21 Weird American Eating Habits


While many of these things that we are going to list are just everyday things to Americans, you would be surprised how strange they look to people from other nations. But that’s the beauty of America – we write out own rules when it comes to what we eat and how we it eat! When it comes to anything really!


One of the things that continues to baffle visitors to the United States is the ridiculous portion sizes of American food, whether it’s in a fast food chain, a diner or even in some upscale restaurants. Even at home, Americans tend to make their portions very large, compared to the rest of the world. There has been much talk about this issue over the past decade, especially in lieu of the increasing obesity epidemic in the United States.

The question of portion sizes is considered by some to be a myth and by others to be the absolute truth. While it is true that a cheeseburger or a milkshake will be larger in a fast food chain restaurant in America than in the same chain somewhere else in the world, say, in Europe, it is also true that super-sized portions are becoming something of a stereotype about Americans.



Americans love their mayonnaise and they are not afraid to use it on pretty much everything they can think of. Well, they wouldn’t put it on desserts or fruit, of course. After all, they are not insane. But they are big fans of mayo.

In America, you can find mayo on French fries, in subs and other sandwiches (even those containing peanut butter, bananas and other things that really, really shouldn’t mix with mayo), on meat, potatoes, salads, raw or cooked veggies, hotdogs, spread on bread, biscuits and god knows where else. Some people even put it on their pizza, for crying out loud. And while in matters of taste there can be no dispute, it’s worth remembering that mayo is not exactly healthy. It increases the levels of bad cholesterol, it is made of oil and raw eggs – which always comes with a risk of salmonella – and its loaded with salt.



Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Sandwiches make terrific breakfast, lunch or even dinner food, and Americans seem to be on a mission to invent a perfect sandwich that can substitute an entire meal. And it might actually be a good idea! It’d be convenient, quick, easy and nutritious just like a “regular” meal.

The art of making a great sandwich is something that Americans really excel at. They are careful about the kind of bread they are using, the spread, toppings and condiments are carefully balanced in terms of both flavor and nutrition. You get your carbs from the bread, your protein from peanut butter, cheese and deli meats, vitamins from tomatoes, peppers, onions and lettuce and if you drizzle some olive oil or add some tuna you even get your Omega 3 fatty acids.

While in most other countries of the world a sandwich means two, maybe three ingredients, in America it can have a dozen, substituting an entire meal.



Aside from Chinese cuisine, which of course everyone enjoys, the combination of sweet and savory flavors is not something people usually like having on their dinner table. Unless they’re Americans, in which case it’s one of the favorite combos ever.

Americans love bringing together food items and flavors that are not generally perceived as compatible. Pineapple and ham on pizza aside (by now pretty much the entire world is accustomed to this weirdness), in America you can find strange combinations like sausage or bacon covered in maple syrup, jello salads, chicken and waffles, sodas over dinner and marshmallows on almost everything.

It’s not just the combination of food items that are sweet with those that are savory – it’s also that sugar can be found in foods where it most definitely doesn’t belong, like salads, bread, potatoes, casseroles, pasta and almost every kind of processed food.



Americans, like the rest of the world, are very fond of bread and use it throughout the day as a side dish or in the form of a sandwich. However, American bread is quite unique compared to the rest of the world. First of all, it’s almost always soft. In other countries, bread can also be soft but it usually has a crispy or even chewy crust and a soft, delicious inside. In America, it’s all one big lump of mushy softness.

Second, it comes in a plastic bag, which makes sense, because without a bag it would dry up and wouldn’t be soft anymore. Third, even though the crust is unnervingly soft, many people opt to cut it off, as if it were too much to handle or too tough to chew. This makes the whole American bread deal even stranger. Also, the bread is usually white, although rye and other varieties are becoming increasingly more popular.


6. PB&J

This one is so widely present in the everyday American life that it’s definitely no longer weird even to foreigners. Of course, the fact that PB&J, or peanut butter and jelly (or jam) sandwich, is so delicious makes up for the initial strangeness of the combination. Depending on the type of bread and other ingredients you use, this can actually be a very good, healthy way to start a day.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich has for a long time been a favorite kids’ lunch. It’s convenient and easy to make and all the kids love it. A survey conducted back in 2002 found that by the time they reach high school, American children will have eaten an average of 1,500 of PB&Js. A similar sandwich, called fluffernutter, is just as equally popular and even weirder – it’s made with marshmallow fluff instead of jam or jelly.



For most non-Americans, this is one of the greatest food abominations the man has ever conjured. Cheese pretty much venerated in some countries as the ultimate delicacy and a very serious food item that shouldn’t be messed with. Of course, Americans love their specialty cheese and they are increasingly getting interested in high quality cheese, but spray cheese remains one of their favorite, omnipresent forms of this particular dairy product.

Spray cheese is, as we all know, exactly what its name says – cheese in a spray bottle. However, the name is a bit misleading, as the cheese doesn’t come out in form of actual aerosol, but as a smooth paste that can be spread on some bread or crackers, or sprayed directly into the mouth, which is the preferred mode of consumption for many. This cheese is, of course, extremely processed and contains many additives that give it its consistency, namely calcium phosphate.



