One of our favorite things about traveling is finding each area's specialties and regional products. Here is what we found to be uniquely New England:
Corn Muffins-Corn muffins were EVERYWHERE! As common as blueberry or chocolate chip, they seemed to be a popular choice for breakfast or a snack. Here in the Midwest we generally eat corn muffins on the side of chili, not generally by themselves.
Greek pizza-It seemed every other pizza place offered Greek pizza, which is apparently most like what we call "pan pizza" baked in a pan to make a thicker, chewy crust.
Dunkin Donuts-They are EVERYWHERE!!! On every street corner, tucked into every little strip mall and highway rest stop. I do NOT like Dunkin Donuts but as you saw we did make a trip to the very first DD ever opened and I will admit the donut I had was maybe slightly better than the ones at the DD here in Champaign. But our DD are really terrible.
Polar sparkling water-Oh my! I fell in love with Polar Seltzer! Especially the orange vanilla flavor! And it's not available in this area at all. :(
Drake's Cakes (Ring Dings, Yodels, Funny Bones)-Owned by Hostess, the Drake's line is uniquely New England. But EW, maybe it's been a while since I've had a Hostess cake but these were so much worse than I remember packaged cakes being. Not something I'll pine for like my beloved Polar water.
Pink Beans-A canned product I've only seen out East, these are apparently also known as chili beans but canned chili beans here in IL have chili spices added. Pink beans tasted like pinto beans but were a little smaller.
Black and White/Half Moon cookies-More of a New York thing but these were pretty common in MA, they are a basic vanilla cookie with half chocolate and half vanilla frosting. I knew I wanted to try one out but I was kind of shocked at the variety of the cookies available. Some bakeries made them with a stiff shortbread-type cookie, some made a regular sugar cookie that held its shape and some made really cakey mounded cookies that were more like muffin tops. So I deduced that the name is really about the frosting, there is really not an accepted cookie type.
Odwalla bars-These are sold here in IL but I KEPT seeing these everywhere in MA, and Odwalla delivery trucks and Odwalla bilboards and advertising. Turns out, there is a distribution center in Woburn, MA.
Grapenut ice cream and pudding-This flavor was everywhere and it makes no sense. Grapenuts are not a regional product in New England. But they are HUGE ice cream fanatics so maybe it's an extension of that.
Boston Cream- They'll make Boston Cream anything. Donuts, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, snack cakes, you name it. I tried it, it was tasty but I wouldn't ask for it for my birthday or anything.
Fire signals-When we got home, this was one of the first things we looked up to find more info on. There are red boxes on poles EVERYWHERE, on every street, with a signal to pull if there is a fire. They usually have a red light on top too, which comes on when you pull the signal. New England is HEAVILY populated (or as the signs say, "Thickly Settled" so these were meant to keep fires from devastating whole neighborhoods before 911 and the like. The signals are now being removed in some places and in others, they just don't repair them when they break down.
Congregational Churches-By far the most prevalent denomination we saw during our trip, Congregational churches are nearly non-existent in IL. There seemed to be at least one in every town! Their rainbow flags everywhere were a refreshing site, a rare thing in the Midwest.