When it comes to a father and son's art project that shaped foods into all 50 American states, it's a wrap.
Posting pun-tastic pictures of everything from "New Jerky" to "Piedaho" for the "Foodnited States of America" project, former art director Chris Durso worked with his 9-year-old son, Cameron, to form and photograph state-shaped foods and post them on social media.
Kicking off in the summer of 2014, the project went viral seven months ago when it reached its halfway point, and it culminated recently with the unveiling of "New Pork" and the sale of posters of all 50 "Foodnited States" arranged geographically as the contiguous 48, Alaska and Hawaii.
"The last few weeks were actually some of the most collaborative of the entire project," Chris told TODAY.com on Thursday. "We were at around state 40 and I honestly didn't have names for a few of the last states, including Alabama and Maryland. It was actually Cam who came up with 'Alahama' and 'Berryland,' and he was involved more in producing those. Those two states wound up being a few of most popular of the series."
The phenomenon's origins can be traced to Cameron, who pitched the project while strolling by a map of the country at an after-school program.
"While we were walking to go home, I passed it, and I told my dad, 'Why don't you do states, just made out of food?'" Cameron told TODAY.com in March. "That's how we got the idea."
When that school year came to a close, Chris posted the first in the series: an homage to the Durso family's home state of New Jerky, er, New Jersey.
Other mouth-watering states soon followed. In exceptional cases, like "Swissconsin" and "Kaleifornia," the pun ties into regional foods perfectly, but the quality of the pun always took priority over local cuisine.
Other than New Jersey/New Jerky, only two other "Foodnited States" had scheduled release points on social media.
In March, with the release of state No. 25, the project reached its halfway point with "Cransas" for Kansas — the contiguous 48's geographic center.
New York, a.k.a. "New Pork," was last, because it was the first pun Cameron suggested and is Chris' native state.
Along the way, the project went viral, as fans from across America — and around the world — pitched suggestions as they fell in love with Chris and Cameron's feast for the eyes.
"Actually making the states was the best way to keep Cameron interested and involved, and he was always so excited to see what was coming up next," Chris said. "Although he didn't get to help produce every state, he was always excited to come home from school and see a new Foodnited State in the fridge that I had worked on during the day. And, he usually got to eat it, which was his favorite part."
Although Cameron enjoyed scarfing down "Rocky Rhode Island," he said that its taste ranked a few notches below his favorite.
"I think my favorite [to eat] was probably 'West Virgingerbread Man,'" Cameron told TODAY.com this week. "'Rocky Rhode Island was probably my second- or third-favorite."
The duo celebrated the end of the project with an appearance Wednesday on "The Rachael Ray Show," where they helped teach viewers how to make "New Pork" while residing in the state of their choosing. Cameron said appearing on the show might have been his favorite part of the whole experience, in part because it allowed him to chow down on a candy apple.
"That candy apple was very delicious," Cameron concluded.
While the two sell their "Foodnited States" poster to fans for $30 a pop, they're considering expanding into "Foodnited Nations," an international take on the same theme. But for now, they're happy to bask in what they've accomplished.
"Bittersweet is a perfect way to describe this phase of the project coming to an end," Chris told TODAY.com.
His son agreed. "I'm a little sad," Cameron said. "I'm sad because it was actually fun working with my dad, seeing all 50 states [made]."
Long after the tastiest states were created (and sometimes eaten), Chris said the project has made his relationship with his son even sweeter.
"Anytime a parent and child can join forces for a creative project, it's a great way to bond," he said. "And, with the overwhelming attention that this project received, it's an experience that he will hopefully never forget. I'm glad that I got to share it with him. I look forward to when he's older, and I can say, 'Cam, remember when we made all of those Food States and you were all over the Internet?'"
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