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15 Things Americans Love That Were Invented by Immigrants

Updated September 23, 2021 3.2k votes 496 voters 27.9k views15 items

List RulesVote up the things you totally love, but had no idea were created by American immigrants.

Modern America was founded by immigrants. True, the rich culture of Native American tribes thrived across the land when Europeans began settling on the future country's shores. But the formation of the United States as citizens know it was just one of the many things started by immigrants - the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence had been born on British soil, albeit in the New World.

Over the centuries, the country welcomed in immigrants. In return, these newcomers brought new innovations that it seems impossible to imagine life without. Could you go a day without Colgate toothpaste? And what would an American cookout be without hamburgers and Heinz ketchup?

Inventions by immigrants have had an immeasurable impact on American culture. From the Brooklyn Bridge to beer, these things invented by immigrants are contributions worth celebrating.

  • Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives/CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

    The origins of the hamburger, as well as who was the first to "invent" it in the United States, are still up for debate. There are a number of different restaurants - and even cities - that claim to be the first. People agree that the name derives from the city of Hamburg, Germany, and hamburgers arrived in America via German immigrants. From there, things get murky.

    Although there are some questions about its originality, the Hamburg steak supposedly first appeared on the menu of a New York City restaurant, Delmonico's, in the early 1800s. The Menches Brothers of Northeastern Ohio claim to have served the Hamburg steak on a bun during the 1885 Erie County Fair. Louis' Lunch, a diner in New Haven, CT, says it was the first restaurant in the United States to serve hamburgers in 1900.

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    Blue jeans likely wouldn't exist today if it weren't for Levi's. The Levi Strauss company was started by a German immigrant in the 19th century. Loeb Strauss came from Bavaria to the United States in 1847. Once he arrived, Levi Strauss - as he was now known - joined the New York City-based dry goods business run by fellow family members.

    In 1853, Strauss headed to San Francisco to capitalize on the financial boom of the Gold Rush, and started a wholesale company. One of his customers, a tailor named Jacob Davis, had an idea to produce sturdy denim work pants reinforced with rivets and featuring extra-durable pockets and seams. Davis and Strauss patented their jeans in 1873, and a wardrobe staple was born.

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    Heinz ketchup is a summer barbecue staple, adding zip to hamburgers and hotdogs. The "Heinz" part of the name derives from the condiment's founder, Henry J. Heinz, who was born shortly after his parents arrived in the United States from their home country of Germany.

    After the Civil War, Heinz began bottling and selling horseradish in clear glass containers, the better to display the product's quality. After a few financial setbacks, the company took off, and soon offered "57 varieties" of bottled foods to aid housewives with the cooking. In 1876, Heinz debuted his tomato ketchup - and the rest is history.

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    The Chevrolet Motor Car Company is known for making classic, all-American vehicles. But "Chevy" was actually created by an immigrant, Louis-Joseph Chevrolet. He was born in Switzerland in 1878 and raised in France, and spent time in Canada before moving to the United States in 1900. He started his Detroit-based motor car company in 1911 inspired by the success of Henry Ford.

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