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10 Foods Only America Was Crazy Enough To Invent: Part II


10 Foods Only America Was Crazy Enough To Invent: Part II

America has embraced different cuisines from all around the world but there are some foods that only America was crazy enough to invent. Americans love casual dining and delicious favorites like tater tots and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches fit the bill. Get ready to be hungry.

10. Vive La America

Of course, Vichyssoise sounds very French, but this soup was actually invented in America in the early twentieth century. This popular soup was created by a chef named Louis Diat in 1917 while he was working at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York City. Mr. Diat explained in an interview that he was inspired from the classic Potato and Leek soup he had enjoyed as a child. The key ingredients of this soup includes potatoes, leeks and cream, but there have been many variations of this recipe over the years. Potato and Leek soup was a classic of French cuisine, but like most soups was served hot. Diet wanted to serve something cool to the hotel guests who were dealing with hot summers in a time before the invention of air conditioning. His decision to add cold cream to the soup distinguished his American version from the well-known French version. Diat’s own recipe has since become a popular dish in its own right. The enterprising chef named his soup after the people who live in the popular French resort town called Vichy, which is near the French town where he was born. You might not think of New York city when you hear the name “Vichyssoise,” but this cold soup is truly an American original. 

9. A Salt Water Treat

People don’t agree on just how saltwater taffy got its name, but we have to stipulate upfront that there is absolutely no seawater or saltwater used in the production of this candy. Many people argue that it was simply a clever name cooked up by seaside vendors trying to sell more candy. However, there are others who insist there is a story behind this descriptive name. Taffy was being produced as early as the 1800’s, but hadn’t really broken through as a popular candy. Things changed when an Atlantic City candy maker’s store was hit by an unexpected flood. David Bradley’s store was heavily damaged by floodwaters in 1883 and he lost much of his inventory. The way the story is told is that a little girl came into the damaged candy store looking for a treat. Bradley supposedly told her that all he had to sell her was saltwater taffy. He had meant the line as a joke, but the girl bought some of his “saltwater taffy” anyway. The name caught on after that and an East Coast candy tradition was born. It doesn’t really matter anymore if the story is true or not, but it’s the kind of story people want to believe. Whatever its true origins saltwater taffy has helped make summer a little sweeter for kids of all ages. For many kids, Summer wouldn’t be complete without a  visit to a candy store to peruse the bins filled with color varieties of saltwater taffy.

8. Drink Your Ice Cream

Milkshakes were first introduced in America in 1885 as an adult beverage made with whiskey. But that was then, but by the early 1900’s they had been established as a creamy kid-friendly treat enjoyed by all. Milkshakes were originally shaken by hand, but in the early 1900’s a number of electric mixers and blenders became available and the modern milkshake with a more frothy consistency was born. In the days of soda fountains, ice cream started to be a common ingredient in milkshakes after an enterprising employee at a Walgreens soda fountain decided to add several scoops of ice cream to the standard shake recipe. later, with the popularity of fast food chains and mass-produced food pre-made mixes and syrups started to replace ice cream in many milkshakes. In the 1950’s Ray Kroc helped to make milkshakes a popular item at fast-food chains when he bought the exclusive rights to a particular milkshake mixer for use at McDonald’s restaurants. Although tastes have changed quite a bit over the years milkshakes have remained a popular treat. Fast food restaurants and more recently some high-end establishments offer their own modern takes on this classic treat. Even with all the varieties of milkshakes available today the tried and true chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are still the big three. 

7. Leave Room For Your Fortune

If you get Chinese food in America you’ll likely finish your meal with one of those little folded cookies with a fortune printed on a tiny slip of paper. Not everyone agrees on the exact origins of these treats, but perhaps the most likely involves immigrants not from China. It appears these “Chinese” fortune cookies were actually introduced by Japanese immigrants inspired by a popular cookie in Japan that is served with tea. It is possible that a Japanese establishment in San Francisco called Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden started serving a version of the cookie sometime in the 1890’s. However, there is a competing story that the Hong Kong Noodle Company in Los Angeles first started serving the cookies around 1918. Whatever the truth is these tasty little cookies were becoming popular in America the early twentieth century, and during this period became closely associated with Chinese food. A court case in the 1980’s ruled in favor of the Tea Garden’s claim that San Fransisco should be recognized as fortune cookie’s birthplace, but the Los Angeles Noodle Company decided to ignore this ruling and continued to claim the honor for itself. Wherever you come down on the fortune cookie controversy we can probably agree that these simple little cookies are the perfect finish to our Chinese food.

6. A Kid Classic

An article in the May 1896 issue of an American magazine called Good Housekeeping offered a recipe that called for spreading homemade peanut butter on slices of bread. Soon after Table Talk magazine published a recipe for what it called a peanut butter sandwich. At this point, peanut butter was still relatively expensive and the sandwich didn’t really catch on with most people. However, in the early 1900’s the price of peanut butter fell quite a bit and peanut butter sandwiches began to grow in popularity with mothers and children alike. Several other innovations soon followed including adding sugar to the peanut butter and offering pre-sliced bread. These changes helped catapult this modest recipe to new heights of popularity. It is unclear exactly when jelly became part of the recipe, but records show that by World War Two the troops were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As popular as this classic combination has become there are several well-regarded variations such as the fluffernutter. Instead of jelly, this peanut butter sandwich uses a stiff marshmallow spread called Fluff. The fluffernutter seems more like a dessert than a sandwich which is probably just fine with most kids. A Peanut butter and banana sandwich has also enjoyed enduring popularity and is just as crazy as PB&J. 

