Photo: Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock

5 American Food Myths That Need to Die

United States Travel
by Matt Hershberger Mar 27, 2015

1. We only eat McDonald’s.

It has been months since I last ate at McDonald’s. The only time anyone really eats at McDonald’s is during a particularly shameful hangover or possibly during times of impoverishment. It’s just not that good: even though McDonald’s has popped up virtually everywhere else in the world, and thus, is a type of corporate mascot for America, it’s not particularly popular among the American people when we have much better burger options like Shake Shack, Five Guys, and In-N-Out. The recent decline in their sales — both in the United States and worldwide — is at least in part because of falsity of the next myth:

2. We only eat unhealthy food.

Okay, point granted: obesity is a serious issue in the United States. And our eating habits are, compared to much of the world, absolutely horrible. But it’s getting better: recent studies have found that Americans are starting to build a healthier food culture, and you can see this slow-moving trend in the rise of healthier menus at local restaurants, the rise in vegetarianism and veganism in America, and the decline of fast food joints like McDonald’s.

3. Our beer sucks.

For whatever reason, poll after poll has found that the world thinks American beer is the worst. But a recent map that made the rounds on the internet shows what the problem is: every country’s favorite beer is kind of awful. In the UK it’s Carling, which is far from their best beer, and pretty much all of the other countries have the most bland, inoffensive beer they have to offer as their favorite.

American beer, especially during this century, has gotten amazing if you know what to drink, and has gotten mind-bendingly diverse. American craft beer is among the best in the world.

4. New York is our food capital.

New York is home to a lot of the United States’ great food. But it’s seriously overhyped. Sure, the New York slice is probably the best (sorry, Chicago), and they do bagels better than pretty much every other place on the planet, but the great thing about American cuisine is its diversity. Cajun food in New Orleans, Mexican and Tex-Mex in the southwest, soul food in the South, barbecue and all manner of spiced and cooked meats in the Midwest, and seafood on the northern coasts: the United States is a smorgasbord that you need to travel around to truly get a sense of.

5. The quintessential American food is apple pie.

Nope. It’s pizza. Pizza is the ultimate American food. Here are the reasons why:

  1. We stole it from another country and improved on it.
  2. It is insanely unhealthy but mind-blowingly delicious.
  3. It can be adapted to any culture or diet style: Are you a Midwesterner who loves their food soaked in grease and an unreasonable amount of ingredients? Have a Chicago slice. Want some island food on there, like, say, a pineapple and some ham? Get a Hawaiian. Want something marginally healthy? Get a garden pizza with feta and arugula. Pizza is infinitely adaptable. Just like America.

Tell me that’s not more American than a fruit pie we have once a year.

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