Regional Desserts as American as Apple Pie

New York’s iconic black and white cookies.

Apple pie gets a lot of glory for being the embodiment of American desserts:”As American as apple pie” the saying goes, flatly ignoring the fact that apple pie isn’t an American invention.

That said, American apple pie truly shines when prepared with regional flare — such as being made with sour cream and crumb topping in Amish country or topped with a slice of cheddar in Vermont. But what other regional desserts in the United States have been living in classic apple pie’s warm, buttery shadow?

Black and White Cookie

Like many regional specialties, there is a bit of a battle over where the black and white cookie hails from. Well, apologies to upstate New York, but we’re giving this one to New York City. Commonly found in delis throughout Manhattan and the Bronx, this cookie is half chocolate, half vanilla and wholly delicious. If you’re looking for a quintessential New York sweet treat, do as Jerry Seinfield advised, and look to the cookie.


Akutaq is a prime example of how Alaskans make us lower 48-ers feel inadequate. While we view ice cream as an indulgence, or for its well-known healing properties after a break-up, Alaskans have been making their own, practical version for longer than anyone can remember. Historically made from berries, snow, fish and reindeer fat (or other animal fats), akutaq was nutrient-rich food, ideal for long hunting trips. If the sound of reindeer-fat-flavoured ice-cream doesn’t appeal, don’t worry—nowadays akutaq (aka Eskimo Ice Cream) is made with vegetable shortening rather than animal fat, and sugar is added.

Chess Pie

Much like the game with which it shares a name, chess pie is a puzzle. Where did this tasty pie originate? How did it get its odd name? What few people question is the fact that this dessert is delicious—think pecan pie, minus those pesky pecans. Made in home kitchens throughout the South, you can buy yourself a slice of fancy chess pie (it has chocolate in it!) at The Angus Barn in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Fried Coke

While many American desserts are steeped in history, we mustn’t forget that the U.S. is a nation that embraces the new with gusto. Exhibit A: fried Coke. Featuring fritters flavored with Coca-Cola and topped with a thick, Coke syrup, this dish first gained popularity at the 2006 Texas State Fair, and has bringing soda and dessert together ever since.

Read more: LonelyPlanet

Back to top