Some foods trigger unequivocal American pride - the hot dog, hamburger, macaroni and cheese, apple pie. So you might be surprised that these and other “American” foods were, in fact, created elsewhere. Sometimes they were even popular in other countries, but the US eventually seemed to take credit for the culinary invention. Serving as a melting pot of cultures, the United States has long taken traditional foods from other countries and put its own spin on them.
Although these foods are not any less tasty because they're not American-bred, you might hesitate the next time a friend asks if you want to get some “American” grub.
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Fried chicken is inexplicably tied to the American South - though US citizens everywhere enjoy it. Although most assume the recipe originated somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, it actually came about much farther north (and east).
Fried chicken was likely first cooked up in Great Britain - either Scotland or England.
One of the first known recipes of fried chicken was found in a 1747 cookbook, which describes the process of frying battered chicken. Another record of fried chicken comes from biographer James Boswell, who wrote in his 1773 diary entry about eating what was essentially fried chicken on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
It's theorized that these Scottish and English settlers brought their fried chicken recipes to the Southern US, where enslaved people prepared the dish. Over time, the food became a much beloved entree of Southern meals.
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Peanut butter has a long history in America. In 1895, John Harvey Kellogg filed a patent for a peanut paste process. The product was made specifically to treat ailments at the Battle Creek Sanitarium - essentially a wellness spa where huge names like Amelia Earhart, Sojourner Truth, and Henry Ford all sought Kellogg's treatments.
Kellogg, however, didn't invent peanut butter. That honor goes to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Canada, the creator of peanut paste and holder of the first patent.
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Starburst Candies Were Invented In England
Chewy, fruity Starburst candies were not created in the US - and initially had a different name. Starburst, released in 1960 in the UK as “Opal Fruits,” got a new name when introduced in the United States.
In 1967, a new candy called M&M’s Fruit Chewies hit shelves. But the candies weren't performing as well as Mars wanted, so the company renamed them again, to Starburst.
When Mars tried to change Opal Fruits to Starburst in the UK, an uproar ensued - and Opal Fruits were brought back for a limited time.
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How ironic is it that perhaps the most American dessert was actually created in the land of the country's former rulers?
Apple pie can trace its roots to England in the 14th century. In a recipe from 1381, the pie called for apples - along with saffron, pears, and raisins.
Yet these pies often weren't made with sugar, and the crust wasn't meant to be eaten; it was more of a baking container for the fruity innards to cook.
The American connection to apple pie might have taken off in the latter part of colonial history, when colonists often had to show some improvement of land to maintain ownership of it, and fruit trees were an easy way to add value.
With plenty of spare apples lying around, pie was an easy way to put them to good use.
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Watermelon is extremely popular in the United States, especially during summer. But it turns out this fruit wasn't native to the United States, or even North America.
Watermelon, or at least its ancestor, started growing in Africa around 5,000 years ago. But the ancient watermelon was nothing like what we enjoy today - it was bitter with hard, green flesh.
Over the centuries, humans cultivated and chose sweeter seeds until they created the juicy melon that exists today.
Eventually, watermelon spread across the world through trade, and different varieties were created, which is how America ended up with its watermelon.
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In America, you can find dozens, if not hundreds, of varieties of macaroni and cheese. From homemade to boxed dinners, nearly everyone has their preferred way to prepare the adored pasta dish.
But again, this meal is a transplant. We got our mac and cheese recipe from a country known for its penchant for pasta: Italy.
The first mac and cheese recipe dates back to the 13th century, and was found in an Italian cookbook. Back then, the dish called for pasta cut into 2-inch squares, which were cooked in water, then tossed with a grated cheese (most likely Parmesan).
Macaroni and cheese gained popularity in the US during the time of the colonists - with Thomas Jefferson's enslaved chef, James Hemmings, likely creating the recipe we love today.