TV dinners are today far less popular than they were some fifty years ago, when first manufacturers started producing these prepackaged, ready-made meals, but there are still a lot of Americans who eat them at least occasionally.

A TV dinner is basically an entire meal packaged into one single container, chilled or frozen, that is prepared simply by opening and heating the contents. It usually contains a slice of meat, some side veggies, maybe some rice, and dessert, usually a brownie or a cobbler. The whole point of a TV dinner is to make life easier for single people, usually men, who don’t have the time, energy or the skills to prepare an actual homemade meal. As its name suggests, a TV dinner is usually eaten while watching television. It’s a bit of a depressive concept, but it worked for millions of Americans, and for many it still does.



When you think of ice cream floats, especially root beer floats, it makes you wonder how and why in the world would anyone even think of putting ice cream in soda. It just doesn’t make any sense when you think of it, and yet, once you try it (that first time is the toughest, you almost have to force yourself) you find yourself strangely addicted to it. Ice cream floats have been around for almost 150 years in America and it looks like they are not going anywhere.

There are several popular varieties of ice cream float, but most of them contain the same basic ingredients – ice cream and soda, or, alternatively, ice cream and carbonated water with some kind of flavored syrup. One of the most popular floats is root beer float, made with, you guessed it, root beer and vanilla ice cream.



Rocky Mountain Oysters. Sounds exquisite! But wait, Rocky Mountains are nowhere near the ocean, so how can there be any oysters there? That’s because they’re not really oysters. They just kind of look like oysters, but they’re not. They’re testicles.

Yes, you read that right. Rocky Mountain Oysters is an American dish made of pig, sheep or bull testicles, usually deep-fried and served as appetizers. They are highly appreciated as a delicacy in Canada, where they are called “prairie oysters,” and in the American West, where cattle ranching is still a thing.

However, eating testicles is not exclusively an American thing. These organs are a relatively common dish in many countries of the world, so it’s not really fair that the Americans get the weird rep for this.



It’s virtually impossible to go to a ball game, a carnival or an amusement park without having at least one corn dog. It’s an American classic that has almost become a pop-culture item. For those who are not exactly sure what a corndog is, it’s a hot dog on a stick coated in cornmeal batter. It looks like a salty, greasy popsicle. It’s usually eaten with mustard and/or ketchup.

Hot dogs, wieners and wursts are a regular thing all over the world. Everyone loves them and you can get them almost anywhere. However, no one except for Americans ever thought of putting them on a stick, covered in thick layer of cornmeal, which is probably why the rest of the world finds corndogs so weird. But if you think about it, better yet – if you try a corndog, you’ll understand the appeal. The combination really works quite well, and it’s convenient and easy to eat on the go.



This is one really disturbing trend that’s been going on for a while in the United States. The Americans’ love of fries, chips and other goodies that come from a deep pan full of boiling oil is well-known and documented. Who can blame them? Fried food is delicious. However, we all know it’s not very healthy and that regular consumption can cause serious health issues. So we try to cut down on deep-fried stuff. Except when we’re offered a deep-fried pickle. That’s basically impossible to resist.

It may seem that the trend of deep-frying foods that really, really shouldn’t be deep-fried started as a joke or a dare, but that was probably not the case. Whatever the origins, today we have specialized bars and restaurants dedicated to the fine art of deep-frying anything from pickles, olives and jalapenos to Snickers bars, Oreos, jelly beans, pizza, burgers and even soda!



This one keeps baffling foreign visitors and tourists in the United States – you pay for one drink, but you get unlimited refills for as long as you want (in one sitting, of course). How does that make sense? It may seem illogical from a practical, economic point of view, but it has to make sense, otherwise no establishment would ever offer free refills.

Free refills generally apply and are usually limited to sodas and coffee. Considering most diners and fast food establishments have a soda fountain, it probably doesn’t hurt them a lot financially to offer free refills to their patrons.

This practice may be weird but it’s extremely appreciated, even though it’s not very healthy. Sodas are full of sugar and excessive consumption of coffee is not recommended either. But hey, it’s free stuff! No wonder no one really says no to free refills.



Another thing that the foreigners in United States have noted when it comes to eating and drinking is that there is a lot of sugar in American food. It’s like there is sugar in everything, even in foods that are really not supposed to have any. Bread is sweet, salad dressings are sweet, there’s sugar in gravy, sauces, pastas, casseroles, roasts, even in some burgers. Not to mention there is a ton of hidden sugars in almost every kind of processed food you can purchase in America.

Adding sugar to food is a slippery slope. Sugar can enhance and improve the taste of any dish, so it’s really hard to resist doing it. As the time goes by, the nation’s collective taste is formed in a certain direction, in this case towards the slightly sweet flavor. And this habit is getting harder and harder to kick.



