New Hampshire just came off another presidential primary season, when it gets its time in the spotlight. Otherwise, unless leaf-peeping and skiing come into question, we don’t pay much attention to this historic sliver of a state. But don’t worry; New Hampshire gets along just fine without outside accolades. It’s got the White Mountains, a wee bit of coastline, and a fierce commitment to supporting local food producers and small businesses (“live free or die,” as the state motto goes). Oh, and maple syrup, too. Click through the gallery to polish up on New Hampshire food trivia.
Sara Bir is Paste’s contributing food editor. She would not mind drinking a Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale right now. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Sausagetarian.
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State Capital: Concord
Statehood Date: June 21, 1788 (the 9th state)
State Beverage: Apple cider (how very John Irving)
State Freshwater Game Fish: Brook trout
State Animal: White tailed deer
State Fruit: Pumpkin
derrypubliclibrary CC BY
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Fiddlehead Ferns are a regional delicacy of spring. Well-heeled food markets may carry them seasonally, but the real point is the one-two punch of gathering them in the woods and then cooking them up. What better way to bid a New Hampshire winter adieu? Fiddleheads (which are not a species fern, but a generic name for the still-wound fronds of a young fern) can be found in just a fleeting window of time. Ostrich ferns are the most popular for harvesting as fiddleheads, but – as with any foraged food item – there are some safety caveats. Learn more about fiddleheads from this New Hampshire Public Radio piece.
Leslie Seaton CC BY
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Tupperware inventor Earl Tupper was born in Berlin, N.H. He went on to get a job with DuPont, where he used polyethylene slag, a bi-product of oil refining, to make molded, non-breakable items such as plates, cups, bowls … and airtight lids. In 1938, he founded the Tupperware Plastics Company. The perfect storm of home refrigeration and a post-war sales force of newly empowered housewives resulted in a revolution in how Americans view, and store, leftover food.
Katy Warner CC BY-SA
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A picnic basket lunch at the MacDowell Colony could very well be the most exclusive lunch date in New Hampshire. The Peterborough artists' colony was once the creative getaway of composer Edward MacDowell and pianist Marian MacDowell. After he husband's death, Marian set about making the property available to other artists. In operation over a hundred years, the MacDowell Colony is known for leaving its fellows lunch in picnic baskets so as not to disturb their creative reveries. Former MacDowell Fellows include some pretty big guns — Alice Walker, Thorton Wilder, James Baldwin, plus so many others — and while we're guessing they didn't apply mainly because of the lunch, it probably wasn't a deterrent, either.
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was founded by Robb Sagendorph in Dublin, N.H. in 1935, "for Yankee readers, by Yankee writers, and about Yankeedom." A lot of Yankee's most popular content over the years has been its food coverage, which has ranged from recipes to spotlights on notable New England chefs, food producers, and culinary traditions. Yankee has come to symbolize the New England lifestyle to those both in and outside of the region, and home cooks looking for recipes with an authentic New England sensibility have long trusted what emerges from the Yankee kitchens.
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Fried Chicken Tenders supposedly were created at the Puritan Backroom, a 99-year-old institution in Manchester, N.H. that began as an ice cream and candy shop. It's now a booming hotspot with locals and tourists alike. As for those chicken tenders, the story goes that the cooks would trim down large boneless chicken breasts for a menu item, leaving them with a lot of chicken breast strips they didn't want to go to waste. So they marinated, breaded, and fried them. Puritan Backroom serves them with honey mustard, ranch, and housemade duck sauce.
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Dairy products account for nearly a third of New Hampshire's total agricultural income. So why not hit up the Ice Cream Trail? Composed of family-owned dairies and ice cream parlors around the state, the Ice Cream Trail highlights New Hampshire's independent spirit and commitment to small food producers. Anyone who fills up their entire passport with entries for the 47 stops on the tour will get a free sweatshirt (though they might need to be an XXL by that point).
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"The Largest Ice House Under One Roof" was a complex of 13 buildings in Brookline, on the shores of Lake Potanipo. More than a hundred years ago, workers cut and stored over 150,000 tons of ice a season, which was shipped in refrigerated railroad cars to Massachusetts (in the summer, shipments ranged from between 20 to 40 cars of ice a day). This is all easy to take for granted now, but the importance of ice from northerly states in the days before mass commercial refrigeration was key to industrializing our nation's food distribution.
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Maple Syrup: Look, it's not like Vermont has exclusive rights to the stuff. Maple syrup runs deep in the blood of New Hampshire. In the spring, there's an Annual Tree Tapping Ceremony to mark the start of the sugaring season. Every year, maple sugaring families produce 150,000 gallons of maple syrup a year and contribute $150 million to the state's economy. Recently, the New Hampshire Lottery released maple sugar-scented scratch lottery tickets (last year, they had bacon-scented ones, too. How complementary!). According to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, abolitionist groups promoted maple syrup as an alternative to cane sugar, which was grown under brutal conditions on plantations using slave labor. Maple syrup appreciation is a bit more lighthearted these days. Even the governor attends the Annual Tree Tapping Ceremony.
New Hampshire Lottery Commission
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Open 62 years, Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith offers an expansive menu with dozens of items featuring turkey: turkey tempura, turkey livers, turkey soup, turkey Reubens … you get the idea. It's the kind of attraction with an attached gift shop that seems to have a gravitational pull upon the visitor. According to Hart's website, "On a busy day, we serve more than one ton of turkey, 40 gallons of gravy, 1,000 pounds of fresh potatoes, 4,000 dinner rolls, and more than 100 pies." The restaurant did indeed begin as a turkey farm, but the success of the foodservice arm – er, wing – was such that in 1965, they phased out raising their own birds to focus on serving them. Still in the Hart family, Hart's Turkey Farm restaurant also offers non-turkey items.
Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant/Facebook