Florida is a prism of tastes and sights! The state embodies an eclectic array of worldly cuisines, from Latin American to European, from African to the Caribbean; food is a cultural and historical celebration in the Sunshine State and the richness of its culinary art is both iconic and monumental. Thousands travel to Florida annually for a flavorful experience that is incomparable to none – everything from Cuban sandwiches to fried snapper is exquisitely delicious. But some foods are not only native to the Sunshine State, but they’re imperative to the local culture. Let’s explore these incredible foods and their great impact on the world!
1. Florida Orange Juice
Crafted in the 1940s by C.D. Atkins, orange juice concentrate was originally designed for troops during World War II. During the tumultuous period, the U.S. government tasked Atkins with improving processed concentrate – and optimizing the usage of Florida’s orange crops – so orange juice could be shipped out to the troops. The result was the timeless recipe that gives us the famed Florida orange juice that we drink to this day.
2. Key Lime Pie
The official dessert of Key West, Key Lime Pie has both an extensive and controversial origin story. In recent years, a heated debate has brewed between Floridians and New Yorkers, as many publications have entertained the idea that Key Lime Pie was invented in New York. However, many Floridians argue that Aunt Sally, a cook, who worked for Florida native and millionaire William Curry, was the one true creator of the citrusy dessert. Other Southerners believe Aunt Sally merely perfected the recipe, one that was already being used by local fishers. While we may not know the true story of the Key Lime Pie, this sweet-tart has become emblematic of not just Key West, but the entire state of Florida.
3. Apalachicola Oysters
First harvested from the Gulf of Mexico some 185 years ago, oysters were Apalachicola’s first seafood industry. The regional delicacy soon reached incredible popularity, as it began to be shipped out across the state and nationally. By 1896, Apalachicola was exporting 50,000 cans of oysters a day, led by the Ruge Brothers Canning Company and the Bay City Packing Company. After various setbacks from hurricanes to political issues to legal fights, the Apalachicola oyster continues to be a pivotal staple of Florida seafood culture.
4. Famous Amos Cookies
Similar to Key Lime Pie, Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies have an intricate and difficult backstory. Back in 1975, Tallahassee native Wally Amos, once a talent agent, became a baker. His invention, gourmet cookies, featured a chewy texture and a rich flavor that other packaged cookies lacked. His cookies skyrocketed and became such a demand that Amos was unable to keep up with the financial and logistical pressures. He ended up selling the business in 1985, but throughout the decades, the company was traded between many owners, until Keebler Foods bought it in 2000. Since then, Wally Amos is unable to use the trademark name of his sweet invention, but he still baking and selling out of his local business in Hawaii.
5. The Golden Crab
Crawling 2,000 feet under the sea off the Atlantic coast of Florida, the golden crab has historically been considered a living treasure. These crustaceans, often found 100 miles off the shore, inhabit strong, warm currents of the intercontinental Gulf stream. Only a select group of Florida fishermen have the right to harvest the golden crab in the entire state. It takes years of impressive skills, tenacity, and expertise to harvest these crabs from their difficult environments. And because of that, the golden crab is as delicious as it is difficult to obtain.
Gray Line Miami offers a wonderful collection of culinary tours in Miami! With the Culinary Walking Tour, explore the diverse cuisine and local culture of the Magic City, and learn of the history of your dishes from the chefs themselves. We also have the Little Havana Food Tour, where you’ll discover the lively, family-friendly restaurants that make Little Havana the country’s Cuban capital! Book your food adventures today!