HomeFood8 Iconic American Foods That Are Weird to People in Other Countries

    8 Iconic American Foods That Are Weird to People in Other Countries

    American cuisine is known for its diversity and innovation, but some iconic dishes can seem quite unusual to people from other countries. Here are eight quintessential American foods that often leave international visitors scratching their heads.

    1. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

    The peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) sandwich is a staple of American childhoods, known for its simple preparation and sweet-and-salty flavor profile. However, in many parts of the world, this combination is far from common. For instance, in countries like Argentina and the Philippines, peanut butter itself has historically been difficult to find, and the idea of pairing it with jelly is even more foreign. The concept of mixing these two ingredients can seem odd to those who are more accustomed to either sweet or savory spreads on their bread, but not both.

    2. Chicken-Fried Steak

    Chicken-fried steak is a Southern American classic that confuses many due to its name. Despite its name, the dish does not contain chicken. Instead, it is a breaded and fried beef steak, typically served with a rich, creamy gravy. The origins of chicken-fried steak can be traced back to German and Austrian immigrants who brought the concept of wiener schnitzel to America. This adaptation, using beef instead of veal and adding gravy, is uniquely American and can seem quite strange to those unfamiliar with this culinary fusion.

    3. Sweet Potato Casserole

    Sweet potato casserole is a beloved dish during Thanksgiving in America, featuring a mix of mashed sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, and often topped with marshmallows. This blend of sweet and savory elements is unusual to many outside the United States. The dish was popularized in 1917 by Angelus Marshmallows to boost marshmallow sales, creating a holiday tradition that combines dessert-like sweetness with a hearty vegetable base. The concept of adding marshmallows to a vegetable dish is particularly baffling to those from cultures where such ingredients are strictly used for desserts.

    4. Ambrosia Salad

    Ambrosia salad is another holiday favorite, especially in the Southern United States. This dish typically includes a mix of canned fruits such as pineapple and mandarin oranges, miniature marshmallows, shredded coconut, and a creamy base made from mayonnaise or whipped cream. The combination of ingredients creates a sweet, tangy, and creamy salad that is quite different from traditional fruit salads found in other parts of the world. The use of marshmallows and mayonnaise in a fruit salad is particularly strange to many, making ambrosia salad a uniquely American creation.

    5. Cheez Whiz

    Cheez Whiz is a processed cheese product that comes in jars or spray cans, known for its bright orange color and spreadable consistency. In countries like France, where high-quality, artisanal cheeses are a national treasure, the concept of processed cheese is often met with bewilderment. Cheez Whiz, with its artificial flavor and texture, stands in stark contrast to the rich, complex flavors of traditional cheeses, making it an oddity for those who take their cheese seriously.

    6. Tater Tots

    Tater tots are small, grated, and fried potato bites that are a popular side dish in American cuisine. They are often served in school cafeterias, fast-food restaurants, and as a comfort food at home. While they may seem like a simple potato dish, the heavily processed nature of tater tots makes them unique to America. In many other countries, potatoes are typically served in more natural forms, such as mashed, boiled, or roasted, making tater tots a peculiar and distinctly American creation.

    7. Corn Dogs

    Corn dogs are hot dogs on a stick, coated in a thick layer of fried cornmeal batter. They are a staple at American fairs, amusement parks, and sports events. The combination of a sausage and sweet cornmeal batter is quite unique and can seem strange to those from countries where hot dogs are typically served in buns with savory toppings. The idea of eating a hot dog on a stick, covered in a sweet, fried batter, is a quintessentially American novelty that often surprises international visitors.

    8. Chicken and Waffles

    Chicken and waffles is a dish that pairs crispy fried chicken with sweet, fluffy waffles, drizzled with syrup or gravy. While chicken and waffles are not specifically American foods on their own, the combination is very much an American innovation. This sweet and savory pairing originated in the Southern United States and has become a popular brunch item. The idea of combining these two distinct foods can be confusing to those from cultures where such combinations are uncommon.


    These iconic American foods showcase the unique and diverse nature of American cuisine. While they may seem strange to people from other countries, they reflect the creativity and adaptability that defines American food culture. Whether it’s the sweet and savory mix of a PB&J sandwich or the unexpected pairing of chicken and waffles, these dishes offer a glimpse into the culinary traditions that make America unique.

    Elsie Bernier
    Elsie Bernier
    Elsie Bernier brings her passion for authentic Italian flavors to every slice at Fratello Pizzeria. With years of culinary expertise and a love for crafting the perfect pizza, Elsie has made Fratello's a haven for pizza enthusiasts seeking a taste of Italy right in their neighborhood.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Popular posts

    My favorites