Slate undertook a project to identify what should be the official state dessert of the 50 states. Somehow or another, it came up with red velvet cake for Arkansas.
Here’s how Slate stretched it:
Red velvet cake is having a moment, according to the New York Times, which insists that the scarlet-hued cake was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, “though some Southern cake historians believe that story is more legend than fact.” Whatever its true history, red velvet cake is firmly situated in the public imagination as a creation of the South: Who can forget the armadillo-shaped groom’s cake in Steel Magnolias? Granted, Steel Magnolias is technically set in Louisiana, but that’s not far from Arkansas (which doesn’t have any state dessert specialties to speak of). Plus, red velvet cake is colored cardinal and white—the official colors of the University of Arkansas.
Kat Robinson, our veteran food correspondent, takes extensive exception at her website, Tie Dye Travels. Her list includes pies, cinnamon rolls, fried pies, Yarnell’s ice cream.
Isn’t the official state sweet a honey bun and a Big Gulp, grab and go from a C-store for enjoyment in a pickup for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert?
More seriously, I think fried pie would be my pick, though it occurs to me that Arkansas, with no shortage of sweet tooths around does seem deficient in a singularly identifiable favorite.
PS — How could I have forgotten strawberry shortcake, with Arkansas strawberries? Also, a reader asks, have I no hometown pride in Little Debbie snackcakes?
PPS — And, yes, the blackberry cobbler with those giant purple Arkansas berries is hard to beat.
PPPS — How’s this for karma? It was photographer Brian Chilson’s 50th birthday today. The Times got him a cake. Red velvet.