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The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented

Posted by on July 2 2008 in Bacon, Cheese, Desserts, Fowl, Holiday, Lists, Red Meat, Sandwich

american-eating.jpg
Photo: Emdot

When it comes to food, America gets a bad rap. It’s a common refrain that America has no cuisine to call our own. We’ve got apple pie and hot dogs, but that’s about it. (And when you really get down to it, the Germans invented hot dogs, and the British were eating apple pie like 1,000 years ago.)

But the truth is, America does have a cuisine to call it’s own. Over the past 232 years we’ve invented some of the most creative, daring, and yes, downright craziest dishes the world has ever seen. Sure, they can be overly greasy, a little too cheesy, and sometimes fried a few times too many. But they’re ours. So to celebrate Independence Day, we’ve put together this list of the best foods that only a country with just the right combination of greed, grit, and gluttony could have possibly dreamed up.

The Top Ten Foods Only America Could Have Invented:

10. Corn Dog
corn-dog.jpg
Photo: Intangible Arts

In 1942, at a beautiful place called the Texas State Fair, an industrious young man named Neil Fletcher came up with a way to make his hot dogs sell quicker: dip them in corn meal, deep fry ‘em, and pop ‘em on a stick. And so an American tradition was born. Every year, as the weather turns warmer and state fair season comes around, Americans say to themselves: what can we deep fry next? We’ve deep fried twinkies, oreos, hamburgers, even coca-cola. But all of these wondrous achievements owe a debt to the original food that really didn’t need to be battered and fried but just had to be: the corn dog.

9. Philly Cheesesteak
cheesesteak.jpg
Photo: x-eyedblonde

Only Philadelphia, the most American of all cities, could invent an iconic sandwich and then vehemently insist that there shall be no attempts to make it good. Crappiest ingredients only, please. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell explained problems non PA-ers have when trying to make cheesesteaks: “First, they use good meat. You need the fattiest, stringiest meat to get a proper taste.” The second mistake, of course, is that you’ve got to use Cheese Whiz; no real cheese allowed. Rendell insists this is became “real cheese doesn’t melt,” which is of course a lie. But never matter. The Philly Cheesesteak is delicious. Would it be more delicious if it were made with thinly slice Kobe steak and melted Gruyere? Of course it would be. But it wouldn’t be as amazing.

8. “Chinese Food”
chinese-food.jpg
Photo: VirtualEm

One of the great things about American cuisine is that when we come up with something so outrageous that even we can’t stand behind it, we figure out a way to pin it on someone else. Case in point: “Chinese Food.” All across America, Chinese buffets offer endless arrays of beautiful, deep-fried, grease-soaked food. General Tso’s chicken, chop suey, egg rolls, chow mein, fortune cookies. What do all these dishes have in common? They were all invented in America. Seriously people, do you really think Chinese people eat this crap? No. They eat rice. With vegetables and maybe a little meat. And it’s not battered or fried, or double fried, or double battered, and it’s certainly not filled with cheese. I mean, crab rangoon? Come on, that stuff has imitation crab meat and cream cheese. It could only have been invented in one place, and I think you know where that is.

7. S’mores
smore.jpg
Photo: Phil Hawksworth

It’s difficult to say exactly how s’mores became so popular throughout America. Graham crackers are not particularly well-liked, and neither are marshmallows. We generally do not enjoy eating things that were cooked on a stick our little brother just found in the dirt, nor do we usually like to burn our food to a crisp before dinnertime. Yet somehow, s’mores just work. Despite their cutesy contraction of a name, and the fact that we have to actually cook and assemble them ourselves, rather than order them from a fast food window, I’ve yet to meet a person who does not love s’mores. Except for foreigners, who will look at you like you are the craziest person ever if you try to explain what a s’more is.

6. Reuben Sandwich
reuben.jpg
Photo: kimberlykv

This fully-loaded sandwich may seem like an international delicacy, but the reuben is as American as it gets. Start with pastrami–a meat so infused with spices that it has more flavor in a single bite than most full meals. Pile this sky-high, preferably using at least a pound of meat per sandwich. Add on some “swiss” cheese–a bland, hole-y cheese that no actual Swiss person would ever touch. Top it off with “Russian dressing,” a beautiful orange mayonnaise concoction that–you guessed it–hasn’t a thing to do with Russia.

Next: Top 5 Foods Only America Could Have Invented

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318 Responses leave one →
  1. March 13, 2011

    Interesting piece.

    There are two things I would like to point out:

    1. To all the Americans that keep claiming this is “America-bashing”: Get over yourselves, this is a fun piece that explores dishes that are popular in our nation (or in particular parts of our nation). You are lying if you say you haven’t encountered most of these dishes a few times a year.

