It makes perfect sense that South Dakota's official state bird would be at the center of the state's most iconic sandwich.

In a story listing the most iconic sandwiches in each state, the business catering website chose the Phesant Salad Sandwich as the most South Dakota thing between two slices of bread.

The history of the sandwich in the Mount Rushmore State reached epic proportions during World War II when soldiers traveling or training in the Upper Midwest would pass through Aberdeen. That's where the Pheasant Canteen quickly developed a reputation for a sandwich featuring pheasant.

Not only were they tasty, but they were also free! And that kept the mainly volunteer staff busy from 8:00 AM to midnight, seven days a week.

Here's how they were made more than 70 years ago:


  • 3 - cups cooked pheasant chopped fine
  • 2 - hard-cooked eggs chopped fine
  • 2 - carrots grated
  • 1/2 - medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 - cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 - teaspoon sweet pickle relish
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Mayonnaise or salad dressing to blend nicely
  • Mix all ingredients together. Add dressing to taste, chill. Spread on sandwich bread

Not surprisingly, The Canteen closed shortly after the end of the war, in 1946, but the tradition of the sandwich is still alive at the Pheasant Restaurant in Brookings where their slightly-altered version consists of pheasant salad made with apple, dried cranberries, and roasted pecans, served with melted Swiss on grilled marbled rye.

The Chinese ring-necked pheasant was introduced to South Dakota in 1898. It was designated as the official state bird in 1943.

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