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16 American Foods That Gross Out the Rest of the World

16 American Foods That Gross Out the Rest of the World

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Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ranch dressing, and Twinkies—these are just a few of the iconic American foods that have become synonymous with American culture. However, what might be a beloved childhood snack or nostalgic comfort food for Americans can often elicit reactions of bewilderment and even disgust from people in other parts of the world. It appears the vast melting pot of American cuisine doesn’t always translate seamlessly across borders.

Naturally, taste is subjective, and what one person savors, another might find unpleasant. But there’s no denying that certain American culinary creations have amassed a reputation for being particularly off-putting to international palates. From the artificial ingredients to the sheer abundance of sugar and fat, some American foods simply don’t align with the culinary traditions and tastes of other cultures.

These American foods have raised eyebrows, wrinkled noses, and even sparked controversy among international audiences.

1. Root Beer: A Medicinal Mystery

Refreshing Root Beer Float
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Root beer, a sweet, carbonated beverage with a distinct flavor profile, is a quintessentially American treat. However, its unique taste, often likened to medicine or toothpaste by international tasters, is a major turn-off for many foreigners.

This aversion to root beer likely stems from its unusual flavor combination, which includes ingredients like sassafras, wintergreen, and licorice. While these flavors might evoke nostalgia for Americans, they can be overwhelming and even off-putting to those unaccustomed to the taste.

2. American Cheese: A Processed Paradox

American cheese
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American cheese, a processed cheese product known for its smooth texture and mild flavor, is a staple in American households. However, its artificial ingredients and unnaturally bright orange hue have made it a target of criticism from food purists and international audiences alike.

While its convenience and appeal to children might be acknowledged, the artificial nature and one-dimensional flavor profile often fall short for those who appreciate the rich nuances and textures found in more artisanal cheeses.

3. Pop-Tarts: A Sugar-laden Start to the Day?

Strawberry Pop Tarts for sale on a grocery store shelf. Made by Nabsico
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Pop-Tarts, those sugary, rectangular pastries filled with frosting and fruit-flavored filling, are a breakfast staple for many Americans. However, their excessive sugar content, artificial ingredients, and questionable nutritional value have raised eyebrows among health-conscious individuals and those accustomed to more savory breakfast options.

Most haters have pointed out their “overly sweet” taste and lack of nutritional quality. Their sugary nature and processed ingredients also make them a less appealing choice for those seeking a more wholesome start to their day.

4. Spray Cheese: Culinary Curiosity or Culinary Crime?

Cheez whiz pimiento cheese
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Spray cheese, a canned cheese product known for its pressurized delivery system and often artificial flavor, is a convenient option for quick snacks and sandwiches. However, its ultra-processed nature, artificial ingredients, and questionable texture have earned it a spot on the “disgusting” list for many foreigners.

Its lack of resemblance to traditional cheeses and bright orange color is a deterrent to many non-Americans. While it may be a convenient option for some, its processed nature and often unappetizing appearance fail to impress those who value the authentic flavors and textures of natural cheeses.

5. Biscuits and Gravy: A Savory Surprise

Biscuits and gravy
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Biscuits and gravy, a hearty breakfast dish consisting of fluffy biscuits smothered in a creamy, savory sausage gravy, is a Southern American classic. However, its rich, heavy nature and unfamiliar combination of flavors can be a shock to the uninitiated.

This aversion to biscuits and gravy likely stems from the unfamiliarity of the dish and its perceived heaviness. Its richness and unique flavor profile can also be overwhelming and even unpleasant to those with different culinary backgrounds.

6. Cereal Marshmallows: A Sweet Start or Sugar Shock?

Sugary Sweet Marshmallow Only Cereal
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Cereal marshmallows, those colorful, sugary bits that often accompany breakfast cereals, are a childhood favorite for many Americans. However, their excessive sweetness, synthetic colors, and shady nutritional value have raised concerns among health-conscious individuals and those accustomed to less sugary breakfast options.

While they may be a fun and nostalgic treat for some, their sugary nature and artificial ingredients make them a less appealing choice for those seeking a balanced and wholesome breakfast.

7. Candy Corn: A Controversial Confection

Colorful Candy Corn for Halloween
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Candy corn, a tri-colored candy with a waxy texture and a vaguely sweet, buttery flavor, is a staple of Halloween celebrations in the United States. However, its polarizing taste and artificial ingredients have earned it a reputation as one of the most divisive candies in existence.

Even though some enjoy its sweetness and nostalgia factor, others find it cloying and unappealing. Its association with Halloween, a holiday not universally celebrated, may also contribute to its lack of popularity in some parts of the world.

8. Ranch Dressing: A Divisive Dip

Ranch dressing with carrots and celery
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Ranch dressing, a creamy, tangy dressing made with buttermilk, mayonnaise, and herbs, is a ubiquitous condiment in American cuisine. However, its strong flavor and often heavily dairy-based ingredients have made it a controversial choice for many non-Americans.

It may be a beloved dip, dressing, and topping for many Americans, but its strong taste and processed ingredients can be repulsive to those accustomed to more subtle and natural flavors.

9. Corn Dogs: A Fairground Favorite or a Fried Frankenfood?

Corn dog with mustard
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Corn dogs, hot dogs dipped in corn batter and deep-fried on a stick, are a popular treat at fairs and sporting events across the United States. However, their combination of processed meat, fried batter, and stick-to-your-ribs quality can be a culinary turn-off for those used to more refined or health-conscious fare.

