America is home to many great culinary marvels known around the world. Clam chowder, chocolate chip cookies, grilled cheese — all classic American dishes. I think it can be agreed that Americans have contributed their fair share to the world of food.
However, being a non-American, I decided to do some fact checking on some delicious delicacies that are often mistaken for being American. It’s time to give credit where credit is due.
1. Apple Pie
Hearts of American patriots everywhere are breaking at the thought of the old expression, “as American as apple pie,” proving to be based on nothing but lies. The first known apple pie recipe dates back to 14th century England. Interestingly, due to the price and scarcity of sugar, the pastry part of the pie was not originally meant to be eaten, but instead was used as a container for baking the apples.
But fear not for the integrity of the American tradition! As we know Americans love to do with British things (see: the English language), they took this recipe rooted in foreign tradition and just ran with it, making today’s American apple pie totally different from the ones made way back when, and even the ones made in England today.
2. Hot Dogs
A staple at American sports events, barbecues and New York City sidewalks, the hot dog was originally made and eaten in Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria (known as “Wien” in most European languages). For some of you, this might finally make sense of the name “frankfurter” and “wiener” for a hotdog sausage.
If you’re like me, it might also have taken you an embarrassingly long time to realize that hamburgers got their name because they’re from Hamburg, Germany, and not, as you might have previously inferred, because they were originally burgers made of ham. No? Just me? Okay.
4. Peanut Butter
It’s a main fixture in the diet of American children and adults alike, and has become one of the main “weird” things Americans are known internationally for eating. But as it turns out, peanut butter has its roots with the ancient cultures of the Aztecs and Incas of South America.
A recipe for this dinnertime classic actually first appeared in a 5th century Roman cookbook. The American version of it wasn’t popularized until the late 1800s. Get your 50’s housewife on with these adorable mini meatloaf bites.
This Halloween favorite was actually first introduced in the U.K. in the 1960s. Back then, they were called Opal Fruits, and came in lemon, orange, lime and strawberry flavors.
7. Fried Chicken
I was as surprised as anyone that Colonel Sanders was not the pioneer of this Southern classic. Fried chicken was actually first made and served in the great country of Scotland, but here are the 25 best places to get fried chicken on this side of the pond.
Although the wonderful and bizarre things the Americans have done with bacon (maple-bacon potato chips, bacon flavored popcorn, bacon and egg toast cups, etc.) are impressive and extensive, bacon has its roots back in the Roman Empire.
Doughnuts originated as a Dutch delicacy, called olykoeks, meaning “oily cakes.” Changing the name to doughnuts was probably a pretty good call, because I don’t think anyone would feel good about ordering a dozen glazed oily cakes to-go.
So there you go. Nine foods that aren’t as American as you might have thought they were. This really highlights that America truly is the great melting pot (cooking pun intended). Americans aren’t afraid to tinker with recipes, and sometimes even develop something completely new based on an idea that came from somewhere else – although I will always maintain that deep dish pizza is a flat-out insult to Italian food.
It’s a country full of people who revel in their ancestry and roots in other countries, and celebrate it with food. As a foreigner, it’s one of the reasons I love it. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where the food is from. What matters is that we’re eating it, and it’s delicious.