“I’ve been into the habit of freezing white grapes and using them as a snack. Instead of eating peanuts or popcorn or something like that or pretzels, I just eat the white grapes.” – Mike Ditka


Frozen white grapes? At first we thought we must have gotten the Mike Ditka quotes mixed up with the Richard Simmons quotes. When you think of Iron Mike snacking, don’t you imagine him gnawing on a haunch of roast elk and picking his teeth with a railroad spike? At least give us a Slim Jim washed down with a brewski. Frozen white grapes?

What got the Idler exploring the topic of snacks was a report published a week or so ago that Pennsylvania’s neighbor to the North, the state of New York, had named an “Official Snack.” It’s yogurt. Seriously. You’d think that with all the famous steakhouses in Gotham, including Sparks, where Big Paul Castellano didn’t even make it to the appetizer course, they’d have come up with something a little meatier. What about clams from Umberto’s in Little Italy? Doesn’t yogurt come from yak milk or something? Anyway, We checked it all out on a website that lists Official State Foods:


The first thing you notice is that most of the states, Pennsylvania included, don’t have any official state foods. Among our neighboring states, Ohio and West Virginia have no entries. Maryland and Delaware named only official state desserts; “Smith Island Cake” for Maryland in 2008 and Peach Pie for Delaware in 2011. Wait a minute, where does Delaware get off claiming peach pie? Imagine how Georgia feels. When they found out, they were so despondent that they named “Grits” as their official “prepared food.” New Jersey’s got nothing. You got a problem with that?

A lot of people think that we have a state cookie, namely the chocolate chip. Not so. It turns out that a hotly contested debate has been raging since 1996 between proponents of the Chocolate chip Nazareth Sugar Cookie and of the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie. Meanwhile, in 1997, Massachusetts got their batter up and named their Toll House chocolate chip cookie their official state cookie. This seems hardly fair since they already have Boston Cream Pie as their official dessert, and the Baked Navy Bean as their official bean. Inquiries as to whether Bill Belichick was their Official Nut went unanswered.

But in the snack area, only New York, Illinois (popcorn, real imaginative) and Texas (tortilla chips and salsa), have weighed in, so we need to act fast. (By the way, rumors that West Virginia is mulling over which species of roadkill to settle on as official state snack have been vehemently denied.) We could go with kolbossi, but then you’ll get disputes among the language purists about whether or not to spell it “kielbasa.” Chipped ham is always a possibility, but maybe you want to hold off until the competition for “Official State Sammitch” is announced.


The obvious choice for Pennsylvania would be the Potato chip, what with Snyder’s, Herr’s and Utz’s being major producers. I think we need to think bigger, though. Our snack can be the whole potato, whether chipped, mashed, french-fried or baked. In fact, maybe we should think outside the spud. I’d like to take this opportunity to nominate the Idler as Pennsylvania’s official couch-potato!

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