The hatred of corn dogs comes from their perceived unhealthiness and unusual combination of ingredients. While they may be a nostalgic treat for some, their fried nature and processed ingredients make them a less appealing choice for those seeking a more balanced and nutritious snack.

10. Grits: A Southern Staple or a Bland Concoction?

Homemade Shrimp and Grits
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Grits, a porridge-like dish made from boiled cornmeal, is a staple of Southern American cuisine. However, its bland flavor and mushy texture can be unappetizing to those unfamiliar with the dish.

Foreigners dislike grits mostly because they lack flavor and have an unfamiliar texture. Its plain nature and porridge-like consistency can also be off-putting to those accustomed to more flavorful and texturally diverse dishes.

11. Chicken and Waffles: A Breakfast Conundrum

Homemade Southern Chicken and Waffles
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Chicken and waffles, a dish that combines fried chicken with waffles and is often drizzled with maple syrup, is a culinary curiosity that has garnered both ardent fans and staunch cynics. While it may be a brunch staple in some parts of the United States, its unusual pairing of sweet and savory flavors can be a perplexing combination for those familiar with more traditional breakfast fare.

The aversion to chicken and waffles likely stems from the clash of flavors and textures. While some Americans relish the combination of crispy chicken, fluffy waffles, and sweet syrup, others find it to be an odd and unappetizing mix. The dish’s popularity is largely regional, with origins tracing back to soul food cuisine in the southern United States.

12. Sloppy Joes: A Messy Meal

Homemade BBQ Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
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Sloppy Joes, a loose meat sandwich typically made with ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and a sweet and tangy sauce, are a childhood favorite for many Americans. However, their messy nature and often overly sweet flavor profile can be off-putting to those accustomed to more refined or savory sandwiches.

They are mostly despised for their unappealing appearance and oddly sweet taste. Even though they may be a nostalgic comfort food for some, their loose filling and saccharine sauce can be unappetizing to those who prefer a more tidy and balanced sandwich experience.

13. Meatloaf: A Culinary Mystery Meat

Homemade ground meatloaf
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Meatloaf, a baked dish typically made with ground meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, and various seasonings, is a classic American comfort food. However, its often-bland flavor, mushy texture, and unappetizing appearance have earned it a reputation as a “mystery meat” among some international diners.

While it can be enhanced with various sauces and seasonings, its basic form and unappetizing appearance can be off-putting to those who prefer more flavorful and visually appealing dishes.

14. Deep-Fried Butter: A Decadent Delight or Dietary Disaster?

disgusted woman in her kitchen redhead
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Deep-fried butter, as the name suggests, is a stick of butter that has been coated in batter and deep-fried. This calorie-laden concoction is a popular fair food in the United States, but its sheer decadence and questionable nutritional value have made it a target of criticism from health-conscious individuals and those with more restrained palates.

The aversion to deep-fried butter likely stems from its excessive fat content and lack of culinary value. It may be a guilty pleasure for some, but its over-the-top nature and potential health risks make it a less appealing choice for those seeking a more sensible and nutritious snack.

15. Macaroni and Cheese: A Childhood Favorite or a Cheese Overload?

Macaroni and cheese
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Macaroni and cheese, a creamy pasta dish made with macaroni noodles and cheese sauce, is an adored comfort food for many Americans. However, its rich, cheesy nature can be overwhelming for those accustomed to more subtle flavors and lighter pasta dishes.

While it may be a nostalgic favorite for some, its high-fat content and processed ingredients can be a turn-off for those seeking a balanced and wholesome meal.

16. Pumpkin Pie Spice: A Seasonal Sensation or a Spice Rack Overkill?

A piece of pumpkin pie on a black plate. The concept of a festive treat of the autumn harvest. Close-up. In the frame, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin, pie.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Pumpkin pie spice, a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, is synonymous with autumn in the United States. However, its pervasive presence in everything from lattes to candles to air fresheners during the fall season can be overwhelming for those who don’t share the same seasonal enthusiasm.

It’s mostly disliked for its overuse and association with a specific season. Some Americans eagerly anticipate its arrival each fall, while foreigners find its omnipresence to be excessive and artificial. Its strong, sweet flavor can also be off-putting to those who prefer more subtle or savory spices.

12 American Habits That Baffle International Visitors

man thinking confused not sorry
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The United States of America is known for its diverse mix of cultures, history, and ideas ( a melting pot), which contribute to unique social norms and customs.

While some of these norms are acceptable or expected by American society, they may puzzle others or clash with those of other countries. It may leave foreigners who visit the U.S. or follow the news scratching their heads in confusion- feeling totally baffled and in disbelief.

12 American Habits That Baffle International Visitors

15 Common American Sayings That Foreigners Can’t Comprehend

confused person having a conversation coffee cup friends
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English, the global lingua franca, is full of quirks and idiosyncrasies that can baffle even the most seasoned language learner. American English, in particular, is rife with colorful sayings and idioms that often leave foreigners scratching their heads in confusion. From baseball-inspired metaphors to regional slang, these expressions can be a source of amusement and frustration for those trying to navigate the intricacies of American conversation.

15 Common American Sayings That Foreigners Can’t Comprehend

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