Tough to Swallow: The Most Hated Food in Each State

Taste is subjective, but gross foods can sometimes be agreed upon by huge swaths of the population. Or, at least, by huge swaths of residents in certain states.

Case in point? The most hated food in each state. How does the food you don’t like stack up to other residents in the state you live in?

Fit for Grubs

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A 2022 report released by Zippia used Google Trends Data to analyze the least-searched items from a list of 40 of America’s most controversial foods. While these results don’t necessarily represent “hated” foods, they do help root out which grub Americans are definitely not looking for. 


Person holding beets.
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Dwight Schrute would be livid if he knew how much people in Alabama hate beets. In their opinion, not even the state’s signature white barbecue sauce can save the flavor of this earthy root vegetable. 


Bacon in a pan.
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Turkey bacon is not real bacon, at least according to Alaska natives who seem to hate the poultry-based faux pork product with a passion. 


Person holding beets.
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According to Zippia, beets are the most hated food in Arizona. This makes sense, considering the lack of beets in traditional Tex-Mex staples that prefer to feature punchier flavors like lime and jalapeño. 


Sardines swimming.
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Arkansas natives are among the least likely to order anchovy pizza, especially considering the statewide disdain for the tiny fish. 


Bowl of olives.
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It’s unlikely that dirty martinis top the list of trendy tipples at bars across California. The Golden State cites olives as its most hated food. 


Turkey bacon.
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Colorado locals may be adventurous when it comes to outdoor pursuits, but less so with food. Rugged Coloradans prefer pork to turkey, especially when it comes to bacon. Turkey bacon is Colorado’s most hated food.


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There is a right and a wrong way to order steak in Connecticut. According to locals, well-done steak is a waste of a perfectly good cut of beef. And don’t you dare reach for the ketchup. 


Woman with her hands up.
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Don’t even bother setting out olives at a Delaware dinner party. Locals likely won’t touch the state’s most hated food with a 10-foot pole. 


Basket of beets.
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Beets don’t belong on Florida beaches, where locals would rather scarf down seafood or classic key lime pie than a bowl of root vegetables. 


Olives in oil.
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Georgia’s urban foodies and rural farmers can agree on a few things, one of which is that olives are the state’s most hated food. 


Bowl of pickles.
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For all the fresh produce Hawaiians consume, pickles just don’t make the cut. Plain pickled cucumbers just don’t hold a candle to ripe tropical fruits like pineapple. 


Fried anchovies.
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Potatoes may be a popular side dish in Idaho, where locally caught fish like trout, bass, and salmon frequently grace restaurant menus, but anchovies are another story. The canned fish is the state’s most hated food. 


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Chicago-style hot dogs are known for being “dragged through the garden,” topped with relish, onion, and a whole sport pepper (among other accouterments), but olives are best kept away from this sacred recipe. 


Woman with her thumb down.
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Olives have no place in Indiana’s homestyle Midwest cooking. Locals cite olives as the Hoosier State’s most hated food. 


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Land-locked Iowa has no patience for slimy anchovies that are better used as bait than a pizza topping. 


Anchovies on ice.
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Meat-and-potatoes-loving Kansas residents don’t have time for fiddly anchovies. The Sunflower State claims anchovies as its most hated food. 


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In a state where Bourbon and sugary-sweet Derby Pie rank among the most popular foods, vegetables like eggplant don’t stand a chance. Kentucky’s race-loving residents would rather sip on mint juleps than try to choke down eggplant Parmesan. 


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Beets can’t compete with beignets in Louisiana. The Bayou State has no taste for the earthy root veggie. 


Pile of sushi.
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Fresh seafood may reign supreme in Maine, but you’re unlikely to find a local who loves sushi. Residents of the Pine Tree State prefer their shellfish boiled and bathed in butter. 


Hand filled with olives.
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Even a healthy dose of Old Bay seasoning can’t save Maryland’s most hated food. Olives don’t stand a chance against the state’s signature crab cakes. 


Steak on the grill.
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Those who try ordering a well-done steak in Massachusetts are likely to get the cold shoulder from locals, who know the best way to cook a cut of beef is medium rare. 


Couple plugging their nose.
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Don’t order a Detroit-style pizza with anchovies. The slippery canned fish is the most hated food in Michigan, according to Zippia. 


Pile of eggplants.
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Midwestern cuisine has no place for eggplant, especially in Minnesota, where locals claim the vegetable as the state’s most hated food. 


Man holding olives.
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Pickles are an acceptable barbecue accompaniment in Mississippi, but olives have no place on the table in the Magnolia State. 


Woman with her hand up.
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According to Zippia, Missouri locals have made their opinion clear: Anchovies have no place in the Ozarks. 


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Hay is for horses in Montana, and apparently so are carrots. The distinctively crisp, orange vegetable is the most hated food in the state. 


Grocery store aisle.
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Grocery stores in Nebraska shouldn’t bother stocking their shelves with anchovies. Picky locals won’t eat them, if Zippia’s data is any indication. 


Las Vegas skyline.
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With a slew of world-class restaurants lining the Vegas strip, Nevada locals have their pick of international plates. Their one request? Hold the eggplant. 

