For any American, pop tarts, Reese’s cups, Jell-O and a range of other snacks bring back fond memories of childhood. And these are sorely missed by American expats when they are hard to find on foreign shores. Check out the 10 snacks that you can’t find outside of America!
10. Pop Tarts
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and most Americans follow this rule to the T. After cereals, pop tarts are the most popular packaged breakfast items in the U.S. Just pop them in the toaster, wait for them to pop back out, and they’re ready to eat! Delicious, convenient and perfect on the go, pop tarts are hard to resist. Contrary to popular belief, Kellogg’s was not the first company to invent toaster pastries. Another manufacturer, Post, came up with the idea in the early 1960s, but Kellogg’s is the one who invented the branding for America’s favorite toaster pastry – ‘pop tarts’. Initially released in only four flavors – blueberry, strawberry, apple currant, and brown sugar cinnamon – pop tarts sold out in just two weeks! While the flavors were awesome, the first few years of pop tarts did not even have frosting on it because the makers were of the opinion that the frosting could not withstand the heat of the toaster. Fast forward to circa 2019, there is not just frosting but also a mind-boggling array of pop tart flavors to choose from – peanut butter, raspberry, s’mores, chocotastic, hot fudge sundae, and more. But by far, America’s most favored pop tart flavors seem to be ‘Frosted Strawberry’ and ‘Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon’. Several seasonal and special edition pop tart flavors are also released each year. In fact, there was even talk of introducing a ranch dressing flavoured pop tart in the recent past. Thankfully, it was just a rumor and there will not be any salad dressing flavored pop tarts on your breakfast table any time soon! While pop tarts are undoubtedly the most convenient breakfast items, it isn’t the best idea to start your day with 13 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fat and about 200 calories. Surprisingly though, the popularity of pop tarts has never gone down, with many Americans reportedly eating pop tarts even for lunch, dinner and every other meal in-between! This all-time favorite snack is easily available in the U.S. and Canada, but often very difficult to locate in other countries. A stray packet may be found every now and then on foreign supermarket shelves, but if you find yourself hankering for these goodies in foreign lands, make sure you order in bulk and take them along with you before you leave. A replacement for pop tarts will be simply hard to find abroad.
9. Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy
Winner of the ‘Do Us A Flavor’ contest held by Lay’s in 2015, the Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy flavor has become a super hit flavour with customers across America. With an unmistakable taste of the traditional Southern classic dish of biscuits and gravy, this potato chip flavor is now a crowd favorite. Imagine the aroma of freshly baked biscuits in your grandmother’s kitchen accompanied by the delicately flavored peppery-white gravy poured on top of the biscuits – that is exactly what Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy potato chips taste like. Overall, these chips are a good representation of the taste of Southern cooking and would be a nice introduction to someone who isn’t very familiar with the taste of the South. For any American, biscuits and gravy are familiar food, and something they might have had many times over in their lifetime, even if they are not actually from the South. Served at diners across America, this American classic is a savory, creamy and flaky delight all at once! Combine it with the irresistible appeal of a crunchy potato chip, and you’ve got a dynamite snack on your hands! That’s what Lay’s succeeded in doing with the Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy potato chips. And as soon as it hit the shelves, it became a snack-time hit with customers. Lay’s potato chips are manufactured and sold across the world, and the company has even exported many of its flavors to other countries. Sadly though, the Southern Biscuits & Gravy flavor never left American shores, and you’ll be hard pressed to find it any other country. The rest of the world is truly missing out on tasting a true American classic dish, albeit in potato chip form!
8. Teddy Grahams
Another American childhood favorite snack is Teddy Grahams. These cute teddy bear shaped graham cracker snacks are a popular lunch bag, breakfast and anytime-snack favorite with children across America. Most adults have fond memories of Teddy Grahams and the popularity continues generation after generation. And why not? Teddy Grahams are actually considered a healthy snack choice by their makers, Nabisco. They are rich in iron and calcium and have zero trans fats. Also, many flavors of Teddy Grahams, like cinnamon and chocolate, are vegan-friendly too. The adorable Teddy Grahams were first introduced in the U.S. 1988, and come in four flavors – honey, cinnamon, chocolatey chip and chocolate. They are great snacks for kids who like to play with their food, and the company even has suggestions for delicious dishes that can be made with Teddy Grahams. But alas, while Teddy Graham’s parent company, Nabisco’s, other products are easily available in countries throughout the world (Oreo cookies and Chips Ahoy!), Teddy Grahams are limited to American stores. Though more than $150 million worth of Teddy Grahams are sold each year in the U.S., their makers choose not to sell them abroad. So, if you’re a fan and living abroad, it would be wise to stockpile these on your next visit to the States.
