People don’t generally travel to the United States for culinary delights. Although some foodie cities try to overcome America’s stereotype of being the home of comfort junk food, it will never get the reputation that France or Italy have as fine dining destinations.
As a melting pot of diverse cultures, most of the top foods in the US came from somewhere else. Even the foodie cities feature “Italian beef sandwiches” and “French toast.”
However, the US has some of its own iconic cultural foods. While scrolling through my favorite sub on Reddit, R/Askreddit, I came across a thread asking users to describe foods they considered “cultural foods of the US.”
The top answers are hysterical but may also make food-loving Americans cringe. These are the dishes people think of when they think “US?” Perhaps we have to step up our culinary game.
The hot wing craze started in Buffalo, NY, at the tourist hot spot Anchorbar. Of course, locals say that’s no longer the place to get the best wings.
“The irony is that the place that invented the wing is the worst place to get wings in the Buffalo area (Anchorbar). You can get a better wing just about anywhere,” said one user.
The food moved on from Buffalo to become a culinary staple in the US and around the world.
“As someone not from the states I would kill to try a peach cobbler or a pumpkin pie,” said one user.
Americans love their cobblers. “Nothing better than hot peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream in the summer time. One of my favorite desserts.” responded another.
America put peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the map. One Redditor received over 13000 upvotes and numerous awards for telling an epic tale about when they helped a German citizen craft the perfect PB&J.
“I was grocery shopping recently when a very nice German guy approached me for advice,” they began. “He had friends coming to visit from his home country, and he wanted to introduce them to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and could I advise him on the best ingredients? He already had some kind of bullshit artisan bread from the bakery department in his cart. I told him to put that back, go to the bread aisle and get the crappy white Wonder Bread. Then there was discussion about the merits of Welch’s grape jelly vs. strawberry jam, and how most big brand peanut butter is optimal as opposed to the oily natural kind. Lastly he learned to use the term “PB & J.” He went away delighted, and it felt great to be a cultural ambassador!”
Another mentioned that the tasty lunchtime sandwich is often featured in American cartoons and children’s shows.
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New Orleans is its own culinary mecca and has created a fantastic array of cultural foods native to the region and, as a result, the United States.
“I made shrimp and cheese grits this weekend. It’s a $6/plate meal that tastes like a $20/plate meal.” said one user, noting that a benefit of cajun food is the low cost. Others complained that fine dining establishments were destroying the concept of cajun food by charging extravagant prices for what was supposed to be “poor people’s food.”
“I’ve traveled the world and no one knows what smores are besides Americans,” said one user of the iconic campfire desert.
“I have heard of other countries where they thought s’mores were a made-up food from American and Canadian cartoons that nobody ever actually made,’ replied another.
The Cuban Sandwich
You’d think a sandwich called “the Cuban” would have originated in Cuba, but according to one Redditor, it was first created in Tampa Bay.
“A pressed Cuban sandwich is the greatest,” offered one user, while others argued about whether the iconic sandwich was created in Tampa or Miami. Either way, it was in the US.
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The US is a top corn producer, so it would make sense that we developed iconic dishes from the hearty vegetable.
“The flour to make this is pretty uncommon in other countries. I had to use polenta to make corn dogs,” said one user.
“This is the real one,” admitted one user. “Goes all the way back to the natives and it’s ubiquitous. I hate it. I live in the south and swear my mom could live on the stuff. I hate it. But this is the real American food, a staple for centuries.”
Biscuits & Gravy
Other countries don’t smother their flakey biscuits in lard-filled turkey gravy?
Some users thought it might be a southern thing, but others claimed to see the savory breakfast dish everywhere. “I’ve seen biscuits and gravy on diner menus in every part of every state I’ve ever been in,” said one. Others said that although it may be on the menu, you can only get “good” biscuits & gravy in the south.
International users who use the term “biscuit” to describe cookies were rightly appalled at the idea of slathering them in gravy. “I saw a post about a guy in the UK using the biscuits he used for tea, (cookies basically for us Americans) and poured gravy on top. It.. didn’t go well,” said one.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Who would have thought that one of the most basic cookies hails from the United States? Many users were shocked to discover that chocolate chip cookies aren’t popular elsewhere.
“I live in the Netherlands now and they have chocolate chip-ish cookies here. And the double chocolate ones. They call them all American cookies, which I think is hilarious,” said one user.
“Had a German exchange student stay with us when I was growing up. She couldn’t get enough chocolate chip cookies. Had never had them in Germany and was totally fascinated by them.” replied another.
Americans love BBQ. The debate on which region creates the best smoked meat rages ever on. Redditors clarified that BBQ refers to smoking meat, although some call hosting a party with grilled foods “having a barbeque.”
“This should be #1. Also real BBQ is smoked using a smoker, it isn’t grilled.” said one user.
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The US Abounds with Amazing Cultural Foods
Although only a few foods can be considered US cultural goods as a whole, different regions of the US have developed amazing, unique culinary masterpieces. Philly cheesesteaks, Boston clam chowder, Chicago hot dogs, and southern fried chicken all have special places in our hearts.
Do you think Redditors had a good grasp on which foods represent the US as a whole? What other culinary delights would you have picked for the list?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.