6 American Food Stereotypes That Hold Up
Analyzing 890 Million Tweets Across the US


Stereotypes aren't always bad or rooted in negativity. And sometimes they turn out to be pretty accurate. Such is the case when we consider regional differences across the United States in attitudes toward foods.

We all know them. Texans are busy making barbecue. New Englanders love bagels. Midwesterners eat a lot of cheese. Californians can't get enough sushi. Folks on the coasts eat healthy, while the South and Midwest ... well, not so much.

According to our analysis of a year's worth of Twitter mention data, some of those regional food stereotypes might actually be right on the money.

Southern-Fried Everything

As the birthplace of American fried chicken, it shouldn't be surprising that we see "fried" mentioned more often in the South than any other place. A swath of the South appears to be the cradle of the fried food movement: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina. That's not to say the South is the only place where fried food is beloved. It is delicious, after all, and folks in Midwestern states like Indiana and Eastern states like Maryland agree.


Say Cheese

Of the food items we examined, mention volumes for "Cheese" were higher than for the five other regional delicacies, and by quite a bit. About three times as many mentions were noted for "Cheese" than for "Salad," another food on our list. And it perhaps shouldn't be any surprise that the epicenter of the cheese-loving world is Wisconsin and its neighbors.


Bagel Everything

The least-mentioned food on our list, the bagel, is revered throughout New England, with much heavier mentions in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York City than anywhere else in the U.S. by far.


L.A. Dreams of Sushi

With the second-highest search volume of the regional foods on our list, sushi is clearly at home in California. From Northern California to just north of San Diego, mentions for "Sushi" are intense, but other sushi-loving places include the rest of the West Coast, the New Orleans area, southern Florida, and New York.



Texas is barbecue country. But so is Kansas City. And so are Memphis and Nashville. We searched for mentions of both "Barbecue" and "BBQ" to see where the smoky meat treat is most popular, and there's no doubt Texas is the hub. Mentions there easily outpace everywhere else.



Salad Days

Salad has a shockingly long history, dating back to ancient civilizations. Today we think of it as something health-obsessed people on the coasts eat, and according to mention volume, that's pretty much true. "Salad" mentions are much heavier all along the West Coast and throughout New England, and the Denver area presents another pocket of healthy eating.


Featured Regional Differences

While no official deaths resulted from the Cola Wars of the 1980s, the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi goes deep, and it's a battle being fought on the consumer marketplace every day.

From the youth level to the pros, sports are a central preoccupation for millions of Americans. While baseball had been considered the American sport, football has taken up that mantle.

For short words, "yes" and "no" pack a lot of meaning. Yes, we can. No new taxes. These tiny words can be sentences all on their own, and they help reveal cultural attitudes.

Make Your Own Comparison


About the Data

The data includes over 65,000 of the most frequently occurring words from an 8.9 billion word corpus of 890 million geocoded Tweets. Word frequencies are smoothed over the nearest neighboring counties to produce the maps. The source data is available under a Creative Commons License for others to collaborate.