    2. To all those who say “this is why America is fat”: You realize this is not what a majority of us eat all the time, right? Many of these foods are reserved for special occasions- the s’mores for camping, the turducken for large holiday dinners, the corn dogs for festivals/fairs, etc. I, for the record, erroneously believed that America was the fattest nation, until another commenter pointed out that there are 10 nations fatter than us.

    Why do so many people feel so inclined to go to the most extreme ends of the spectrum? Why are there so few people from the US chuckling about this? Why are there so few people from outside of the US taking this list with a grain of salt? ::facepalm::

  2. Dubs permalink
    April 6, 2011

    Loved this article! Great humor, great list, funny commentary, overall extremely fun to read.. thank you

  3. Sean permalink
    April 11, 2011

    Baked Alaska is not American, it is French.

  4. CutterJohn permalink
    April 18, 2011

    I too enjoyed this article with a few corrections. Actually egg rolls date back to ancient China, having originated out of South China in early Cantonese cuisine. They also appeared in East Asia long before America existed. And though many historians state that chop suey is an American invention, it actually originated in Guangdong Province in China, called za suey. That said, I still love the fact that fortune cookies are completely American.

  5. CutterJohn permalink
    April 18, 2011

    correction to my last post, chop suey’s original name is “za sui”

  6. Whitney permalink
    April 28, 2011

    Looks like you’ve missed one of the key ingredients of a Reuben Sandwich — sauerkraut! You can’t have a Reuben without it….

  7. July 22, 2011

    Too bad you wrote this article before the KFC double down.

  8. August 2, 2011

    I love buffalo wings. They are popular even here in the Philippines. Thanx for the post, made me hungry though..

  9. August 27, 2011

    Do a little research the English and French have been stuffing one animal inside another for centuries, so the Turducken is not actual unique to America.

  10. Jeffrey H permalink
    October 22, 2011

    Chinese food is chinese. We do eat chow mein, fried foods, a LOT of fried foods. In fact, Chinese people eat Stewed pork belly that has been stewing in it’s own fat. Have you ever been to a dim sum restaurant? Have you not seen the mounds of fried foods? General Tso’s chicken is a chinese food. American’s have just POPULARIZED certain foods that the chinese don’t because we have better fried foods that you guys just don’t know about yet.

  11. sam yakins permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Great and funny article, with one exception. the Turducken.

    In France, people were already stuffing birds one into the other and cooking them, long before Columbus was born. An ancient French cook book from more than a century ago, even contains a recipe involving 14(!!) types of birds stuffed one into the other, from a huge turkey to a humming bird…

  12. Patrick Roscoe permalink
    November 10, 2011

    “Chinese Food”

    The familiar American cuisine typically called “Chinese Food” originated in America in the 1800s. Chinese-run restaurants in San Francisco at the time did actually offer authentic Chinese cuisine (primarily to Chinese customers), but Chinese owned restaurants in smaller towns throughout California and the West served whatever their customers requested, from pork chop sandwiches to baked beans. American Chinese cuisine began to emerge when these restaurants began modifying traditional Chinese dishe to suit local, Western palates. Chinese immigrants set up eateries in rail towns all over the West where traditional Chinese food was completely unknown and catered primarily to miners and railroad workers. These restaurants created a new, hybrid American/Chinese cuisine, adapting Southern Chinese dishes like Chop suey, Ginger beef and others.

    It’s important to point out that Chinese restaurants (and Chinese laundries) became prevalent at that time because these kinds of businesses provided a viable economic niche for Chinese immigrants who were largely excluded from almost every other kind of job because of racial discrimination and, very often, a lack of language fluency.

    “Westernized” versions of original Chinese dishes include Egg foo young, Egg rolls, Fried rice, Ginger beef and Ginger fried beef, Lo mein, Moo shoo pork, Wonton soup and many others.

  13. gossamer permalink
    November 27, 2011

    Try some Native American recipes. You can’t get more American than that.

  14. December 26, 2011

    Most of these foods are special occasion only, though of course every American knows someone who eats this junk on a daily basis. Personally, I’ve only eaten hot dogs at county fairs when I lived in the Midwest, and s’mores once of twice in my life, when my family camped out. I’ve never had baked Alaska, Buffalo wings (though I know they’re very popular) or Turduken (gross!).

    When I worked at a deli-style restaurant in Manhattan during college there were people who ordered a Reuben sandwich tree or four times a week, and I remember thinking about how unhealthy it was. That’s another one I haven’t tried, mostly because pastrami smells gross to me.

    This was an entertaining piece!

  15. poop permalink
    December 29, 2011

    american here, this was epic. no pizza though?

