American Foods That Baffle Foreigners

America often gets a bad rap from foreigners when it comes to our favorite foods. While we may be a bit biased we do have to admit that some of it is understandable, considering our love of deep frying everything and gorging at all-you-can-eat buffets. We certainly do have a few unhealthy options and odd flavor combinations that have us falling victim to seemingly unappetizing foods. There are some American foods, however, that one would be hard pressed to hate — and yet foreigners still do. From some of our iconic food brands, to our breakfast staples, to our holiday traditions, there are a few American foods out there that foreigners just don't get. While we might consider them normal, to non-Americans they are anything but. Whether they've tried it, or can't even stomach the thought of it, we rounded up the foods that Americans love that completely baffle foreigners. Which is fine because it means more for us!

Peanut butter

How can anyone hate peanut butter? Unless you have a severe allergy, peanut butter is amazing. It can be eaten on a sandwich, it makes celery palatable, it dresses up boring apple slices better, and it's even good on its own. Foreigners don't think it makes anything taste better, they think it's vile. It's along the lines of other American food that is either too salty, sweet, or apparently mushy. That's precisely why peanut butter is so great. It's salty, it's sweet, and the creaminess means you can lather it on things easily.

In America, we eat over a billion pounds of peanut butter a year. Other countries, not so much. In fact, there are countries where you will have trouble even locating the stuff. France, Italy, Argentina, Russia, and China are just a few that don't get what the fuss is all about. Which is fine, they can eat whatever it is they eat. We'll save ourselves a plane ticket and gorge on peanut butter in the homeland.

Sweet potato casserole

Sweet potato casserole is a Thanksgiving tradition that always manages to find its way to the holiday table. While it may seem odd to place a fluffy candy on top of a root vegetable, Americans have gone nuts over sweet potato casserole for decades. This sweet dish first appeared in an early 1900s cookbook commissioned by one of the first candy companies to produce sweets without an exuberant price tag, Angelus Marshmallows. It was an effort to introduce Americans to the concept of using marshmallows in everyday cooking, and once Americans got a taste of this casserole, they were hooked.

Not everyone is a fan of this tradition though. Foreigners can't seem to understand the deliciousness of taking something sweet, and putting something even sweeter on top of it. While they might think we're psycho for creating this dish, we're going to continue with tradition and keep on whipping it up every Thanksgiving. We're going to pair it with our turkey and cranberry sauce too because that's how we do dinner.

American cheese

Alright, so American cheese may technically not be cheese —  it's illegal to label it cheese even in the United States — but here in America we love the stuff. Slap it on a grilled cheese, melt it on a cheeseburger, put it on top of apple pie, or eat it slice by slice, whichever way you use it, American cheese is one of those guilty pleasures in life.

While it may be a guilty pleasure for us, foreigners think of it more like eating a slice of plastic. Sure, we admit that it's not the most legit cheese considering it contains so many additives, but plastic? Maybe they forgot to take the wrapper off. Or maybe they haven't had a classic American grilled cheese sandwich. A gooey, buttered white bread grilled cheese sandwich like mom used to make might change their opinion on the stuff. Next time one of your foreign friends comes over for dinner, sneak them one. They just might have a change of heart.

Cheez Whiz

Speaking of cheese, foreigners also hate America's beloved Cheez Whiz. Apparently to them it not only tastes like plastic, but it also tastes like cancer. Not exactly sure what that tastes like, but it is true that Cheez Whiz is not your average slice of cheese. Even we know that cheese that comes out of a can or is oddly spreadable right out of a jar can't be real cheese, but that's the beauty of it. Smother it on broccoli and kids will eat their vegetables. Pack it in a lunch and top it on crackers. It even makes for some killer nachos. Do with it what you will, it certainly makes life easier, and that's precisely the point. Cheez Whiz was Kraft's answer to ditching the labor intensive process of making cheese sauce and allowing it to be more readily available to the consumer. It's certainly not a healthy choice for day-to-day consumption, but we know that. It is, however, a tasty guilty pleasure. 

