Food News
Should Connecticut Make Pizza Its Official State Food?
A legislative proposal in The Constitution State has started a food fight.
02-04-2021
Mari Levine

If there’s one thing that elicits strong emotions from food lovers, it’s when one state stakes claim to a certain food. And anytime it involves pizza, it's bound to instigate a food fight.

Two New Haven, Connecticut legislators have proposed naming pizza as the official food of the Nutmeg State (ironically, not nutmeg). The legislation would amend chapter 33 of the Connecticut General Statutes to "recognize the contribution of pizza to the state’s cuisine and economy."

As you might expect, New Jersey was quick to weigh in, with the official @NJGov Twitter account tweeting a curt “no.” New York also pushed back, with the Lieutenant Governor—and former pizza cook—Kathy Hochul tweeting: " . . . I can confidently declare that New York IS the pizza capital of the world."

There’s no denying that Connecticut—or more specifically, New Haven—has great pizza. But is it worthy of the title of state food? We asked some ATK staffers with Connecticut ties to weigh in.

In Favor

"If my Connecticut in-laws are any indication of how popular pizza is in Connecticut, then it should absolutely be the state food. At the very least, they eat it once a week—and a lot of it! They are big fans of Modern Pizza, and my brother-in-law asked my father-in-law for permission to marry my sister-in-law (that's a lot of in-laws!) in the bathroom of Sally's Pizza. (Pepe's clam and bacon is my personal fave.)"  —Becky Hays, America’s Test Kitchen cast member and Cook’s Illustrated managing editor

"I lived in Fairfield County for four years back when I was in college. I think it should be the state food because out of all the things I ate when I lived there, the pizza was the best, and the locals were passionate about it. It was so good my friends and I would often make the 30-minute drive to New Haven just to get a slice from Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern." Danielle Lapierre, Digital Content Producer

"Pizza might just be the best dish on the planet and it’s consistently the best in New Haven. I lived in Connecticut off and on throughout the '80s and '90s and many of my formative food experiences involved pizza. When my wife was pregnant with our oldest, a trip to the doctor was always followed by a clam pie at Pepe’s." —Jack Bishop, America’s Test Kitchen cast member and Chief Creative Officer

"I was born and raised in Fairfield County, Conn., and we took a lot of trips to New Haven for Pepe's and Sally’s. I do think New Haven-style pizza is the best, bar none. It's a very specific experience to get a weirdly long, rectangular slice of pizza. And I don’t really think there’s a distinctive state cuisine outside of New Haven pizza, so I support it!" Matt Wittman, Marketing Operations Manager

"I grew up a half-hour outside of New Haven. Over the years my family would often gather at Modern or Pepe’s for celebrations or just a casual dinner out. (We’re all very divided on which one we prefer.) And sometimes we’ll even throw the mashed potato pizza at Bar into the mix. I can think of so many times we’ve all gathered around those thin-crust pies with dripping, hot cheese, often burning the roofs of our mouths in our haste to dig in, so I am 100% behind making it the official state food." —Megan Ginsberg, Deputy Editor

Clam pizza

Opposed

"I think it’s time for the rest of the state to get behind the steamed cheeseburger, a savory, gooey treat loved by folks in central Conn. Why get into a fight with other states over pizza when it’s got its very own burger?" —Lan Lam, America’s Test Kitchen cast member and Cook’s Illustrated Senior Editor

"Personally, I have never understood the obsession with Connecticut pizza. There are some great pizzerias, but I feel like that applies to most places around the country. The state food should be something unique to the state, not something you can essentially get anywhere. It may be because I’m from close to the coast but to me, Connecticut food is more about small clam shacks. Seaswirl for clam strips in Mystic, Costello’s for a lobster roll in Noank or Captain Scotts in New London are all more representative of Connecticut’s cuisine." —Maggie Edgar, Art Director

"I grew up in CT, and I also went to college there. I would say deeming it as the official state food may be a little strong of a title, but I definitely think it could be seen as the state's proudest culinary accomplishment. Frank Pepe's paved the way for pizza in New Haven, and now the whole city is pretty pizza-rich. There are also Frank Pepe's franchises all over now, so clearly the appeal of New Haven pizza has spread outside of the state, but I think you could also make a state food argument for some seafood dishes." —Avery Lowe, Senior Kitchen Assistant

Lead photo: sbossert / Getty Images

Where do you stand on the idea of Connecticut making pizza its official state food? Let us know in the comments.

And for more Connecticut favorites, check out these recipes:

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