  16. douglas m permalink
    January 3, 2012

    #1 should have been ramen noodles

  17. February 2, 2012

    Still laughing about the chocolate chip ice cream one.

  18. ryan permalink
    March 2, 2012

    who ever wrote this is a fucking retard. how can CHINESE food be invented by americans…

  19. March 7, 2012

    poop, pizza is from itally you dimwit!!!

  20. March 9, 2012

    I don’t know much about Food… but a retard would know Fortune Cookies are from Fucking China you down syndrome fuck nut!

  21. April 14, 2012

    Very funny, it was a humourous article, I thoroughly enjoyed it

  22. falling permalink
    April 18, 2012

    Wow, there are truly some stupid people posting about this article! THIS IS JUST SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY!!!! And it is, if you aren’t an anal, self absorbed fool! Just laugh and enjoy the humor folks!

  23. Aleks permalink
    April 29, 2012

    I’m American, the ones I’ve heard of

    1. Corn Dog
    2. Philly Cheese Steak
    3. Chinese Food
    4. Smores
    5. Reuben Sandwich
    6. Buffalo Wings
    7. Cookie Dough Ice Cream

    The ones I’ve eaten.

    1. Corn Dog – plenty of times
    2. Cheese Steak – plenty of times
    3. Buffalo WIngs – plenty of times
    4. Smores – A few times
    5. Cookie Dough Ice cream – a few times.

    The ones i’ve never even heard of.

    1. Baked Alaska
    2. Turducken
    3. Cobb Salad

    So I haven’t heard of 3, I haven’t eaten 5. Which is half your list, and this list is as American as it gets? That’s strange considering I consider myself very American in that I don’t really care how unhealthy something is, if it taste good I’ll eat it.

  24. Aleks permalink
    April 29, 2012

    Oops I forgot Chinese Food, I guess that only makes 4 I haven’t eaten.

  25. Julie Baker permalink
    May 9, 2012

    General Tso’s Chicken in Chinese is called ??? (zuo zong ji). Named after a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan Province, it is a very common and popular dish.

    Nobody eats Chicken Fingers in China.

  26. Connie permalink
    May 17, 2012

    Absolutely LOVED this piece!! I laughed so hard I cried. You have Americans taste and habits pegged. We ARE a funny culture, with an extremely vivid imagination, enormous curiosity, and strongly competitive. If what we create doesn’t appeal to most, your absolutely right,
    as with the Chinese food….You didnt get it from us!

  27. June 6, 2012

    wow!wow! awesome photo collection of corn dog.i like it.

  28. Emma permalink
    August 21, 2012

    I was trying to find a website that had food the us invented and this one was the only one I could find. However it is dripping with sarcasm so I cannot trust it. Way to lose out on making an actually useful article. And instead making one that rips on the food culture of a very young country made of immigrants.
    Also although we may have invented fatty food, (speaking for myself and people I know) we eat food invented by other countries all the time. Two things I have ever had and have only had them once or twice. All the good food has been invented many years ago and since we are such a globalized world we eat food of other cultures

  29. August 31, 2012

    i am not really sure that “chinese food” you refered is an american one lol.
    i am an asian and i do know chinese people and their culture.

    well i kinda agree with half of “fake-chinese-which-actually-american” food because none of those chinese would’ve eat that crap. But for sure, the cook tehniques both real-chinese and fake-Chinese used is the same.

    No, they’re not using little amount of salt.
    Yes. they eat lot’s of meat.
    Yes. Half of food of Chinese Restaurants in America are crap.

  30. licuid permalink
    September 2, 2012

    the reason why most americans dont find this amusing is because most of what the article says is very inaccurate. buffalo wings are not fried. theyre baked. turducken wasnt made in america. nobody eats baked alaskas unless its at a drunk highschool party, and im pretty sure almost nobody knows what a cobb salad. this is just made up crap.

  31. Canadian permalink
    October 6, 2012

    …first of all this article is way out of fucking whack (excuse my language) but seriously I have been to America pleanty of times(I lived their for 13 years) (Canada for 24 years) and “Chinese food” how do you not understand the word “Chinese” and s’mores how the hell is this American and only for “special ocassions” they are s’mores how hard is it to make anny other time of the year for gods sake Canadians do that dayly while them fat Americans are dreaming up something else to deep dry or add more salt or butter too and a reunion sandwich it’s a fucking sandwit h with fucking onions and meat(a whole bunc of fatty American “meat” the point is it ha all beenqround for a lot longer than any of the dumb fucks think it was 99% of that is never even started.in americabut at least say Canada has actually made food from real stuff not the leftovers from a rotting cow we use fresh cheese and real home made gravy from Frey roast from the ovenother time of the year for gods sake Canadians do that dayly while them fat Americans are dreaming up something else to deep dry or add more salt or butter too and a loaded sandwich it’s a fucking sandwitch with fucking onions and meat(a whole bunc of fatty American “meat” the point is it all been around for a lot longer than any of the dumb fucks think it was 99% of that is never even started.in americabut at least say Canada has actually made food from real stuff not the leftovers from a rotting cow we use fresh cheese and real home made gravy from Fresh roast from the oven they at least do it healthy and I’m honestly a very embarrassed to be a legal American

