rich and decadent, with some restaurant dishes clocking in at over 1,200 calories! Don't worry, we've lightened the dish in our Healthier Fettuccine Alfredo recipe and we promise it will be just as tasty as the heart-clogging original.
Gnocchi—#1 in 5 States
Gnocchi is a potato-based dumpling that does not require a pasta machine, which makes it a perfect first pasta for beginners. It can star in so many types of dishes, from creamy to tomato-based to the stew-like and beyond. This versatility—and the satisfying texture—helps explain why it's the most-searched pasta in five states these days, which are Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Oregon. Try our recipe for Quick Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto.
Spaghetti—#1 in 5 States
When you think of pasta, chances are good that it's a plate of spaghetti that first comes to mind. This certainly seems to be the case in the five states where it's the most popular pasta, according to The Loupe. And those are Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Try this recipe for A Lean Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs Recipe.
Tortellini—#1 in 4 States
If you head to Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, or South Dakota, you'll find yourself in tortellini country. And that's a country it's easy to get behind, because what's not to love about a little curved pocket of pasta that can be stuffed with anything from cheese to pumpkin puree?
Spaghetti with Meatballs—#1 in 3 States
Arguably spaghetti with meatballs is the most iconic Italian-American dish of all. It's also the go-to pasta dish for people in three states: Hawaii, Kentucky, and Vermont.
Squid Ink Pasta—#1 in 3 States
People in Illinois, Maryland, and New York can't seem to get enough of squid ink pasta. Squid ink pasta is traditional pasta that has been darkened with ink sourced from a squid (or cuttlefish). According to Healthline, the ink adds a savory flavor and may have some medicinal benefits, too.
Cannelloni—#1 in 2 States
Cannelloni consists of a very large tube of pasta stuffed with a variety of fillings and often topped with melted cheese and sauce. It's the most popular pasta in Missouri and Nevada.
Lasagna—#1 in 2 States
Garfield would have a hard time believing this one, but lasagna is only the most popular pasta dish in Alaska and Wisconsin, according to search data. If you're craving this cozy casserole, try 23+ Best Healthy Lasagna Recipes for Weight Loss.
Lobster Mac and Cheese—#1 in 2 States
Lobster mac and cheese is the go-to pasta dish in two states, but neither of them happens to be all major players in the lobster fishing scene. Maine is the largest producer of lobster in the United States, but lobster mac and cheese is most popular in California and Florida. They are both, however, next to large bodies of water.
Manicotti—#1 in 2 States
If you love cannelloni, you'll love manicotti. The same is true in reverse because really these are both just big tubes of pasta stuffed with select ingredients—the manicotti noodles simply have some added texture. And these thick stuffed noodles are the go-to pasta in two states that happen to be side-by-side: Nebraska and Wyoming.
All the Rest
From here on out, each type of pasta is #1 in one state alone. In Connecticut, it's linguine with clam sauce. In Delaware, it's shrimp scampi. In Maine, they love spaghetti carbonara. In New Hampshire, ravioli wins. In New Jersey, penne alla vodka does. Rhode Islanders love spaghetti aglio e olio, which is a simple preparation of garlic and olive oil. Virginians love macaroni and cheese. In Washington, it's truffle pasta. And in Washington D.C. it's pasta puttanesca. (By the way, if you put all the spaghetti dishes in one category, it would come in second.)
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