The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented

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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
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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
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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”
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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
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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
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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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326 comments

  • licuid 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.

  • Canadian 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

  • Jenny P. 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” :)

  • Jimmy 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.

  • mary-Ann kellas 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

  • Julian February 11, 2013  

    HotDog isn’t German it’s Danish.

  • AussieJT 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

  • Mike 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.

  • nick 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

  • John Baylor 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

  • Zoe May 3, 2013  

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

  • Michelle 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.

  • Nathaniel 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.

  • Mollypants 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.

  • Ryan 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.

  • lala December 13, 2013  

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

  • Yen January 24, 2014  

    Egg rolls originated from China.

  • 'murca 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.

  • Jay May 19, 2014  

    The author of this piece is obviously uneducated in the way of food, and is just a consumer. Firstly, wings are cooked at 350 degrees by frying, a style of cooking that was not invented by Americans. Its pretty obvious to the consumer that they came off of a bird, unless you’re eating at a shitty restaurant, which you clearly are. The real crime here is in how the chickens were raised, not in how they were prepared. If Americans don’t get a HUGE piece of GMO’d chicken, they’re upset about it. Secondly, turducken is a very old dish originally used to serve Roman soldiers. Its not American whatsoever, it was used as a meal in harsh times to feed lots of people, by using one manner of cookery. Get your facts straight. Thirdly, ‘Chinese food’ may have been re-invented here, but that country is responsible for almost all endangered species on the list due to stupid theories of ‘classical medicine’, which have been proven to not work. It proves that the Chinese don’t do things correctly, as does the poor quality of EVERYTHING they make. Unfortunately, due to the shortsightedness of a retarded president (Clinton), now the Chinese will overrun us in the third World War. If you’d ever traveled to third world countries, you would be proud to be an American when you got home, for the little freedoms that we have, rather than trying to slander this country by finding little quirks to knock.

  • Jay May 19, 2014  

    Oh..and to CANADIAN… you’re an idiot. People only eat s’mores here generally while camping. Hence ‘special occasions’. If you Canadians are truly eating them every day as you clearly state, then maybe mountees are the fat ones. You’re stuck with the French idea that the French are superior in EVERY way… which is funny, because again, when traveling, everyone hates the French.

  • Ken Fletcher May 26, 2014  

    Chow mein is also Chinese in origin – ??. It just means ‘fried noodles’. Not American, at all.

  • Amber Powers July 27, 2014  

    Chinese food that is egg rolls, chow mein and such are actually chinese food. The chinese DO eat fried foods, lots of it. They just dont consume it in large quantities like Americans do. Fake Chinese food is fortune cookies, crab ragoons and cashew chicken. Cashew chicken was invented by a Chinese man(Leong) in Springfield Missouri, (where I’m from) he was a wonderful man, his children still run a restaurant in Springfield, still serving his wonderful creation. I love it when I go to a chinese restaurant with my chinese friends that are actually from China. We spend most of the time talking about the food thats real chinese food and the ones Americans made. :)

  • phil allen August 21, 2014  

    Turducken seems to enjoy its popularity to John Madden. Are there any other individuals around who are so closely identified to a dish or food?

  • Ulysses June 22, 2015  

    I love how someone in the comments section wants to claim that Turducken is Roman. Unless I’m mistaken, the Europeans never encountered Turkeys until after their colonisation of the Americas

  • Brie June 23, 2015  

    This whole shitty article reeks of ignorant snobbishness.

  • raf July 8, 2015  

    i don’t like the food they eat in America or usa which is the same thing

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