The Most Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes by State

Although the plump turkey undoubtedly remains a Thanksgiving staple across the country, Google recently released a map showing the most commonly searched side dish in each state.

The information was gathered through an analysis of search terms entered into Google in each state between November 1 and November 8. While some of the results were predictable—"dressing" remains popular in the South—other findings, like Delaware and Hawaii's shared taste for sweet potatoes, were more surprising.

Google Trends Most Popular Side Dish
Uniquely searched Thanksgiving side dishes in each state, according to Google Trends. Google

According to the map, no single region of the U.S. was united in its favoritism for a particular dish—although the South came the closest. Out of the 11 states in the region, seven had dressing as their most-searched dish. Many states along the country's East Coast and a few in the West were similarly partial to "dressing."

Interestingly, dressing and stuffing are two names for what is essentially the same dish. The term "dressing" was popularized in the 19th century, when some people began to consider "stuffing" too sexually suggestive to cross their proper Victorian lips. "Dressing" remained the preferred term among Southerners, while "stuffing" eventually regained popularity among those living north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Today, one culinary school of thought has held that stuffing applies when the bread mix is cooked inside the turkey, since it stuffs the bird. But when that same concoction is cooked outside of the poultry, the dish is called dressing.

In a country as large as the U.S., such regional proclivities are not uncommon, but one consensus holds true: Americans love bread with their birds.

Most states in the Great Plains region between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains looked for some variety of "veggie"—be it green beans, salads or potatoes—as a side dish. This was perhaps indicative of the area's long-held reputation as America's "breadbasket," where the soil is fertile enough to supply agricultural products to much of the rest of the country.

"Veggies" were also the most-searched type of dish in the sometimes-sweltering southwestern states of New Mexico and Arizona, as well as Alaska, sunny Hawaii and most of the states in New England.

California and Texas, the nation's two most populous states (with about 40 million and 29 million inhabitants, respectively), were among the map's outliers. People in the Lone Star State searched most often for "fruit salad," while Californians, along with Michiganders and Marylanders, consistently looked for how best to prepare macaroni and cheese for their Thanksgiving feasts.

Whether or not your favorite dish corresponds with your state on Google's map, one thing is for sure: Americans have planned to eat well this Thanksgiving, whatever that means to them.