Globalized, globalized, we tend to see America everywhere. America would have eaten us, sucked us to the marrow, would have imposed its customs, its products and its rites on us while destroying ours. Except that the United States is a land of emigration and cultural mixing and that many products and rituals considered today as typically American actually have a European or South American origin. In fact, the guys collect stuff and sell it on their own. It’s smart.
The thing passes for the most typically American holiday in the world, with perhaps Thanksgiving because in France, Thanksgiving we still haven’t really understood what it was. Except that in fact Halloween is originally a pagan holiday from the Anglo-Celtic Islands. The name Halloween comes from a contraction of All Hallow-Even which, in Old English, would translate as “the eve of All Saints’ Day”. For the Celts, Halloween served more or less as a new year. The holiday was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland or Wales. The party was introduced to the North American continent following the massive arrival of Irish people in the United States after the great famine of the 1840s. From the 1920s, the party became super popular and the turnips which served as decorations in Jack o’Lantern are replaced by pumpkins.
We know that it was Levi Strauss (not Claude, huh) who invented jeans in the 1860s in California to provide miners and workers with sturdy pants for work. Levi Strauss had come from Bavaria in 1847 and made his model from fabrics purchased from an English company. In short, the jeans were indeed born on American territory, but were created by a German from English fabric. A beautiful melting pot.
The image of the cowboy with his lasso is intrinsically linked to the modern representation of the wild west. Except that the vaqueros, these farm boys who guarded the cows with their hat against the sun, their lasso and their horse are as old as the world. It was in Spain that we find the first models of the genre, which then emigrated to the great plains of Mexico or Argentina. This organization of the breeding has, from Mexico, reached Texas, then all the West of the United States.
4. The hot dog
More American than the hot dog, you die. Except that the little sandwich actually originated in Germany. It was the German butchers who immigrated to the United States who developed on American soil the use of the bun with its Frankfurt sausage inside. And its modern version, with ketchup and pearl onions, was invented by Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant who came to Coney Island to set up a small stand.
5. The American Pie
Beyond the fact that the Greeks and Romans already ate savory pies in antiquity, the sweet pie-like pie and closed on top appears in 17th century English cookbooks. At the same time, uncovered apple pies were born in 1589. As a result, the Americans just inherited a recipe that probably already existed everywhere and added the adjective “American” to it in anticipation of an upcoming movie.
6. The Kit Kat
King of the snacks of the 80s quite quickly competed by many other brands, the Kit Kat can only be American given its globalized character, right? Except that in reality the Kit Kat was invented in England, in York, in the 1930s, before being sold in London. In 1937, the chocolate bar took the name of Kit Kat and began to be exported to the rest of the world from the 1970s. In the process, Nestlé (a Swiss brand) bought the brand and moved production to Japan to cut corners on costs. Nothing American, then.
7. Peanut butter
Peanut Butter. Peanut butter. Incomprehension. The most popular thing among Americans does not take in Europe where, globally, everyone finds it disgusting. Probably a cultural bias. Weird, then, because the first people to make peanut butter were the Incas. Ok, the Incas lived on American soil, but not sure that we can really compare American society to that of the Incas. As for its manufactured version, we owe it to Marcellus Edson who, in 1884, made the first peanut paste in Canada. It was later that the process was taken up and improved by American chemists, the final version of the product being invented by Joseph Rosefield in 1922.
8. The Budweiser
The most popular and disgusting beer in the United States is Czech. It began to be imported into the United States in 1871. As a result, Americans thought there was a market and created a competing brand of the same name in 1876. If the American version of the Bud is well born in Saint-Louis, it is in fact a carbon copy of European know-how.
9. The burger
The name “hamburger” comes from Hamburg (it is part of the words derived from a city name). The sandwich was therefore born in Bavaria, where it was made with two round-shaped loaves with minced meat and raw vegetables. It was German immigrants who brought the recipe to America in the middle of the 19th century. Initially, the word “hamburger” mainly referred to the steak, before encompassing the whole dish. And if you are absolute fans of this dish, we have selected the best burger accessories for you.
10. Johnny Hallyday
We often think that Johnny Hallyday is an American who made his career in France, like Joe Dassin. No, I know that we don’t think so at all and that everyone knows that he is French of Belgian origin and is called Jean-Philippe Smet. But that hasn’t always been the case.