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Illinois Loves Green Bell Peppers, Meat

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 3, 2014 4:00PM

Photo credit: Avi Schwab

I can’t stand green bell peppers. Maybe it’s a combination of their ubiquity in recipes and their presence in family dinners growing up. I prefer the sweeter flavor of red, orange and yellow bell peppers, and the spice and heat of smaller peppers.

And yet green bell peppers are one of the most distinctive food items in Illinois, according to a map of such foodstuffs made by Co.Design. The website partnered with the food industry analysts at Food Genius to put together the five most distinctive regional food trends and a map of the top five weirdest eating patterns of each state in the nation. In Illinois, green bell peppers top the list, followed by “bell pepper, skirt steak, Italian sausage and “breaded.”

Green bell peppers topping this list is neither surprising nor shocking, since it’s a main ingredient in so many menu staples including pizzas, fajitas, stuffed peppers and other items. Green peppers and Italian sausage are almost sacrosanct items in deep dish pizza. Travel to the South and West sides and you’ll find three of these items—green peppers, skirt steak and breading—combined in a breaded steak sandwich. So, much like everything else in Illinois, downstaters have Chicagoans to thank for this list.

The interactive map Co.Design created is worth scrolling over, if only to see the number of states where ranch dressing is the top food item. Prawns are huge on the West coast and Pacific Northwest, meaning we need to plan a trip out west soon.