Why Florida's Choice Of State Dessert Has People In A Tizzy

The state of Florida may be best known for its citrus fruit, but when it comes to dessert, the Sunshine State wants you to know that a part of its heart belongs to strawberry shortcake. At least that's what it indicated in March, when Governor Ron de Santis signed SB 1006, which anoints strawberry shortcake "made with Florida strawberries and topped with whipped cream from Florida dairies" as the state's official dessert, per WUSF. Well, Florida's other state official dessert, really, as key lime pie was given the same title in 2006, per Change.org.

There was a fiscal reason for elevating the status of a dessert that Tori Avey indicates has decidedly British origins — and that had a lot to do with Florida's strawberry lobby — which some have called "Big Strawberry," per The Wall Street Journal. As State Rep. Jim Mooney, whose district includes the Florida Keys (hint: where key lime pie is said to hail from) put it, "I have a lot of farmers in my district, and we need that protection. They need help. A little recognition is not gonna hurt anybody, and I'm pretty sure that this bill is not going to change anybody's opinion of how delicious key lime pies are," per News Tribune

If anyone has any doubts over the power of the strawberry lobby, Florida Insider says Plant City's 10,000-acre strawberry fields yield 75% of America's winter strawberries.

Most Florida residents prefer to have key lime pie as their official dessert

Strawberry shortcake's legal status is new, but already, the cause of key lime pie has been taken up by a Key West group known as the Conch Republic Key Lime Pie Council (aka "Partners in lime", per WUSF). And they, per The Wall Street Journal, have a compelling argument in favor of the dessert made with lime juice, condensed milk, and egg yolks. Per Change.org: "Key lime pie is a native Floridian dessert that originated in the Florida Keys, and strawberry shortcake is a non-native dessert that originated in Europe."

The petition adds that "Key lime pie was [actually] designated the official state pie of Florida in 2006 and has served proudly as the de facto State Dessert for 16 years, and strawberry shortcake has never received a state designation." And more importantly: "Key lime pie reminds people of sun, sand, and tropical breezes, and strawberry shortcake reminds people of an early 1980s cartoon character owned by a Canadian corporation."

Key lime pie continues to receive overwhelming support from Florida residents. In a poll cited by The Wall Street Journal and conducted by the Miami Herald, 86% of respondents voted to keep key lime pie as Florida's (sole) signature dessert, while 5% chose strawberry shortcake. So while the law might say key lime pie is obligated to share the state dessert spotlight with strawberry shortcake, the pastry continues to win the hearts and minds of Florida voters.