The Most Popular Junk Food In Every State, Says New Study


Snacking is a pastime Americans know quite well. After all, this is the birthplace of junk food legends like Lay’s Potato Chips and M&M’s with peanuts. It is also the land where snack foods just beat out other categories like cheese, bread, and baked goods, to become the highest-selling type of specialty food.

But what is our country’s absolute favorite guilty pleasure snack? The analysts at were wondering the same thing, which is why they conducted a bit of research to uncover the answer. And although our nation is actually quite divided—each state with its own unique list of snack preferences—there’s one junk food that stood out among the rest as the top pick, coming in as the undisputed winner in seven states and as a close runner up across 12 others.

We’ll give you one hint: first, they’re sour, then they’re sweet. That’s right. America’s current favorite junk food is Sour Patch Kids.

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In order to reach this conclusion, observed and measured Google Trends data and search volumes by state for 32 of the most popular and prevalent snack foods in the country. Items such as soda, gum, and fast food were all purposely left out to create a more refined snack food category. This data was tracked for one year, finally concluding on July 16—strategically just days ahead of this year’s National Junk Food Day.

The study also revealed that Americans across the board have been giving into their sweet tooth this past year—as hinted at by the nation’s most-loved goody. In fact, over 70% of states had a candy, cookie, or chocolate treat listed as their top snack over a more savory choice. Specifically, consumers were enjoying the taste of the rainbow with Skittles, indulging in unexplainably juicy Starburst, and breaking off a piece of those Kit Kat bars all year long.

This sweet statistic would additionally be even higher, at over 80%, if you counted Animal Crackers as a confection. The popular kid snack was a top pick in the Northeastern states of Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as in Missouri and West Virginia.

On the other hand, a few big-name treats were largely absent from the list of state favorites. Oreos, M&M’s, and Reese’s each only claimed the top spot in one state—Oreos in Iowa, M&M’s in Wisconsin, and Reese’s in Ohio.

Scroll on for the full state-by-state breakdown of favorite junk foods to see what other brands made the cut, and check to see if you agree with your own state’s winner.

  • Alabama – Butterfinger
  • Alaska – Fruit Roll Up
  • Arizona – Sour Patch Kids
  • Arkansas – Doritos
  • California – Sour Patch Kids
  • Colorado – Gummy Bears
  • Connecticut – Granola Bar
  • Delaware – Sour Patch Kids
  • District of Columbia – Starburst
  • Florida – Nerds
  • Georgia – Milk Duds
  • Hawaii – Gummy Bears
  • Idaho – Skittles
  • Illinois – Pringles
  • Indiana – Pringles
  • Iowa – Oreos
  • Kansas – Cheez-It
  • Kentucky – Butterfinger
  • Louisiana – Fruit Roll Up
  • Maine – Animal Crackers
  • Maryland – Sour Patch Kids
  • Massachusetts – Sour Patch Kids
  • Michigan – Sour Patch Kids
  • Minnesota – Starburst
  • Mississippi – Ruffles
  • Missouri – Animal Crackers
  • Montana – Pringles
  • Nebraska – Skittles
  • Nevada – Kit Kat
  • New Hampshire – Milky Way
  • New Jersey – Chips Ahoy!
  • New Mexico – Beef Jerky
  • New York – Kit Kat
  • North Carolina – Sour Patch Kids
  • North Dakota – Twizzlers
  • Ohio – Reese’s
  • Oklahoma – Cheez-It
  • Oregon – Kit Kat
  • Pennsylvania – Swedish Fish
  • Rhode Island – Animal Crackers
  • South Carolina – Nerds
  • South Dakota – Baby Ruth
  • Tennessee – Butterfinger
  • Texas – Funyuns
  • Utah – Pringles
  • Vermont – Animal Crackers
  • Virginia – Nerds
  • Washington – Kit Kat
  • West Virginia – Animal Crackers
  • Wisconsin – M&Ms
  • Wyoming – Twinkie

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