Sliced bread

The best thing since sliced bread is sliced bread, and America knows it. Walk into an American grocery store and you'll find bread isles loaded with sliced bread — baguettes and whole loaves are in the baked goods section. The concept of sliced bread is apparently lost on foreigners because they detest the stuff. One claimed it was too sweet, just like our hot dog buns and burger buns. It's true, some sliced bread in the supermarket can be sweet, but not all are created equal. Sliced bread is a glorious invention that makes life so much easier. Whip up a quick peanut butter and jelly or toss on some deli meat and cheese and you have lunch — it's as simple as that. Baguettes and loaves on the other hand require the extra step of slicing. There's already enough on your to-do list — load something delicious between two pieces of pre-sliced bread and call it a day.

Hershey's chocolate bars

How can foreigners not like Hershey's chocolate candy bars? It's chocolate! It may not be the highest quality chocolate, but it's at every check out stand and instantly entices Americans with its sweet, cravable flavor. Sweet, unfortunately, is not the flavor most foreigners get from eating this candy. According to Food and Wine, most foreigners don't find Hershey's chocolate appealing because many of them claim it tastes like vomit. I understand everyone's taste buds have their own perception of flavor, but come on now! Apparently the reason some foreigners may pick up that flavor is because Hershey's uses butyric acid in their chocolate, which as disgusting as it sounds, is in vomit — it's also in Parmesan cheese. By doing so, a certain tanginess is attributed to the chocolate. So it would appear that while we're picking up on sweet, they're picking up on butyric acid. That's fine foreigners, that leaves more Hershey's chocolate for us then.

Corn dogs

A corn dog is the quintessential fair food. A hot dog is covered in cornmeal batter then fried to perfection taking out the necessity of stuffing it into a bun. The best part is it can be eaten on a stick! The concept sounds pure genius, but if you're a foreigner that concept sounds, well foreign. According to Oola, one Australian said that corn dogs are nothing more than a disgusting hot dog wrapped in disgusting bread and fried, taking your dignity along with it. It's true, you may feel shame eating junk food, but not the corn dog. You can't go to a fair, walk by a street vendor, peruse the frozen isle, or pass by any place selling a corn dog and not instantly crave this food on a stick. It's simply a classic that can't be ignored. It may not be a healthy superfood, but it does satisfy a food craving (and sometimes serves up a hefty dose of nostalgia) and that is reason enough to indulge.

Chicken and waffles

Sweet, salty, fatty, savory, what's not to love here? The flavor combination of pairing crispy fried chicken on top of a waffle with melted butter that's lathered in syrup, and then topping all that off with a douse of hot sauce is what soul food is all about. From coast to coast, this Southern comfort staple is loved by Americans.

Once again, this is a delicacy lost on foreigners. According to Delish, foreigners just don't seem to understand chicken and waffles. Should it be paired with gravy or is syrup the way to go? While they may like the two separate, combine them and it suddenly becomes repulsive to non-Americans. This fact is baffling to those that love the dish. When done right, this mouthwatering meal has all the flavors you could want from your food. Better yet, there's no deciding if you want breakfast, lunch, or dinner because it satisfies all meals in a single dish. Now that's impressive.


Some dishes are simply sacred. Talk to anyone from the South and they'll tell you grits are one of them. Not to be confused with polenta, grits are made from white corn and have a fine, smooth texture. They taste incredible when infused with cheese, are a creole classic topped with seasoning and shrimp, and are a staple on every southern table.

This staple doesn't stop in the South, however. Its savory flavor has caused America to fall in love with it, but not foreigners. They don't really know what it is and they don't find it appetizing. One foreigner claimed it was like eating tiny rocks — but they thought tiny rocks might actually taste better. To be fair, that person may just have had bad grits. Cook grits wrong and they can have a rather rock-like consistency since the corn is still hard. Cook it right on the other hand, and you'll want grits for every meal.

Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts are revolting? That's what one foreigner claimed according to Business Insider. Beyond their flavor, they couldn't even understand why they were eaten for breakfast. How could this be? These perfectly toastable sweet pastries that come in a variety of flavors are producing nostalgic childhood memories one silver wrapper at a time. Made for the breakfast (but fine for any other time of day, if we're being honest), they are reason enough to get out of bed in the morning. Perhaps it's the sweetness of the pastries themselves that foreigners find revolting — or the strange consistency of the filling. Say what they want about this treat, but Americans have got to have their Pop Tarts. Even when junk food sales began to decline, Pop Tart sales still continued to climb. That's got to say something about the deliciousness of this breakfast treat. Maybe they just didn't have the right flavor. They should really try the brown sugar and cinnamon — it's one of the most popular flavors.

Bacon and eggs

Breakfast doesn't get any better than bacon and eggs, but only if you're in America. According to the Houston Press, this simple common American breakfast is weird to foreigners. If eggs and bacon isn't their thing, then what do foreigners like for breakfast? Apparently in France they would prefer a crossiant or baguette for breakfast. In Japan, a combination of rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, seaweed, and grilled fish is preferred. In Russia, a porridge-like food called Kasha is a popular breakfast staple. In Columbia they want an arepa, while those across the globe in India want chutneys and dips with their flatbread. While that all sounds good, when it's breakfast time in America, bacon and eggs is number one on the list. The smell of bacon alone wafting from the kitchen is enough to pull someone out of bed in the morning. Pair it with some fluffy eggs and you have the ideal breakfast combination.

Biscuits and gravy

Another morning favorite, biscuits and gravy is lost on foreigners. While it might not be the biscuits fault, the gravy is often found to be disgusting. That is, unless you're British. British people have their own idea about what constitutes as a biscuit. For them, a biscuit is more like our idea of a shortbread cookie. It's a hard baked good that was meant to be dipped into a warm beverage, like tea. American biscuits have a bread-like consistency with flaky, buttery layers.

It's not all about the biscuit though, it's also about the gravy. The typical gravy used to top American biscuits is more of a creamy gravy, whereas in Britain it's meat based. Talk to a British person about biscuits and gravy, and they're picturing something like shortbread cookies topped with brown gravy — we can see why that might sound sort of gross. Our version on the other hand, is a delicious meal made up of a freshly baked biscuit and a gravy worth savoring.

Root beer

Root beer may be an American favorite when it comes to soda, but foreigners think it tastes weird. While some may say it taste like wintergreen and licorice, for others it tastes like cough syrup. The reason for the medicinal comparison is most likely due to the fact that root beer was originally made from sassafras. In other countries, sassafras is often used in medicine. This explains why you will have a hard time trying to find root beer outside of the United States — people don't find the medicinal flavor appealing. Anyone who was ruined on cherry flavoring by being forced to swallow spoonfuls of cherry-flavored cough syrup as a child should understand. Although it should be noted that real sassafras is no longer used in root beer due to health concerns, root beer is made with a sassafras-like flavoring which is typically from a safrole-free extract. That hasn't stopped Americans from downing the stuff though.

Lots of ice

How can you hate lots of ice? It makes drinks super cold and delicious. Here in America, we love to load our large cups with tons of ice, which is a concept that foreigners just don't get. In other countries, if you want to load up on ice you have to ask for it. According to Smithsonian, some question whether or not the ice is dirty. Others feel cheated out of the quantity of their beverage. Then there are countries that prefer warm drinks altogether, like Turkey. Apparently in Turkey they would rather drink a warm beverage on a hot day because it helps induce sweat, thus cooling the body — at least in theory. Whichever reason they choose, that's not going to stop Americans from loading up their drinks with a heaping helping of ice. We'll just have to be more vocal about our ice preference when traveling across seas.

Frito pie

We can admit, some American foods can cause a head scratching reaction to the uninitiated. We've come up with some interesting combinations that sound questionable — like the Frito pie. With a name like that alone it makes sense that foreigners would be skeptical of eating it. Taking a bag of corn chips and loading it with a pile of chili, along with who knows what else, can sound like a weird combination. When it's late at night and you've had a couple rounds though, Frito pie begins to make sense. While New Mexico and Texas may not agree about who actually created the Frito pie, we should at least acknowledge that the person who did was a genius. This is a staple that has found its way from the concession stands and fairs to home kitchens. Frito pie, you might have a bad reputation abroad, but America loves you.