The Truth About TikTok's 'Americacore' Food Trend

There's a fine line between appreciation of another culture and outright appropriation, and as long as there have been social media influencers, they've been dancing all over that line. Most don't go quite as far as self-proclaimed "barefoot bohemian" Jenny Niezgoda, a travel blogger who Mitu says tried to crowd-fund a proposed "modern fruteria" in a historically Mexican-American San Diego community back in 2017. The community didn't exactly welcome this, with many calling out the project as tone-deaf and a mark of gentrification. Still, as Mashable points out, when American influencers post a video where they visit a Korean grocery chain such as H-Mart to buy chips, it's about as novel to a Korean-American or Korean audience as picking up a bag of Lay's sour cream and onion chips at Safeway.

Well, obviously more than a few TikTokers were able to appreciate the irony in this, and thus was born a new trend: Americacore.

Americacore isn't quite sure who it's poking fun at

On one level, Americacore videos are obviously meant to mimic videos fetishizing East Asian lifestyles, particularly anything associated with Japan or Korea. In a video where one TikToker visited a gas station they said might have been called "WeWa" (or possibly "WeeWee"), they made sure to translate "SO CUTE" for viewers as "kawaii in American." Another TikToker referred to a Twizzler, used as part of her "Pink Americacore snack," as "rubber pocky."

Apart from ragging on fetishization, though, the videos were also obviously making fun of American culture, with their emphasis on processed foods (The Tiktok video of a Slurpee with edible candy straw) and overly-patriotic products (the TikTok Safeway tour with its Fourth of July flag-wrapped carnations). Not all Americacore videos revolve around foods, either, as one showing sped-up country-western dancing, per TikTok) and another provided a video tour of a "cute American laundromat" set to "Achy Breaky Heart," the tongue-in-cheek soundtrack to more than one Americacore video.

Americacore might actually exist

Americacore is a phenomenon that has actually existed in other cultures for quite some time, to an extent. Elvis Presley has long been huge in Japan, with the Everett Herald reporting that the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went on a tour of Graceland in 2006 with then-President George Bush. In Germany, they look even further back in American history. History News Network says some Germans love cosplaying Wild West cowboys, while The Atlantic says some also enjoy reenacting American Civil War battles.

Even some of the videos tagged #americacore acknowledge other countries' legit interest in all things American, with one Tiktoker in Germany filming store shelves filled with products either imported from the U.S. or meant as American-style knockoffs, and another TikToker showing all the American products for sale in Scotland (via TikTok). So what was originally meant as irony turns out to be not as ironic as intended? Wow, that's some reverse double irony right there!