  32. Jenny P. permalink
    October 18, 2012

    Loved this article! Came across it when looking for an all American snack for United Nations Day at school. We live in China and I love your comments about American “Chinese Food” buffets. So true!! Can’t get any of that stuff here..though I prefer it over the authentic “Chinese food” :)

  33. Jimmy permalink
    December 30, 2012

    I love how almost none of the americans that comment here are all angry and complaining about something. I’m from australia and i thought this was a pretty funny way to show some crazy american foods and i think all of you should just learn to take a joke about yourselves. I’ll show you a bit. G’day all you americans here in australia we eat both our national emblems, eat some shrimp fried on the barbie and if our mates are around we drink 5 times the amount we eat in beer. So have a beaut day take and just sit back and enjoy this for what its worth.

  34. mary-Ann kellas permalink
    January 1, 2013

    someone commented baked alaska is french it s actually american dating back to new york in about 1876, it wasn’t till a chinese delegation went to paris that it was made there for the first time, and the became sybolic to be served in chinese restaurants in honor of their ancestors………… i’m australian and even i know this

  35. Julian permalink
    February 11, 2013

    HotDog isn’t German it’s Danish.

  36. AussieJT permalink
    February 15, 2013

    When I think American food, I think of the twinky. We don’t have them in Australia, but I did try one once, quite an experience, what about koolaid

  37. Mike permalink
    March 4, 2013

    Last time I checked a Reuben was corned beef brisket, thinly sliced NOT Pastrami.
    And you forgot the ever so important sauerkraut.

  38. nick permalink
    March 15, 2013

    One that you missed off is stuffed crust pizza

    Real pizza in Italy is very thin, the abominations from Dominoes with bacon and cheese in the crust and piles of cheese and meat on top is very American

  39. May 2, 2013

    I’ve heard of these ones, Smores, Buffalo wings, Corn Dog, Philly Cheese Steak but have never heard of Cobb salad, Turducken and Baked Alaskan

  40. May 3, 2013

    OMG I Thought That Chinese Food Came From China…. Guess I Was Wrong There….

  41. Michelle permalink
    June 3, 2013

    I live in China… they use more oil in Chinese food than American Chinese food… just saying. Most of the food is soaked in oil. And there is tons of MSG, in like everything. They call it “gourmet powder.” Not that the food doesn’t often taste better in China, but it’s definitely not necessarily healthier, not to mention you can’t really trust it in most places.

  42. Nathaniel permalink
    June 15, 2013

    Necessarily the Reuben Sandwich is a mix of international ingredients just look at all the stuff used to make it. Saurkraut – German, Corned Beef – Irish, Swiss cheese – Swiss. So it is not American if different cultures made it. Something that truly is “American” is something made by Native American Indians, they were here way before us. So Corn on the Cob is probably American.

  43. Mollypants permalink
    July 25, 2013

    Sorry, but you’ve got it all wrong as to why Philly Cheesesteaks taste awful outside of Philly. It’s not the meat or the cheese – it’s the bread. The bread is EXTREMELY soft and maintains its properties only because it is made with water from the (disgusting) Schuylkill River (pronounced “school-kil”).
    I found my beagle, Colonel Mustard, when he was living as a stray on the mean streets of Philadelphia, hiding from the dog catcher behind the dumpster of a cheesesteak place. He will LITERALLY eat an entire 10″ Philly Cheesesteak in two bites and ten seconds flat. But when we moved to North Carolina, I bought him a non-Philly Cheesesteak for his birthday from a place recommended to me down here. He would not touch it. I feel the same way.

  44. Ryan permalink
    August 16, 2013

    Fortune Cookies are invented by Chinese Americans in California.

    And when the writer says “Chinese food” is invented in the US, he meant that the dishes you find in Chinese restaurants in America, and not literally the Chinese food eaten outside the US.

    I’d know, as a Chinese American who have vacationed in various Asian cities populated by Han Chinese over the years in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan.

  45. lala permalink
    December 13, 2013

    Baked Alaska or omelette norvègienne! It’s 100% french…

  46. January 24, 2014

    Egg rolls originated from China.

  47. 'murca permalink
    February 21, 2014

    Wtf is “turducken”? I’m american and I’ve never heard of that crap. Looks like something that’d be served at the heart attack cafe.

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