The history of Minnesota's state muffin

Minnesota is one of three state's with a state muffin

Minnesota BEE-NICE gluten-free muffin
The BEE-NICE gluten-free blueberry muffin at the Minnesota Farmers union.
Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota is known for many things — over 10,000 lakes, the birth place of Prince, being “Minnesota nice” and living in a frozen tundra — but what about muffins? Doug Mack wrote about the history of state foods, including Minnesota's state muffin, for his newsletter Snack Stack. You can read it here.

He told MPR News that in 1988, a group of third-graders in Carleton, Minn., set out on a quest. They wanted to see how the legislative process works — by getting lawmakers to establish a state muffin. Massachusetts, had a state muffin — the corn muffin — and New York did, as well.

The students noticed that blueberries were common in northern Minnesota and an important crop in southern Minnesota, so they decided to petition for Minnesota to name the blueberry muffin the state muffin. Rep. Mary Murphy introduced the bill at their request and in 1988, it was signed into law.

But, this wasn’t without serious opposition.

Mack said there were some folks who thought it should be the bran muffin because of the history of wheat farming. Others worried that blueberry muffins would lead to a state full of people with blue-stained teeth.

Throughout the legislative session, the students were invited to the Capitol and even handed out blueberry muffins to lawmakers.

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In the end, blueberry muffins prevailed. But unlike the state flower, bird or even fair, the state muffin never really caught on.

“I think that people still enjoy eating blueberry muffins, but I don’t think it’s something that’s strongly associated with Minnesota,” Mack said.

But it’s not too late. If you’re looking for some inspiration, find the official recipe for our state muffin below. It’s even posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

Or listen to a recent Appetites interview with wild blueberry enthusiast Becky Cocanour. She joined Tom Crann with several ideas for using up this year’s bumper crop of blueberries.

Minnesota's great blueberry season

Blueberry Muffin Recipe
By Shari Baker, Gunflint Pines Resort

2 c. Flour
½ c. Sugar in the Raw (large-grain brown sugar)
1 T. Baking powder
½ t. Salt
1 T. Orange zest (grated peel)
1 c. Blueberries (fresh, dried, or frozen—Do not thaw or rehydrate)
1 c. White Chocolate Chips (*optional, but great!)
1-¼ c. Buttermilk
1 Egg
½ t. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix buttermilk, egg, and vanilla; set aside. Mix dry ingredients, orange zest, blueberries, and white chocolate chips. Make well in center, pour in liquid mixture and stir lightly just until mixed. Spoon into lined or greased muffin tins. Top with sugar in the raw, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Make’s a “Baker’s” dozen.