Like many people in our state, I (wrongly) kind of figured that Illinois' contributions to the culinary world were pretty much limited to deep dish pizza and horseshoe sandwiches.

And, despite traveling extensively throughout Illinois, I've never even had a horseshoe sandwich.

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It Turns Out That Illinoisans Cannot Live On Deep Dish Pizza And Horseshoe Sandwiches Alone

I'd be willing to give it a try, but my wife stubbornly insists that our meals at home have some modicum of nutritional value. She seems to think that there are more food groups than just sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.

But, that's my cross to bear.

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The List Of Foods Invented In Illinois Is A Lot Longer Than I Thought

I have to give credit for opening my eyes to alert-listener Mike, who sent me a piece from MentalFloss that highlights Illinois' contributions to America's (and the global) menu. Let's take a look at some:

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Italian Beef- Credit for Italian beef is given to...wait for it...Italian immigrants in Chicago who found a way to make unflavorful meat taste better and last longer. There are more Italian beef joints in Chicago than anywhere in the world.

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Twinkies- James Dewar, who was a baker in Schiller Park, invented the spongy yellow cake snack in 1930. How'd he come up with the name? He came across a billboard for Twinkle Toe Shoes, and the name stuck.

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Cracker Jack- One of the many new foods introduced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Cracker Jack is the brainchild of German immigrant Frederick William Rueckheim and his brother, who "debuted their candied popcorn mixed with peanuts at the exposition, and three years later the first batches of molasses-covered popcorn were sold to the public."

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Brownies- "Bertha Palmer's husband owned the Palmer House hotel (it’s still open today), and she wanted to bake something for the World’s Fair that wasn’t a cake but had the texture of one and was also small enough to place inside a boxed lunch."

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Frozen desserts- Like the old jingle says, "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." Charles Lubin, of Downers Grove, wanted to figure out how to distribute baked goods outside the city of Chicago without the food going bad. So, he came up with a way to freeze pound cakes, and named his company after his daughter.

Some of the other foods invented in Illinois include Vienna Beef, the pepper and egg sandwich, pizza puffs, the jibarito sandwich, flaming saganaki, and Chicken Vesuvio.

Click here for the full list from

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