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Foods Found In Rhode Island

Updated on August 8, 2012

The Smallest State

Rhode Island is a quirky little state, and many people don’t even know we exist. Lumped in with the rest of New England, right next to Connecticut, it is in southern New England, and right on the Atlantic Ocean.

Only 48 miles long, 37 miles wide, and 1214 square miles, it is surely the smallest state in the union, and is one of the original 13 colonies, so we've been around awhile. But what really makes Rhode island stand out is its foods. There are many foods here that are not found anywhere else, and many people who have moved away tell stories of these strange foods, that people can't believe. These are a few of them.

Hot Weiners


Hot Wieners

Hot Wieners – Hot wieners (A.K.A. gaggers or New York System Weiner's) are a small thin hot dog, made from veal, and pork rather than beef which gives them a unique flavor. Then they are topped with a spicy meat sauce, chopped onions, yellow mustard, celery salt, and served on a steamed bun. This is referred to as "all the way". They are small so usually you order at least three. There are many restaurants called "hot wienie joints" that are a fast food atmosphere, where you get your food within five minutes. It is not uncommon to see the owners of these establishments making at least six of these at a time. They do this by putting six buns up their arm, adding the wieners and then all the toppings. There are many "hot weenie joints" in Rhode Island, with the most famous being, Olneyville New York System in Providence,Rhode Island. So if you're ever in Rhode Island and want to try one of these out, just ask any anyone and I'm sure they can tell you where to get one.

Coffee Milk


Coffee Milk

Coffee Milk – Coffee milk was invented in Rhode Island in the 1930s. It is made by a Rhode Island based company called Autocrat that is based in Lincoln,Rhode Island. It is made using coffee extract and corn syrup. It is molasses type syrup that you add to milk, much like chocolate syrup, thus making it coffee milk. It is usually sold in supermarkets right next to the chocolate syrup. Many people, before the internet, who have moved away frequently, ask their family members to send them coffee milk. Autocrat is still in existence to this day, and coffee syrup is still sold in supermarkets across Rhode Island.


Dels Lemonade

Del's Lemonade - Del's lemonade was founded in 1948 by Angelo DeLucia, who got the recipe from his father who brought it over from Italy. Del's lemonade is a slushy type of drink that is a lemon flavor with real lemons in it. Del's first shop opened in 1948 in Cranston Rhode Island this little stand sold only Del's lemonade, but soon started selling all over the state out of portable trucks or stands. This lemonade is great summertime tradition in the state of Rhode Island, with many shops and stands everywhere. Del's has since expanded and can be found in many states, but is still a Rhode Island tradition.


Snail Salad

Snail Salad – Ok I know what you're thinking: "Gross", Right? Well snail salad is a popular Rhode Island dish that’s made of snails or scungilli that come out of the ocean. It is sliced snails served with onions, celery or whatever vegetables you want, and it's mixed with some type of dressing. It is served in almost every Italian restaurant in Rhode Island. It is very good, and I would recommend giving it a try if you're ever in the Rhode Island area.


Pizza Strips

Pizza Strips – Pizza strips or party pizza as they are called are rectangular strips of pizza with a thick layer of red sauce that can be found in many popular bakeries in Rhode Island. It has no cheese on it (except maybe a little parmesan cheese), and is always served cold. Party pizzas come in a rectangular shaped box with three layers of pizza strips, and cut into small rectangular pieces, and are usually served at family functions or large gatherings. They are also sold as single strips in many bakeries and supermarkets as a quick snack.


Johnny Cakes

Johnny Cakes – Johnny cakes are made with cornmeal, salt, and boiling water, and are fried in a pan like pancakes. A company called Kenyons Grist Mill makes the cornmeal for these and has been around since the 1800s. There are also variations of these found elsewhere but are really popular in Rhode Island.



Zeppole – Zeppole's are an Italian light pastry filled with cream and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. They are made for St, Joseph's day in March, and are a tradition in many Italian households. They are also found in Italian bakeries. The Federal Hill area of Providence is where many believe you can find the best Zeppole's, but they can be also found in many other bakeries in the Rhode Island area.

Clam Cakes

Clam Cakes – Clam cakes are another popular summer food but can be bought all year round. Unlike some of the other foods above, they can also be found in Massachusetts, and Maine. They are made with a ball of dough with quahogs (which is a large clam) in them. Then they are dipped in a special batter and deep fried to perfection, and usually come out like a round ball shape (though not completely round). These are usually served at outdoor stands, and can be considered a fast food item. Many coastal towns have these stands. The clam cake was really made popular by Rocky Point an old amusement park that is now closed where people would line up just get these.


Doughboys – Doughboys are deep fried Dough that is covered with sugar or powdered sugar, and is also usually served at chowder and clam cake shacks across Rhode Island. They are flat in shape and are eaten with your hands. This is a delightfully sweet treat for young and old alike.


New England Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder – There are Three types of clam chowder that is served in Rhode Island, New England white, and clear clam chowder, and Manhatten clam chowder. New England White clam chowder is creamed based and has a thick texture to it. New England clear clam chowder is broth like and is not as thick as the white. Manhatten Clam chowder is also broth like but is served with tomatoes in it. All three have potatoes ,onions and of course clams. But both types of New England clam chowder are the most popular.


Stuffies - A stuffie is simply a stuffed quahog. A qhohog is a large hard shelled clam that is found among all New England waters. You make a stuffie by mixing chopped clams and a bread stuffing, scooping it into half of one of the quahog shells and baking it in the oven. There are many variations of this recipe that varies from resturant to resturant. Also many people eat these with red hot sauce. These are very popular, and are one of my favorites.

Rhode Island has the same problems as any other state, but Rhode Island is a fun place to live when it comes to food. Many of these foods encourage social activity, and family memories are made around many of these foods. So if you are from Rhode Island, you know about all these foods, but if you plan on visiting Rhode Island, or happen to visit in the near future make sure you try some these foods if you already haven't done so.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I want to get out to RI one of these days. They certainly have some different takes on food.

      Interesting read.

    • Audrey Baker profile image

      Audrey Baker 5 years ago from Arizona

      Del's Lemonade sounds amazing. I am going to have to track one down. It appears that almost all of my surrounding states have a Del's so hopefully they will venture over here soon.

    • markmic36 profile image

      Mick Smith 5 years ago from Warwick, RI

      Well there's always next time. Thanks for the comment.

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      I was only in Rhode Island once and didn't get to sample the food. Good Hub.

    • markmic36 profile image

      Mick Smith 5 years ago from Warwick, RI

      Its very good. When I first ate it I didnt even know what I was eating, until someone told me later on what it was, ever since then I liked it. Thanks for the comment.

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      Nice presentation of Rhode Island´s popular food. Strangely enough, although you mention the Snail Salad might sound gross, it is actually the one that appeals to me the most, certainly my choice if I ever go to Rhode Island.