Foods and/or resturants you didn't realize weren't universal

In the Wisconsin supper club thread, some native Wisconsinites mentioned that when they were growing up they didn’t realize supper clubs weren’t universal, i.e. that they weren’t just a midwestern (and mainly Wisconsin) thing. So I wondered if there were any regional foods or regional restaurants you grew up with that you just assumed existed everywhere.

I grew up in North Carolina, so for me it was Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Growing up in the state where they were founded, they were pretty much available in every grocery store, in addition to their standalone shops. It was very common for charities to sell boxes of Krispy Kremes as fundraisers. I don’t think it was until the early 2000s, when they tried to expand nationwide and the rest of the country was undergoing Krispy Kreme mania that I realized the rest of the country didn’t always have Krispy Kreme.

The other one was Calabash style seafood, particularly shrimp. Pretty much any seafood restaurant in the Carolinas inevitably serves Calabash style fried seafood, even the far inland parts of the state far from the actual town of Calabash. So I grew up thinking that was how fried shrimp was prepared everywhere. So after I moved to California I eventually learned to avoid ordering fried shrimp in seafood restaurants, because every time I did I was disappointed because I got served something that was nothing like the fried shrimp I grew up with.

Growing up in Central Illinois, pretty much any “American” restaurant had a Tenderloin Sandwich (although we just called it a tenderloin). It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I learned that they’re pretty much only in a narrow band from Iowa to Indiana.

Half smoke-sausages, they are half pork, half beef and a little spicy. I had no idea that they were local to DC area.

I thought everybody ate chopped liver. Also, I had no idea that it was, you know, liver.

I’ll see your Krispy Kreme and raise you Waffle House.

Also, there has been a time or two in a place or two when I asked for tea and received hot tea. I’m used to the default of iced tea.

I grew up in NJ. When I moved to Arkansas I ordered a steak sandwich somewhere. I did not expect breaded gristle on a bun.

Growing up in Minnesota, two things were constant: smorgasbords and the White Castle hamburger chain.

Nowadays, smorgasbords are called buffets, but few offer such Scandinavian delicacies as lutefisk.

I really, really miss White Castle hamburgers, and am happy I can now buy boxes full of them at supermarkets here in Toronto. If only I could buy the deep-fried fish and turkey sandwiches too… :frowning:

I’m from central Indiana, and we had those as school lunches about once a week. We also had really good fish sandwiches every Friday (thanks, Catholics!).

I’ll add another Indiana specialty- sugar cream pie. Ingredients- cream, sugar, milk, flour, vanilla, topped with nutmeg. Yum.

I never realized growing up that I lived in pretty much the only place in the world where you could eat a Michigan.

I also don’t think I realized until I was an adult that banana pudding was considered primarily a Southern dish.

Huh. I’m from Michigan and I had never heard of that! We do have the “coney dog”, which is a hot dog with ground meat sauce. And, I suppose, is named after Coney Island, which is far away from Michigan. So, turtles all the way down.

Probably starting a war here, but always concidered a hit dog to be bun, wiener, chili, ketchup and/or mustard, possibly onions, and nothing more. It wasn’t until fairly recently (possibly here) that I even imagined ketchup to not only not be a universal topping but that people even have strong opinions on the issue.

I thought Burger King having Tacos was a countrywide thing not a California thing presumably to compete with Jack in the Box tacos but then when I bring it up online people literally think I’m making shit up.

Italian Beef sandwiches - I didn’t realize they were a regional thing until I moved away from Chicago.

Giardiniera, too. My mom recently shipped some to my brother in Philadelphia.

The Burger Kings in my area (suburban Chicago) have had tacos for years, but Jack in the Box pulled out of here in the '70s or '80s (so, it’s not to compete against Jack, at least not here). So, maybe tacos are an optional thing for franchisees?

Chicken and waffles. I thought the combo must proliferate throughout the South and urban Black neighborhoods. Turns out it’s mostly just Southern California.

Cheese curds. Hey, what do you expect? I grew up in Wisconsin.

Isn’t that because just the smell violates health codes?

What? It is a southern dish.