Named by the first European settlers responsible for colonizing what would be these soon-to-be states, New England is full of quirks and old-fashioned callbacks. While many of its traditions have waned over the years, there are still some - mainly in the form of food - that continue to live on through the lives of New Englanders today.
If you're one of the lucky ones to have lived or currently live in New England or, even more so, if you grew up in the Northeastern region, you're likely familiar with a few guilty pleasures. There are some things that have tried to exist in other parts of the world but simply aren't the same as if you had them in New England. If you've tried all of these, you're clearly a tried and true New Englander. If you haven't. well... You've got some work to do.
Tooth-Breaking Ribbon Candy
To be fair, ribbon candy is beloved by children all across New England. While it's not as popular a confectionary treat these days as traditional candy shops are not all that abundant, it still has a presence here. You can easily find ribbon candy during certain holidays, especially around Christmas, as it's commonly set out before parties and placed in the stockings of children. This candy comes in many flavors with the most popular being peppermint, orange, and cinnamon. There's no arguing that this candy is beautiful... but it's also like crunching down on a lollipop a bit prematurely.
Johnnycakes Over Pancakes
Johnnycakes are a very hot-button topic in New England, especially in Rhode Island. That's exactly why we're not going to debate the specifics, which often include the spelling of the dish, how these cornmeal pancakes are made, and with what type of cornmeal. What we will debate is whether or not they're actually better than regular pancakes... which is questionable. Around New England, you'll find plenty of Johnnycakes but you'll also find plenty of buttermilk pancakes, so the battle remains to be won.
Real, Authentic Maple Syrup
Don't even bother trying to find syrup for cheap in New England. Of course, there will be a few options in the grocery stores for the fake stuff. However, they will be surrounded by different grades of real maple syrup, as though poised specifically to mock and judge whoever attempts to get away with getting the corn syrup-based alternative. Real maple syrup is so abundant throughout New England thanks mostly to Vermont, which has sugar houses and taps set up throughout the state that have been honing their craft for over a century, for some families.
Coffee 'Regular' From Dunkin'
Dunkin' originated in Quincy, Massachusetts, so it's not surprising that the love for this coffee and donut chain runs deep. The original location is still open, serving customers just as they have for decades now. In New England, in Massachusetts, specifically, you can walk into any Dunkin' location and order a coffee 'regular' which means a regular coffee with milk and sugar.
Shaw's And Market Basket
Even the grocery stores around New England are so New England in brand and style, and two of the best examples of this are Shaw's and Market Basket. Both of these grocery stores offer local foods and produce, along with New England-only products. The first Shaw's was opened in Maine while Market Basket is originally native to Massachusetts, and they've remained in the New England region ever since.
Sweet And Nutty Fluffernutter Sandwiches
It may not be the style of some to combine marshmallow in liquid form (fluff) with peanut butter, but it is classically New England in style. Rather than smearing jelly on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you'll get what's called a fluffernutter. This is a cutesy name for peanut butter and fluff sandwich, which is one of the stickiest sandwiches you'll ever eat. For those with a sweet tooth and a serious love for nut butter, it's also one of the most delicious sandwiches you'll ever eat.
Whole Belly Clams
Seafood is a huge part of New England food culture, in general, and it goes without saying which is why things such as lobster rolls and clam chowder were left off the list. It is worth saying, though, that when it comes to fried clams, most New Englanders will prefer to take on the entire clam - called the belly - rather than eating fried strips. Of course, this poses the risk of a grain of sand or two in the clam itself but in New England, it's all or nothin'. These are almost always served with a side of homemade tartar sauce, as it's been done for decades.