America’s Favorite Foods: Some Things Never Change

Americans are an interesting mix of cultures and foodies. We love sushi, Chinese and Mexican food, Italian restaurants, and designer coffee drinks, but when you get to the bottom of it, there are few surprises. We buy the same basic products that have existed for decades, mainly because we grew up with them, they are served in school cafeterias and are around every corner.

Overall, there are no surprises here and this list has changed little in decades, so let’s start with the America’s Top Ten Favorite Foods (no vegetables in sight):

Burgers: Ever since the first White Castle opened, we’ve been hooked
Hot Dogs – American food
Fries – can’t do much to improve these
Oreo Cookies: Chocolate chip cookie lovers will disagree
Pizza: many ingredients, but the base remains the same
Soft drinks: as a nation, we consume them throughout the day (not technically a food, but good)
Chicken Tenders: We know which fast food chain started it all
Ice Cream – Thank enthusiastic President Thomas Jefferson for this
Donuts – breakfast of champions
French fries: our favorite snack, hands down
Mac and cheese (yes, Thomas Jefferson introduced this too)
Apple pie: it has existed in some form for centuries

Drinks without alcohol:

Queues – since the first soda fountain opened, they have maintained their status
Lemon/Lime Drinks – Ever since Americans discovered lemons, a fizzy variation on good lemonade
Dr Pepper – First considered a medicinal tonic (similar to cola), it still has a loyal following.

Fruit:

Berries – since man started collecting wild berries in the forest (it’s nonsense, some surveys will argue that they are bananas or apples)
Apples: easy to grow and transport
Bananas – no washing required
Grapes – Cost may vary, but it’s still wonderful, especially seedless

Vegetables:

Broccoli: there are serious doubts here, but some surveys insist
Corn: Probably America’s First Native Vegetable and It Still Lives Up
Potatoes – Due in large part to potato chips and fries.
Tomatoes: the base of ketchup (our favorite condiment) and many other foods
Green beans: what’s not to like?

candy (No wonder the top five are all chocolate-based):

M&Ms pretty even with
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Snickers – peanuts, caramel – nougat – best of all
Hershey’s – Milk Chocolate Bar – can’t beat that
Kit Kats – crispy and fun
Candy corn – on Halloween, for sure

ice cream flavors:

Cookies N’ Cream: part of the Oreo trend
Chocolate – Just a continuation of America’s love affair with chocolate.
Mint Chocolate Chip – Refreshing
Vanilla: so versatile and the base of many delicacies
Cookie Dough – A Relative Newcomer Compared to the Original Vanilla

Unlike most categories, cost plays an important role with Seafood:

Shrimp, which still tops the list, would certainly see much higher consumption if the price were lower.
Salmon: a distant second (but by far the most popular restaurant order)
Tuna: loved for filling sandwiches and also for dining out
Tilapia – Often criticized as “dirty”, still profitable, light and easy to prepare

Best seller cold cereals:

Cheerios – both Honey Nut and plain
Frosted Flakes: sugar already added to old fashioned cornflakes
Mini-Wheats – also shredded wheat – sugar coated and smaller in size than original
Special K – Touted as a “diet” food, we can still fool ourselves if we don’t add sugar

and in starbucksthe Frappuccino rule:

Triple Mocha Frappuccino: You Just Can’t Have Too Much Chocolate
Frappuccino coffee – the staple that started it all
Double Chocolaty Chip Creme Frappuccino – It’s getting a bit complicated here
Caffè Mocha – beats lattes – you have to have that chocolate shot

So there you have it. As a foodie nation, we are still conservative and stuck in a rut, clinging to our old standards of convenience, cost, habit, and just plain good taste. But we don’t love living vicariously when we watch cooking shows, devour cookbooks, and feel adventurous when we frequent ethnic restaurants. Although it is a diverse country of many origins and cuisines, the foods themselves stand the test of time. and we may not be into haute cuisine but we definitely enjoy our native foods to the fullest. And that’s fine with us.

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