Word of Mouth

Sweet! Colorado needs an official state dessert, and here are some suggestions

In a highly charged and extremely political fight, residents of Maine find themselves trying to answer a life-or-death question: What should be the state's official dessert? The question threatens to divide families, as the whoopie pie camp battles the blueberry pie camp over what's more representative of the Pine Tree State.

The controversy in Vacationland (at least according to the Maine license plate) made us realize that Colorado doesn't have an official state dessert, either. Or even an official state food.

Since we're already doing our bit for the official Colorado Cocktail, naturally, we have a few suggestions for a state dessert:

Palisade peach pie A pie made from locally grown produce is an obvious candidate for a state sweet, especially given our state's obsession with locavorism. And out on the Western Slope, Colorado happens to grow some top-notch fruit, including Palisade peaches, which are basically summer's candy when they hit the market. Palisade peach pie, then, seems like a natural for this coveted designation. Another possibility: Rocky Ford cantaloupe, which are sweet enough in-season to replace just about any pastry on the planet as an end-of-dinner treat.

Casa Bonita sopaipillas Even with all the great restaurants in the Centennial State, our most famous eatery is still Casa Bonita, the Pepto Bismol-colored house of absurdity that turns out horrendous platters of "Mexican" cuisine followed by free sopaipillas. Those greasy pockets of fried dough are dusted with powdered sugar and filled with honey, and though they're likely the reason why everything in the joint is covered with a sticky film, they're also about the only gastronomically redeeming part of a meal there. Since "Casa Bonita" is probably one of the first five things to come up in a free-word association exercise with the word "Colorado," the restaurant's only edible food may well deserve to be our official state dessert.

Trail mix Maybe the reason Colorado doesn't have an official state dessert is that we're too busy being the healthiest state in the union to eat dessert. And that's because our population likes to engage in such "leisure" activities as climbing 14,000 foot mountains, skiing off cliffs and bike-riding distances that most people don't even drive in cars. So perhaps it's more appropriate to christen trail mix as our state dessert, since the M&M's -- mixed in with those wholesome roasted nuts for a quick energy boost -- are the only sugar a lot of us allow ourselves.

Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps We think Colorado's health focus is great and all, but we're usually as into apres ski as ski itself, since we get to order up a big alcoholic beverage to nurse the wounds we incur through athletic activity. And because the bars are always full in mountain towns in the winter, we know we're not alone. So in homage to Colorado's favorite winter sport -- and the people who enjoy it just for the post-tracks consumption pay-off -- we propose the sweetest of all the winter warmers as an official state treat. And speaking of alcohol, our fifth recommendation is...

Beer Because one thing we can all agree on is that we're a beer state. And after all this state dessert talk, we're about ready to crack one.

Have other dessert suggestions? Leave them below. Leave them in the comments.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk