Cheese straws from Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory
These crumbly cheddar-flavored cracker sticks are wildly popular throughout the state and are often served as hors d'oeuvres at weddings and showers. Though many Southern home cooks bake their own, we're partial to the extra-savory ones from the Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory. The company's lemon straws, tart shortbread cookies dusted with confectioners' sugar, and mudpuppies (diminutive cookies loaded with chocolate chips, oatmeal, and pecans) are also worth trying.
In-shell pecans from the Indianola Pecan House
Robust pecans grown in the Mississippi Delta are this 30-year-old, family-owned company's specialty. Added to pies and pralines or just eaten out of hand, these plump nuts are richer and meatier than other pecans. For a boozy take on the snack, check out the pecans coated with either Jack Daniel's or Southern Comfort.
Tamales are most often associated with Mexico, not Mississippi, but the state's Delta region lays claim to its own version—a mixture of chili powder and paprika-spiked cornmeal and shredded beef or pork wrapped and steamed in a corn husk. The Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail, a three-year-old Southern Foodways project, documents the food (likely brought to the state in the early 1900s by Mexican cotton laborers) through a lively blog, oral histories, and maps detailing the whereabouts of the unassuming trucks and stands that sell it.