Again, this is not an exclusively a USA thing but Americans do tend to eat more ice cream in the winter than most other nations. In some parts of the world, ice cream is a definite no-no because people are probably afraid of getting a sore throat or some kind of cold. But Americans eat tons of ice cream in the winter and they don’t get sick because of it, so what’s the deal then?

Ice cream is meant to be a refreshment in the hot summer days, something to cool us off. For some people it makes little sense to eat it in the winter when there is snow (pretty much unflavored ice cream) all around. But ice cream is also incredibly delicious, so why would we deny ourselves this pleasure during not so hot months? Americans got this right and by creating a habit of eating ice cream even when it’s cold they basically immunized themselves from getting a sore throat from a sundae in December.



Another beloved American classic and an all-time staple for workday dinners of most American families, mac and cheese is a dish that continues to baffle people coming from outside the United States with its simplicity, omnipresence and, according to some, its grossness.

Macaroni and cheese, or simply mac and cheese, is not an exclusively American dish, of course, but its popularity in the United States is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The main ingredients are macaroni pasta (other kinds of pasta can be used but macaroni are preferred) and cheese mixed with béchamel sauce. Breadcrumbs are optional but preferred. Cheese is usually cheddar, which gives the dish a characteristic orange color.

Mac and cheese can be prepared from scratch but many Americans prefer the ready-made products that just need to be baked or simply heated. It’s precisely the ready-made version of the dish that keeps grossing out foreigners, probably because nothing about it seems natural or even edible.



The word “salad” seems to have a different meaning in the United States. While in most other countries a salad is a dish made with fresh veggies as the main or the sole ingredient, and not much else, in America there are all sorts of things added to a salad, and the main one is the dressing. Americans can’t seem to wrap their minds around the idea of a salad without a dressing (salt, pepper and olive oil don’t count).

The most popular salad dressing is by far the Ranch dressing, a weird, kind of gross concoction based on, you guessed it, mayonnaise. Italian and French dressings are also popular, and so are Thousand Islands dressing and honey mustard. All of them can be made from scratch but it’s apparently so much easier to simply buy a bottle of each in a supermarket and have them in your fridge waiting for your next salad.



In United States there is simply no discussion about this one – dinner is the main meal of the day and it’s the richest and the biggest one. You can eat whatever you want for breakfast and lunch, but these are all “secondary” meals. It’s the dinner that counts, especially for families with a stay-at-home mom. Dinner is important not just for nutrition – it’s the meal that brings the family together at the table. It also has an important social role. In America, you don’t invite people over to your house for lunch, but for dinner.

This is mainly due to the working schedule of most Americans who come home from work in the late afternoon or early evening, just in time for dinner. In Europe, for example, dinner is usually a light meal while the lunch is the biggest and the most substantial.



In most countries of the world, when people think about caffeine, they usually think coffee, tea and energy drinks. They don’t think of “soft drinks” because why would they contain caffeine? Except, of course, for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which are so widely consumed that even a baby in a remote village in Mongolia knows that they have caffeine. Plus, it’s black, which kind of serves as an indicator.

In United States, however, if you are being careful about your caffeine intake, you have to be careful what you drink when it comes to soft drinks, especially carbonated ones, or sodas. Some of them actually contain caffeine, which is clearly stated on the label. People outside of US sometimes find it difficult to get accustomed to the fact that an orange-flavored, brightly colored beverage may contain caffeine, but that’s the way it is.



You know how they say that you should always have a good, hearty breakfast that will keep you fueled for the entire morning? Well, there’s no heartier breakfast that biscuits and gravy, Unfortunately, hearty doesn’t necessarily mean “good for your heart,” and in this case, it definitely doesn’t.

This typically Southern dish is undeniably delicious, but let’s face it – it’s not exactly the healthiest thing you can eat for breakfast. It is made of buttermilk scones or biscuits, drenched in white gravy made from sausage drippings with an addition of flour and milk, among other things. The gravy may also contain ground meat and chopped bacon or sausage.

This breakfast, however, is still no big deal compared to the typical English breakfast consisting of sausage (again) with beans, eggs, and, of course, bread, which is definitely weirder and probably even more unhealthy. Still, for people who usually eat fruit or cereal for breakfast, both dishes are absolutely shocking.



America is one of the rare countries that prefers a sweet breakfast. Of course, this is by no means a general rule, since eggs with bacon, for example, cannot possibly count as sweet, but if you look at some other favorite breakfast foods in United States, you’ll notice a pattern.

Take, for example, pancakes. You can’t have pancakes without maple syrup, which is remarkably sweet. Even the batter for the pancakes contains some sugar. Not to mention they are often topped with whipped (sweet) cream. Next – French toast. It’s fried toast covered with powdered sugar. ‘Nuff said. And let’s not forget the donuts!

And then there is the absolute breakfast favorite for most Americans – breakfast cereals. Just check the label of any cereal manufacturer available in the United States and you’ll be amazed at the amount of sugar it contains. Not to mention many kinds of cereals contain artificial flavors and colorings.

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