CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's representative treat -- the pepperoni roll -- won a national competition of state foods in an online contest.
The third annual CQ Roll Call Taste of America is a March Madness tournament-style food competition pitting state against state that is sponsored by CQ Roll Call, a media company that specializes in congressional news.
The Taste of America contest was launched in May and allowed participants to vote online for their state's signature food at www.cqrollcalltasteofamerica.com. The contest received more than 580,000 votes total.
"Food is as much a personal preference as it is cultural," according to the methodology page of the contest. "It's arguably overly simplistic to choose one food item to represent an entire state. We wanted to improve Taste of America in 2012 by selecting foods that had an origin, official designation, or significant production in each state. The idea was a success!"
The pepperoni roll won during the Elite Eight round -- the fourth and final week -- with more than 52,000 votes total. On behalf of West Virginia, a trophy will be presented to Senator Manchin and other members of the delegation at a "Taste of West Virginia" event later this month.
"I am thrilled to hear that our state's beloved and humble pepperoni roll has been recognized for its deliciousness and rich flavor," Manchin said in a release Friday.
"The pepperoni roll is such a unique part of the Mountain State's history and culture, originating from the Country Club Bakery near my hometown of Farmington for the coal miners. I am proud that our great state's pepperoni roll is now valued by Americans everywhere. I invite everyone to come to West Virginia to enjoy the full flavor of the pepperoni roll."
The pepperoni roll was up against 64 other foods -- a minimum of one entry per state with several additional entries for larger states. The brackets were sectioned off into regions.
The other finalists included Arizona: Chimichangas; Iowa: Bacon; Oregon: Pear Tart; South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits; Georgia: Peach Cobbler; Maryland: Crab Cakes; and Illinois: Italian Beef.
The pepperoni roll was announced as champion with the most votes at the CQ Roll Call Reception at Nationals Park during the 52nd Congressional Baseball game Thursday night.
"The Elite Eight dishes that made it to the finals clearly have a proud following, but the West Virginia Pepperoni Roll fans really went the extra mile, taking to social media in order to win the top prize," said Beth Bronder, senior vice president and publisher of CQ Roll Call.
"The Pepperoni Roll has a history that makes it unique to West Virginia in that it was a simple but hearty lunch choice for coal miners who worked long shifts each day. Congratulations to West Virginia, we hope more people will discover their fabulous pepperoni rolls!"
The National Beer Wholesalers Association, the National Restaurant Association, National Pork Producers Council, and the American Frozen Food Institute sponsor the contest.