The 12 Most Popular Desserts in the Northeastern United States
America loves their desserts, and with every region you will find that there are a number of certain sweet concoctions that are especially popular. The Northeastern region of the United States includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The Northeastern region of the United States is home to most of the original thirteen colonies, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Within those states are many historical landmarks that can be traced back to the earliest and most significant days of America, including Gettysburg, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania and Plymouth in Massachusetts. Our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., is also located in the Northeastern region of the United States.
These states not only have a rich history in and of themselves, but also when it comes to their dessert culture, so let’s head up North and check out the twelve most popular desserts in the Northeastern United States!
Apple Pie – Northeastern United States
With a long, storied history, the classic Apple Pie came with the original settlers when they arrived from England long ago, and with good reason! Although it didn’t quite start out the same way it’s made now, it’s evolved into the sliced apples sitting in a pie crust with a second crust placed over it that we all know and love today. There’s just nothing quite like an apple pie made with fresh tart New England apples, cinnamon, and sugar baking up on a chilly fall day.
Black-and-White Cookies – New York
These cookies originated in upstate New York and are popular throughout the Northeast as well as on the East Coast, even though many bakeries all over the United States produces them. The cake-like cookie base has a topping that is half chocolate fondant and half vanilla fondant, thus where its name comes from. It gained its fame when it was produced by Glaser’s Bake Shop in New York City in 1902, and although this famous bake shop closed down almost three years ago, its cookie creation is still in demand and won’t be leaving any time soon.
Funnel Cake – Pennsylvania
The Funnel Cake is a staple when it comes to most American fairs and carnivals, but it is especially popular in the state of Pennsylvania. This sweet, crispy treat is made by mixing eggs, sugar, milk, and baking soda, then pouring it through a funnel into a vat of sizzling hot oil. This method of preparation creates what looks like pastry noodles all in a pile that sticks together, and is how the famous dessert got its name. More often than not, Funnel Cake is dusted with powdered sugar, although there are other variations of toppings that folks seem to enjoy such as chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and fresh fruit.
Whoopie Pie – New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania
Although these are not technically pies, they are delicious little hand-held desserts consisting of two cake-like cookies that can be chocolate or any other flavor you like, then fluffy vanilla or cream cheese icing is sandwiched between them. The year of origin of this dessert has been narrowed down to the 1920’s, and according to the New England Historical Society, the states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Pennsylvania all claim it to be their original idea.
Boston Cream Pie – Massachusetts
Of course, we can’t forget to mention Boston Cream Pie when it comes to popular Northeastern desserts! This dessert was invented by a chef at Boston’s Parker House Hotel at a time when the terms “pie” and “cake” could be used interchangeably, so even though Boston Cream Pie more resembles a cake, it was called a pie and has remained the same ever since. A Boston Cream Pie consists of two layers of yellow cake, which are separated by a thick layer of yellow custard, then the whole thing is covered in a rich chocolate glaze. Massachusetts ended up naming the Boston Cream Pie their state dessert due to its immense popularity.
Ice Cream Float – Pennsylvania
This is another dessert classic that you can thank the state of Pennsylvania for. The ice cream float is made of ice cream that has a soda poured over it, then the ice cream floats to the top. Invented by Robert Green, a soda shop operator in early 19th century Philadelphia who had run out of cream, did some quick thinking gave him the idea to use ice cream instead, which resulted in the ice cream float we know and love today.
Indian Pudding – New England Area
This pudding goes all the way back to the colonial days, where some legends say that Native Americans introduced it to the settlers; however, others claim that this is an adaptation of England’s Hasty Pudding. Wherever its true origins lie, it’s a dessert that has remained a New England staple ever since. Indian Pudding is cornmeal-based, sweetened with molasses, and seasoned with some cinnamon and sometimes ginger, and comes out resembling a heavy porridge.
New York Style Cheesecake – New York
Who could mention Northeastern desserts and not bring up New York Style Cheesecake? This cheesecake is different from other kinds of cheesecakes because it’s thick and heavy and offers a smooth, rich mouthfeel with a sweet and tangy flavor rather than the chewy, more citrusy tasting cheesecakes out there. New York Style Cheesecake was believed to have first been made in the 1950s by an NYC branch of chain restaurant Junior’s.
Maple Walnut Ice Cream – New England Area
Although there are many popular ice creams in New England, the ice cream that is said to be quintessential in New England is Maple Walnut ice cream. Its roots can be traced back to 1948 when famous New England restauranteur Howard Johnson had it advertised along with his other 27 ice cream flavors. New England takes both their maple syrup and ice cream very seriously, so it’s no wonder that this flavor became a hit.
Banana Split – Pennsylvania
Invented in the 1940s by pharmacy worker David Strickler in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the famous Banana Split was born from his desire to serve something different to a college student who had come into the pharmacy one day. Since then, it has remained a popular dessert not only in Pennsylvania, but all over the United States. A Banana Split is made with a lengthwise-cut banana, scoops of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream, and then it’s garnished with fruit, whipped cream, and of course cherries on top, all served in a long dish that is called a boat.
Rhubarb Pie – New England Area
According to some, Benjamin Franklin was the one who introduced the Rhubarb plant to the Americas, while others say that this credit goes to a farmer in New England. The Rhubarb plant is commonly known as the “pie plant,” and became a popular ingredient for the pies that the colonists would make. Rhubarb pie has staying power, as this sweet pie is still a favorite in New England today.
Ice Cream Sandwich – New York
Ice cream sandwiches are no doubt an extremely popular dessert item in the United States, and you have New York to thank for this invention! Ice cream sandwiches can be traced back to 1899 in New York City, where they were invented by a Bowery pushcart vendor that had taken two thin wafers and sandwiched some vanilla ice cream. From there, it became so popular that he only charged a penny per sandwich. The hype never truly went away because the ice cream sandwich is still a popular dessert today.
When it comes to desserts, it appears that the Northeastern region of the United States has some great taste! We know that there are many more popular desserts up North, but we hope that you’ve enjoyed our picks for the twelve most popular desserts in the Northeastern United States!