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American cuisine is known worldwide for its iconic dishes like hamburgers, hot dogs, and apple pie. But delve a little deeper, and you’ll find some foods that are beloved by Americans yet leave the rest of the world scratching their heads. From sweet and savory combinations to regional delicacies, these foods are quintessentially American, yet often perplexing to outsiders. In this post, we explore 18 foods that Americans love and that the international crowd just does not get.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Ah, the classic PB&J. To Americans, this is a staple childhood lunch, but to the rest of the world, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. The combination of sweet jelly and salty peanut butter is a uniquely American delight.
Chicken and Waffles
This Southern classic is a perfect example of the American love for mixing sweet and savory. Crispy fried chicken served atop a fluffy waffle, all drizzled with sweet maple syrup. It’s a flavor rollercoaster that leaves many non-Americans puzzled.
Biscuits and Gravy
Not to be confused with the British biscuit, the American biscuit is a soft, flaky bread roll. Smother it in white gravy with sausage bits, and you’ve got a hearty breakfast that’s bewildering to many outside the U.S.
A hot dog on a stick, coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter and deep-fried to golden perfection. It’s a favorite at American fairs and carnivals, but it’s a culinary oddity to the rest of the world.
A shot of whiskey chased with a shot of pickle brine. It’s a bizarre combination that’s become a popular trend in American bars, but it’s enough to make most non-Americans cringe.
Root Beer Floats
A scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in a glass of root beer. It’s a sweet, creamy, fizzy concoction that’s a beloved treat in the U.S., but it’s an acquired taste for many others.
These little tri-colored candies are a Halloween staple in America. Their super sweet, slightly waxy taste is a mystery to many non-Americans.
A sweet filling sandwiched between two layers of pastry, coated in icing, and designed to be toasted. Pop-Tarts are a quick breakfast option in the U.S., but their sugary composition is perplexing to many.
A campfire treat consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. It’s a sticky, sweet mess that leaves many non-Americans scratching their heads.
A Southern staple, grits are made from ground corn and often served with butter, cheese, or gravy. Their bland taste and unusual texture are puzzling to many outside the U.S.
Pumpkin Spice Everything
From lattes to cereals to candles, Americans seem to love adding pumpkin spice to just about everything come fall. This obsession is a bit of a mystery to the rest of the world.
This bright orange, processed cheese product comes in a can and is often used as a topping for crackers or cheesesteaks. Its artificial taste and neon color are baffling to many non-Americans.
A loaf of ground meat, mixed with various ingredients and baked. It’s a classic American comfort food, but its loaf shape is a bit odd to many non-Americans.
Unlike the thin-crust pizzas many are used to, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is more like a pie, with a thick crust and lots of cheese and sauce. It’s a hearty meal that’s a bit of a puzzle to many outside the U.S.
Yes, you read that right. A stick of butter, coated in batter, and deep-fried. It’s a novelty food at American state fairs, but it’s a heart-stopping enigma to the rest of the world.
This dish combines sweet Jell-O with ingredients like fruit, vegetables, and sometimes even mayonnaise or cottage cheese. It’s a staple at many American family gatherings, but its mix of flavors and textures is bewildering to many.
Macaroni and Cheese
A dish of soft pasta coated in creamy, melted cheese. It’s a beloved comfort food in the U.S., but the idea of turning pasta into a cheese dish is a bit strange to many non-Americans.
These bright orange, cheese-flavored snacks are a favorite in the U.S. Their intense artificial cheese flavor and neon color are a curiosity to many outside the U.S.
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Michelle Harler is the founder of Guide2Free, a website dedicated to finding and sharing freebies, product testing opportunities, and other ways to save money. With over a decade of experience in the industry, her expertise in finding quality offers makes Guide2Free an invaluable resource for anyone looking to try new products and save money.