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St Louis Food Traditions

Updated on June 30, 2011

St Louis

Regional Favorites

Every big city has its specialty foods and St Louis is no exception. I grew up in the St Louis area and have since lived in Kansas City and then Louisville. I can honestly say, its great to be home and have access to foods I grew up on readily available.

Since hosting the World's Fair in 1904, St Louis has been credited with creating many foods. It is said that the World's Fair introduced hot dog buns, waffle cones, cotton candy, iced tea and hamburgers to its visitors. These are all common foods loved by all, not just St Louisans.

I want to discuss the foods that are most likely only available in the St. Louis Metro Area and some are a Regional Company's specialty.

Toasted Ravioli

 I think toasted ravioli is the most well known of St Louis's regional favorites.  It is becoming available in markets on a national level.  For those of you who don't know what toasted ravioli is, I'll give a brief explanation.

Toasted Ravioli is said to have been created in the Italian district of St Louis called "The HIll."  They are regular meat filled pasta but then dipped in egg and coated with bread crumbs.  They are served deep fried for a crispy outside and with marinara sauce for dipping.  A good sprinkling of parmesan cheese is bonus.

BBQ Pork Steaks

 BBQ Pork Steaks are the grilled meat of choice in St. Louis.  During the summer months, you can usually find a great special at the super market selling these delicious cuts of meat for under $1.50 a pound.  That's when you stock up the freezer to prepare for the cravings throughout the year.

Pork Steaks, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, or for a real treat, marinated in soy sauce, cook quickly on the grill.  A good coating of BBQ sauce tops off their piggy goodness, but if in St Louis, it can only be one sauce, Maul's BBQ sauce.  This sauce is bit on the thinner side and when used for grilling it just clings to the meat and cooks into a sticky sweet coating on your pork steak.

St Louis Style Pizza

Not only is St Louis style pizza a super thin cracker like crust or cut into squares, to be a true St Louis pizza, it must have Provel cheese. What is Provel? Its not just an abbreviated version of provolone, its actually a shelf stable white cheese which is a mix of cheddar, Swiss, provolone and velveeta. It melts to a crazy creamy texture that St Louisans just can't get enough of. Imo's pizza is the local chain that makes it the best. This restaurant is also well known for their amazing italian dressing that is served on their house or chef salads also topped with provel.

I can attest, that when craving this pizza or their salad dressing, there are no substitutes other than a trip home.

Ski Soda

Ski is a camping essential. It is a citrus soda similar to Mountain Dew, but is made with orange and lemon juice concentrate for a great fresh flavor. Ski was created in the 1950's and has a bottling plant east of St Louis. While doing my research for this article, I found that Ski is distributed in many areas east of the Mississippi, but I haven't seen it out of the St Louis metro area.

The best way to enjoy Ski is in the 20 ounce bottles.  If your really lucky, it will have the pulp from the orange and lemon juice in the bottom.

This Hub was nominated to be a HubNugget Wanna Be, Thanks for voting!!
This Hub was nominated to be a HubNugget Wanna Be, Thanks for voting!!


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was born and raised in the STL Area.

      Provel Cheese is something you either love or hate.

      Moving to KC you would think you were moving to another universe. only 4 hours away and in the same state is completely different. Imos opened about 4 restaurants here, most people I talked into trying it DID not like it.

      I guess it is a required taste, no one here knows how to make or eat real italian food, also...they say POP and not Soda, and they put hwy at the end like 40 hwy, intead of hwy 40... backwards... No Jack in the Box Tacos, NO White Castle, I think I went died and went to Food hell.

      I don't like most of the BBQ Places stink..EXCEPT ONE and that is SMOKEHOUSE BBQ, They have the Best and the BEST BAKED BEANS Too.. This is where the Locals eat in KC for REALLY GOOD BBQ, And here is a Kicker, when I 1st moved here in 1993 NO ONE CARRIED PORK the Grocery Stores... They do at our Local Store, because I COMPLAINED!

    • Secret77 profile image


      9 years ago from Southern Illinois

      As a temporary resident of this area I enjoyed this hub. I have lived up and down each coast my entire life except for two years in Milwaukee before the two years I've been down here in SoIl. Of all the places I've lived, this area seems to have the most unique regional foods that you dont see in other places. I have grown quite fond of toasted rav's and I love throwing some pork steaks on the grill. Im afraid I dont share the love for St. Louis style pizza. In fact, my feelings for pizza such as Imo's is in the far negative range. I would rather eat the tray it's served on than the pizza. LOL I do enjoy a salad from Imo's however. :) Provel cheese should never, ever, ever be melted. It's such a strange cheese. I love the stuff in its cold unmelted state atop my salad but once it's melted, it's quite foul. Obviously, most people from this area will vehemently disagree with me on this and thats ok. One thing I really like that I've only had here is gooey butter. YUM!!!!

      As a side note, for those of you who like me are transplants to this area and dont appreciate the St. Louis style pizza, I stongly recommend Ferraro's Boardwalk Jersey Style pizza. There's a restaurant in Soulard and one in South County. I love Jersey style pizza and this will not dissapoint. And, you can get it by the slice!!

    • kea profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub! I was wondering what the craze was about Ski!

    • Late2class profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Troy, IL

      Cant say I've ever had pizza at the zoo, will have to check that out.

    • rmcrayne profile image


      10 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      I was stationed at Scott twice. Second time was Jun 02-Aug 05. I lived on Hummingbird, which was very close to an Imos. My brother and I still talk about that pizza. Yum! Does the St. Louis Zoo still have great ultra thin crust pizza?

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      You made it to top 5!! Congrats! Have you read the newsletter??? Hope you did! :)

    • DoodleLyn profile image


      10 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

      Wonderful hub. I was in St. Louis when I chaperoned my daughter's youth group, about ten years ago. Awesome city. I sure do wish I'd run into some of those toasted ravioli when I was there. Probably good thing I didn't. Yuuuummmm!! Congratulations on being nominated.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      10 years ago

      Congratulations on a a great hub, and on your nomination!

    • Late2class profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Troy, IL

      Wow, I'm so excited to be a hubnugget!!!! Thanks so much

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Late2class: I may have to announce that I'm hungry after my brisk walk and the food here is making me hungry. Ravioli? Pork Steals? Pizza? Gosh... now I'm wishing I can take my hubmobile and take me to St. Louis right now. Hahaha

      Well, before I run to get foo, let me just give you the good news (which you will also receive in the email via hubpages) that this hub is a Hubnugget Wannabe! Yes, yes, yes! Check this link to see what this is all about:

      Don't miss out the Hubnugget Fun! You can vote for your hub and invite your friends (even non hubbers) to vote too. okay? Have fun...

      Now about the food....

    • RedElf profile image


      10 years ago from Canada

      I had no idea about provel, but it sounds amazing. Thanks so much for sharing this - looking forward to more.


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