Before this year’s election, Vermont wasn’t on many people’s radars. This tiny state is home to the country’s smallest state capital ― Montpelier has a population of fewer than 8,000 residents ― and it is only 80 miles wide and 160 miles long. But thanks to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, this state is on our minds right now.
And now that it is in the national spotlight, it’s time to talk about what really makes Vermont so great. Sure, the foliage is breathtaking, the green mountains are lovely, and the covered bridges delightfully quaint. But in our minds Vermont has always been one of this nation’s biggest treasures thanks to its food. It’s basically heaven on earth to any gastronome, and we’re going to tell you why.
1. Maple syrup is their religion.
Vermont is responsible for the majority of maple syrup production in the entire United States. And it produces about 40 percent of all the syrup the U.S. consumes (Canada helps with the rest). Needless to say, there’s a lot of syrup to be enjoyed in this state.
2. Vermont is responsible for the maple creemee. For those of you who don’t know, the creemee is maple syrup soft serve. And we are forever indebted to Vermont for this gift. This frozen treat is so good that Vermont has made a map dedicated to where you can find the best cones.
3. Let’s not forget maple candy. This stuff melts in your mouth in a way M&Ms wish they could. It’s only slightly better than Vermont’s homemade “snow cones,” which are made by pouring maple syrup directly into fresh fallen snow and eating it. It is dreamy.
4. Three words: Ben & Jerry’s. Ben and Jerry might have been born in New York, but they chose Vermont for their ice cream-making location. (The great dairy cows might have had something to do with it.) And while this beloved ice cream is recognized nationally, it will always owe its start to the tiny state of Vermont.
5. Farm-to-table is not just a food trend, it’s a way of life. Even though the growing season is short, the state is home to nearly 7,000 farms (including the state’s renowned dairy farms, naturally) and hosts over 50 farmer’s markets.
6. Vermont’s dairy is unparalleled. The state has one dairy cow for every 3.8 people; that’s the highest ratio of dairy cow to person in the country. It’s no wonder Ben and Jerry settled there.
8. Restaurants in Vermont aren’t allowed to serve margarine without a warning. That’s how committed they are to their dairy ― and their residents.
9. Everyone thinks of Belgium when it comes to great chocolate, but Vermont makes some that’s worth writing home about. Again, thanks to all those dairy cows. Lake Champlain and Birnn chocolates are just a couple of the local favorites.
Bonus: They’ve given us King Arthur Flour, a nationally-available brand of affordable high-quality flour. And for that, we are so grateful.