In Utah, root beer is the bomb, the center of the party. There is such a thing as a root beer bash. Families have rituals and memories of homemade root beer. The USU Aggies even play beer pong with root beer.
Utah's food is regular fodder for snobby foodies like myself. A survivalist frontier mentality—including reliance on foods that keep well—together with Utah’s famously large families means that convenience foods are popular recipe ingredients and that thrift often comes before flavor, both bad indicators for fine food.
But just as every Thanksgiving feast has one beloved dish that’s utterly traditional to the family but slightly gross to outsiders, every culture’s cuisine has its questionable side. In Texas, Velveeta melted with Ro-Tel is part of the canon. In the Upper Midwest, people don’t blink at Watergate salad. The list goes on: Pork rinds. Peanuts in Coca-Cola. Waldorf salad.
So I say: Embrace Utah food, instead of eschewing it. By embracing it, you’ll improve it.
And the fame of Utah’s odder foodways is largely our own fault. We did make those collectible Utah Olympic pins in the image of fry sauce, funeral potatoes, root beer and no less than three different versions of green Jell-O.