11 Odd Midwestern Foods That Might Make You Reevaluate Your Palette

(Last Updated On: March 31, 2022)

If you’re from the Midwestern United States, you probably just clicked on this post because you wanted to see if your favorite Midwestern food would make the cut (spoiler alert, there are a lot and this list is comparatively short). For those who are reading from the location of “anywhere else,” you’re probably going to be really, really confused by what’s going on over there. So here are some odd Midwestern foods that will probably have you looking at your food palette again.

If you don’t care about weird foods at all, we promise there are some weird bonus trivia facts in here for you. Just like some of the salads the Midwest has kicking around, this post has a little bit of everything. 

1. Ambrosia 

You knew this one was going to be here, because it’s probably the first thing you thought of when you heard we were going to be talking about weird Midwestern foods. 

If you don’t know what ambrosia is, well it’s the food of the gods if you follow Greek myth. It’s also canned pineapples, cherries, and marshmallows thrown together with cream. 

Normally you’ll see ambrosia listed as a “salad,” which is a pretty creative way to say you’re getting your leafy greens in, especially considering the ingredients list didn’t include leaves.

But maybe we just need to expand our definition of what a salad is.

2. Covering your potato chips in chocolate

You can thank North Dakota for this. They’re called “chippers,” though their origin story is kind of up for debate since lots of people want to claim ownership of the idea.

3. Jello Coleslaw

Just kind of… looking at coleslaw jammed into some lime jello probably makes you feel all sorts of strange things if you’re not already used to it. But there’s probably something to it, right? 


4. Dishwasher Salmon

This is as literal as it gets. Dishwasher salmon is salmon prepared using the heat from your dishwasher. Wrap it all up in aluminum foil and have the dishwasher go through the wash and dry cycle–it should cook, steam, and ripen the fish. 

It’s just efficient–you get to clean your dishes while you’re at it. If you don’t like doing the dishes, maybe it’ll be better when you can also reward yourself with some fish.

5. A Salad of Snickers

Ingredients include Snickers (duh), whipped cream, apples, and pudding. Thanks Iowa.

If you look at the dictionary definition of “salad,” the first two listed ones do say vegetables are a prerequisite. But definitions also include the following: “a usually incongruous mixture.” 

So just like ambrosia, technically a salad.

6. Watergate Salad

More salads! Sometimes Watergate salad is literally just straight up called “Green Goop,” which is not the most flattering name. 

Anyway the recipe for Watergate salad was first published by General Foods (they’re owned by Kraft Heinz now, because corporate consolidation is a thing). It’s mostly pistachio pudding with some marshmallows, pineapples, and pecans thrown in. Also maybe some whipped cream. The dessert gained traction through the mid-1980s, but the name “Watergate salad” didn’t start kicking around until 1993.

Honestly, since “-gate” just means any kind of controversy, we’re surprised none of these salads have created a saladgate feud on Twitter or something. 

Probably because saladgate was taken by country music.

7. Cheeseburger Pie

For those who like burgers and pie, but don’t have room for an entrée and dessert as two separate dishes. 

Also, yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the ingredients of a cheeseburger baked into a pie. Also, there’s Bisquick in it. 

8. The Slinger

Honestly, this is only included because it is alternatively known as a “culinary car crash.”

You’ve got eggs, ground beef, potatoes, chili, and cheese. Honestly this sounds like what college students throw together when they have a mad hangover.

9. Butter Burgers

It’s a burger. But you add a bunch of butter to it.

Thank you, Wisconsin

10. Puppy Chow

On the bright side, it’s not literally dog food scraped out of a can. 

Though you might be a little whelmed to find that puppy chow is basically cereal with peanut butter and chocolate, with a healthy heaping of powdered sugar

11. Hotdish

If you’re not from the Midwest you might see this and think “this is just a casserole with lots of potatoes.” 

You wouldn’t be entirely wrong, so instead we’ll point out where it comes from. Hotdish exists because families had to figure out how to make a big meal that could feed that family and church congregations. Throwing potatoes, ground beef, frozen vegetables, and then baking them together fits that bill.

Speaking of the Midwest, see if you know who is there here.



About Kyler 705 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.