New Hampshire

Cooking bologna.
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With a bounty of fresh seafood on offer, it’s no wonder that New Hampshire locals shirk processed meat products. The Granite State’s most hated food is bologna. 

New Jersey 

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New Jersey residents would order anchovies on their pizza before dreaming of adding olives. Even dirty martinis cause picky locals to turn up their noses. 

New Mexico

Can of olives.
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Fresh chiles reign supreme in New Mexico, where locals have no time for pickled or jarred products like olives. When visiting, skip the olives and reach for the freshly made salsa instead. 

New York

Woman holding up her hands.
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New Yorkers are known to be opinionated about their food, but the one thing nearly all Empire State residents apparently agree on? Hold the olives. 

North Carolina

Anchovies in the water.
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Anchovies have no place on the plates of North Carolina residents, who prefer pork barbecue to petite canned fish. 

North Dakota

Different colored eggplant.
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German and North American culinary creations abound in North Dakota, neither of which contain the state’s most hated food: eggplant. 


Canned anchovies.
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Ohio locals have no tolerance for anchovies. The state’s most hated food couldn’t be more different than Cincinnati’s favorite Skyline Chili. 


Plate of anchovies.
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Oklahoma’s culinary tastes tend to skew towards classic meat-and-potato pairings, a far cry from delicate anchovies, the state’s most hated food.


Slices of bologna.
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Organic produce is king in Oregon, a practice that netted the state $386 million in 2021. It’s no surprise, then, that processed products like bologna don’t suit the local palate. 


Plate of sushi.
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From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania natives may have differing views on a wide range of topics, but one thing the majority can agree on? Sushi is the state’s most hated food.

Rhode Island

Plate of breakfast.
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If it isn’t pork, Rhode Islanders don’t want it…at least when it comes to turkey bacon. 

South Carolina

Green olives.
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Get olives anywhere near their shrimp and grits and see how quickly you earn a side-eye stare from South Carolina locals. 

South Dakota

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Similar to its northern neighbor, South Dakota’s culinary history has a bit of a German accent. While dishes like chislic and kuchen grace local menus, one item that is noticeably missing is the state’s most hated food: eggplant. 


Olives in a dish.
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Moonshine and Moon Pies may be equally popular treats in Tennessee, where olives are most certainly not welcome. 


Texas flag.
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Even visitors who flock to Texas’ annual Austin Food & Wine Festival can’t stomach the idea of anchovies, which is perhaps why they’re the Lone Star State’s most hated food. 


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After a day spent on the slopes, Utah residents are likely to scarf down almost anything. Anything except bologna, the state’s most hated food according to Zippia. 


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From Ben & Jerry’s to maple syrup, Vermont has had a long love affair with sweet treats. This may explain why extra-savory sushi is a no-go for the locals. 


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They say that Virginia is for lovers; lovers of everything except olives, the state’s most hated food, according to Zippia. 


Friends laughing.
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When you can get ultra-fresh salmon at a local fish shop, why would Washingtonians bother with processed products? Bologna takes the brunt of the frustration as the state’s most hated food. 

West Virginia

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Appalachia is not known for its sushi-loving population, especially in West Virginia, where locals have an outright hatred of the raw fish dish. 


Person dipping chip in cheese.
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Almost anything that can be dipped in cheese is fair game in Wisconsin. Everything except anchovies, the Badger State’s most hated food. 


Plate of bacon.
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Don’t even try convincing a Wyoming local that turkey bacon and pork bacon taste the same. The turkey substitute is the Cowboy State’s most hated food, according to Zippia. 

The Most Hated Food in the US

Bowl of olives.
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According to Zippia, olives are the most hated food in the US, with 13 different states naming them their least favorite food. On the flip side, 62% of Americans say they actually like olives, so they just seem to be particularly hated in some areas of the country. 

It’s Not What It Seems

Smelling coffee.
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As it turns out, it’s not the taste of certain foods people dislike. According to Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, “Our language is really limited when we say food tastes a certain way. It’s actually your sense of smell that allows you to distinguish between something like strawberry and cherry Jell-O.”

The Science of Taste

Man smiling holding a watermelon.
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The biology of taste is actually the same among all humans in that everything we consume can be broken down into four distinct qualities: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. From a survival perspective, we are hard-wired to like sweet (like fruit) and to dislike bitter since bitter foods can indicate poison. 

Taste vs Flavor

Winery in Tuscany.
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While taste is the same for all humans, flavor is more nuanced since it’s tied to our sense of smell. Flavor is something that we learn to like, such as the potent stench of aged cheese or a robust wine. 

Learning To Love Again

Woman holding a fork.
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Conditioning plays a big part in our food preferences, from bad experiences to cultural familiarity. This can work in reverse, too, meaning you can learn to like (or at least not hate) any food you choose. 

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Eating bugs might not fit your idea of a gourmet meal, but in many cultures, these critters are dietary staples. Considering their numerous health benefits and minimal environmental impact, perhaps it’s time for Americans to start considering incorporating insects into our diets.

15 “Yummy” Bugs That Some Cultures Eat Every Day

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Love it or hate it, Spam is a cultural staple. If you’re still hesitant about the so-called mystery meat, these facts might make you realize it’s not (quite) as bad as you think. 

24 Facts About Spam Most Americans Don’t Know

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