5. Eating The Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid powdered drink mix has long been a fruity summer tradition for American kids, but Kool-Aid pickles are a relatively new creation. The American South has been a hot spot for Pickles for a long time so it should not be surprising that Mississippi proudly takes credit for first submerging pickles in Kool-Aid. All you have to do to make Kool-Aid pickles is empty the pickle juice from a jar of pickles and replace it with your choice of Kool-Aid drink mix. These fruity pickles should be allowed to sit for about 5-7 days before enjoying them to give the Kool-Aid’s coloring and flavor time to transform the pickles. After a few days you’ll have bright red or bright green pickles with a new sweet flavor added to the pickles’ usual tanginess that appeals to both kids and adults. A convenience store chain in Mississippi called Double Quick began selling Kool-Aid pickles to customers in 2004. The chain started calling the treats Koolickles and applied for a trademark to protect its popular snack. The company claims that red Kool-Aid pickles are the top sellers and can be cherry, strawberry or tropical punch flavor. Many people prefer to make their own Kool-Aid pickles and with a rainbow of fruit flavors available there is a lot of room to experiment with different flavor combinations. 

4. Fair Food

County fairs have been popular in America for a long time. You can’t have a lot of fairs without coming up with a lot of interesting fair foods. Several food vendors at state fairs in the 1940’s claimed to have invented this tasty American treat. However, patent records from 1927 show that Texas sausage makers from Germany, that describes equipment they were using make corn dogs and other deep-fried foods. But even if these hot dogs dipped in cornmeal batter weren’t actually invented at a fair they have certainly become a tasty part of fair culture across America. There is something about deep-fried foods that just goes so well with these annual summertime events. Many food vendors take pride in concocting the next deep-fried sensation. Despite their connection to fairs corn dogs aren’t confined only to fairs and are often served by street vendors and fast-food restaurants. Some people prefer to make them at home and the Internet provides a range of different recipes for this crazy American treat. Some popular variations include putting cheese between the hot dog and the cornmeal batter or even injecting cheese into the hot dog itself. If you prefer a quick snack you can get frozen corn dogs at most supermarkets and heat them up whenever you’re in the mood for fair food. 

3. I’ll Have S’mores

The Campfire Marshmallows company published a recipe for a Graham Cracker Sandwich in the early 1920’s and camping was changed forever. By the time this recipe was published S’mores were already a popular snack with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts on their camping trips. This delicious American treat is a wonderful combination of marshmallows and chocolate wedged between graham crackers. The preferred method for preparation is to roast the marshmallows over a campfire, but S’mores can also be made at home using the backyard grill or even the microwave in a pinch. Regardless of how the marshmallows are cooked, they should get warm and soft enough to melt the chocolate a little bit. However, it has to be firm enough so the ingredients hold together long enough to be enjoyed instead of completely falling apart. The grahams and chocolate bars are key ingredients of the classic version of S’mores. However, over the years there have been many variations that used different cookies and candy. Everything from peanut butter cups to peppermint patties and Almond Joy has been tried in an effort to improve on the classic recipe. These alternatives probably taste just fine, but it is hard to top the classic chocolate bar as the perfect match for the marshmallow and graham crackers. Campfires simply wouldn’t be the same without this crazy American treat.

2. I’m Going To Eat My Tots

In the 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite the title character puts tater tots in his pants so he can eat them later, but needless to say this plan doesn’t work out for him. A lot of Americans love these little blobs of fried potato even if most of them don’t tend to store them in their clothes. A Tater tot’s cylinder shape lends the side dish to being a finger food for children, but they are enjoyed by potato lovers of all ages. F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, the founders of the Ore-Ida company came up with a new product dubbed the “tater tot” in 1953 to signify a small potato. The tater tot was Ore-Ida’s solution to the question of what to do with the scraps and leftovers from the huge amounts of potatoes the company processed everyday. Tater tots were first sold in stores in 1956 at a cheap price, but they did not sell very well. Ironically, they began to sell better after Ore-Ida raised the price. Despite these lowly origins, the tater tot has become a legitimate alternative to french fries. These crispy treats have become so popular that Americans now eat as many as 3.7 million tater tots a year. In addition to traditional tater tots sweet potato tater tots and alternatives made with broccoli and cauliflower have become increasingly popular. It’s unlikely any of these tater-tot variations will ever replace the original because they’ve become such a side dish staple.

1. Let’s Split

The banana split is big, decadent and delicious so it’s everything crazy American food should be. This over the top treat features at least three scoops of ice cream, sliced banana served alongside the ice cream, fruit sauce and chocolate sauce. This summertime hit is usually topped with whipped cream, nuts and maraschino cherries. It might seem like the banana split is the result of simply throwing a lot of different flavors together at random, but based on its longevity just works. Many ice cream lovers agree that this is a fantastic creation, but there is less agreement about exactly where and when the banana split was invented. Between the years 1904 and 1907 no less than three cities claimed to have come up with this soda fountain classic. The cities of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Boston, Massachusetts and Wilmington, Ohio all claim the banana split as their own. Historians usually give credit for the banana split a young man named David Strikler. According to the story he was working at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe when he was inspired to create this famous treat. Although the two other cities dispute this account, Latrobe went a head and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the banana split in 2004. In 1952 the popularity of the banana split inspired a Nebraska teenager to create the banana split pie. This unique dessert won first prize worth $3,000 in a national contest. These historical details the banana split are interesting, but what ice cream fans really want to know is where they can get one!

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