Introducing some of the most popular eats and treats that the United States has to offer!
When you think of pizza as a national food Italy probably comes to mind, but in America pizza really has taken on a life of its own and is one of the country’s most popular foods. According to the publication ‘Pizza Today’ $38 billion are generated annually in pizza sales, with an average of 3 billion pizzas being sold. Across the United States there are 70,000 pizzerias, selling all varieties of pizza ‘pie’. Distinctive all-American examples of this European concept are the Chicago deep-dish, the pepperoni toped and the stuffed crust pizza.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
These are arguably the most iconic sweet treats to come out of the U.S. The story goes that the founder of Krispy Kreme, Vermon Rudolph, bought a secret yeast-raised dough recipe from a New Orleans French Chef in 1937 and started selling his doughnuts on the street. Two decades later there were fifty Krispy Kreme stores, and the number continued to multiply until there were stores in pretty much every state. The company’s signature doughnut is the ‘original glazed’, usually served warm. Over the years the variety of Krispy Kreme flavours has grown to include elaborate creations like Millionaire’s shortbread and the shockingly blue cotton candy doughnut.
Philly Cheese Steak
Although originally created in the Italian immigrant quarter of South Philadelphia, this mammoth sandwich has become hugely popular across the U.S. The sandwich is made with ‘chipped steak’ – steak which has been sliced incredibly thinly. The steak is cooked on a hot griddle before being topped with cheese. Once the cheese has melted the meat/cheese combo is served in a toasted or untoasted roll with traditional garnishes like fried onions. Most Philadelphians would claim that unless you are using an authentic Philadelphia roll (long, thin, and not fluffy or soft) your sandwich isn’t a Philly Cheese Steak.
Corn dogs are old school American street food, served by vendors large and small. The concept is really very simple, a cornmeal battered hotdog that’s been deep fried and put on a stick. A meat lolly pop if you will. Corn dogs have been eaten in the U.S. in one form or another since the 1920’s and had gained national popularity by the 1940’s. Over the decades the corn dog has become such an American institution that it even has its own national day, March 17th.
Jerky is a classic American snack food. Although it can be made from a variety of different meats, like turkey, beef jerky is far and away the most popular. It’s often taken on camping trips or eaten at sports games. It is thinly sliced lean beef which is dried out and has large amounts of salt added to it to prevent spoiling. Its brown colour and rough texture might make it seem unappealing but it has a distinctive, powerful flavour. Popular modern varieties of the long lasting snack include barbecue jerky, teriyaki jerky and spicy jerky.
Although Oreo’s are now being exported worldwide they are still synonymous with America and remain the country’s favourite, best selling biscuit. They first appeared on the market in 1912 as two chocolate biscuit discs with a crème filling sandwiching them together, and intrinsically they really haven’t changed. The design stamped onto the biscuit’s sides went through several alterations until the pattern the Oreo is now known for was patented in 1952. Over the past three decades many variations on the traditional Oreo have appeared, like fudge coated, peanut butter filled, double stuffed and event themed.
Twinkies are American confectionary Royalty. The snacks are marketed as ‘golden sponge cake with creamy filling’ and that’s really all they are. They were invented in 1930 and at that time the creamy filling was banana flavoured. During the Second World War bananas were rationed and the filling was swapped to vanilla flavoured instead. Since then the banana flavour has been reintroduced but vanilla remains the favourite. Some have criticised the Twinkie for having no nutritional value, others have discovered that they’re even tastier coated in batter and deep fried.
The bagel has traditionally been associated with New York City’s Jewish population, although other large cities with Jewish communities also have a long history of producing the distinctive bread product. Originally bagels were made from plain yeasted wheat dough and shaped into a ring by hand. In order to achieve their distinctive chewy texture they were first boiled in water for a short time and then baked. In Jewish/American cuisine a common bagel filling is cream cheese and smoked salmon (also known as schmear and lox). Over the years the popularity of bagels has exploded, and so has the amount of flavours, varieties and fillings available. Currently the market is being flooded with hybrid bagel creations, including the fragel (deep fried bagel), bretzel (bagel plus pretzel), bagelwich (bagel plus sandwich) and flagel (flat bagel).
‘As American as Apple Pie’ is an expression meaning ‘typically American’ and one most people have heard of. Despite the fact that apple pie started life as an English dessert, with recipes for it dating back 600 years, America has whole heartedly adopted the distinctive dish and is now well known for it. Over the years apple pie has become a symbol of prosperous America. The American version of apple pie is much sweeter than the original English creation (which contained no sugar and was often eaten with cheese).