NYT settles grape dispute with nod to wild rice

Good news! Minnesotans have been validated.

The New York Times has revised its infamous state-by-state breakdown of popular Thanksgiving foods. Sort of.

Instead, the Times is providing a breakdown based on Google searches. Even then, the Times anticipates another outcry.

You should not interpret the dishes here as the most iconic Thanksgiving recipes in each state, or even a state’s favorite dish. It’s possible that some dishes are so central to a state’s culture that people there don’t need to search for them on the web, for instance. But academic research – on everything from voter turnout to flu epidemics – has found that Google searching can be a meaningful indictor of behavior and attitudes. We certainly learned a lot from the analysis – ooey gooey bars! pig pickin cake! – and have had great fun talking about them around the office in the last few days. We hope you enjoy it as much.

Minnesota has regained wild rice and given up grape salad.


Perhaps we’re too sensitive, but do we detect a “can you believe those sensitive Minnesotans” attitude in the description?

Few food-related articles in the Times got more attention from Minnesotans than the much-debated Grape Salad recipe, which was literally front-page news in the Twin Cities. Many Minnesotans insist that they don’t make the dish. Whatever you think of #GrapeGate, there’s no denying that Minnesotans do love their salads, especially if the main ingredients are Cool Whip and Snickers bars. The uncontestably Minnesotan dish of wild-rice casserole tops the list, with strong showings by lefse and bacon-wrapped smokies, a distant member of the pigs-in-a-blanket family.

Almost every other state has been updated too. Clams are out in Massachusetts and butternut squash is in. Bacon is gone from Pennsylvania and “dirt pudding” has taken its place. Wild rice is gone from Wisconsin, leaving cheeseheads with a heaping helping of brownberry stuffing.

Nebraska now has “snicker salad” which we believe is code for “grape salad,” which no longer appears anywhere in the country.