7. Reese’s Cups
For the uninitiated and those living under the rock, America’s favorite candy, Reese’s cups, are tasty cups made from velvety chocolate and filled with peanut cream. These heavenly tasting cups are manufactured by The Hershey Company and are a staple candy favored by children across America. Whether you hand these out to kids during Halloween, put them in your kids’ school lunch bags or eat them yourself as a snack in the office, there is no denying the popularity of Reese’ cups. So popular is this ubiquitously American candy that its parent company has released a variety of versions over the years, including, holiday-themed and limited editions of the candy as well as size, filling, and coating variations too. How about Reese’ Peanut Butter Pumpkins for Halloween, a Reester Bunny for Easter or Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts for Valentine’s Day? Coating variations like dark chocolate, white chocolate, fudge, etc. are popular too. Their filling variations are just as interesting, like double crunch, caramel, marshmallow, etc., but some have been discontinued over the years. Reese’s cups are a homage to America’s obsession with peanut butter, but sadly the rest of the world hasn’t fallen in love with Reese’s cups yet. You may spot them at some specialty supermarkets abroad, but by-and-large, they are difficult to come by in other countries. Reese’s cups variations, especially, are very hard to find on foreign supermarket shelves.
6. Hostess CupCakes
Introduced to America in 1919, Hostess CupCakes are now an American institution. Supposed to be the first commercially produced cupcakes, Hostess CupCakes are a type of snack cake with a creamy filling and a distinctive design of eight white icing squiggles on top. The most common types of Hostess CupCakes are the chocolate ones with a vanilla cream filling, chocolate icing and white squiggles on top. But other flavors such as Orange CupCakes and Red Velvet CupCakes are widely available too. The brand also sometimes offers seasonal and ‘limited time only’ flavors. The history of these iconic snack cakes is interesting. The snack cakes were formerly manufactured and sold by Hostess Brands, but the company declared bankruptcy in 2012 and was sold to a conglomerate of private equity firms. The evolution of Hostess CupCakes is also noteworthy. Though first introduced in 1919, the current form of the snack cakes did not come about until 1950, when the final touch of eight squiggly lines in white icing was added to the top, to make it stand out from other cupcake brands. This signature top has now become widely associated with Hostess CupCakes. Another childhood favorite, Hostess CupCakes unfortunately never made it across American borders. These processed cupcakes are snack-time staples and sometimes even preferred above freshly made or homemade cupcakes in America. But the world is yet to fall in love with the deliciousness of the iconic taste of Hostess CupCakes. So, grab a bunch of these before you move abroad and savor the taste of home as you lick off the icing on top!
Recognized throughout America as the dessert that jiggles and wobbles on the plate and in your stomach, Jell-O is another classic American snack. It’s quite hard to believe that Jell-O is on this list of snacks that you can’t find outside America. But that’s not entirely the case; while it’s true that the brand of Jell-O dessert per se is not popular outside America, gelatin or ‘jelly desserts’ as they are called in other parts of the world, are quite easily found all across the globe. But a pack of the familiar Jell-O brand will be difficult to come across in other countries. In essence, Jell-O is most simply a gelatin dessert sold in powdered form in various flavors and colors. All you are required to do is dissolve the flavored powder in hot water, chill it in the fridge and allow it to set to wobbly consistency in a container/mold of your choice. And the most fun part of this dessert is its ability to be molded into any shape before it sets. Its wide variety of flavors like apricot, cherry, grape, lemon, mango, orange, strawberry, peach, etc. makes it appealing to people of all ages. Invented in 1897, Jell-O is a 122-year-old dessert that gained popularity in the 1930s and 50s. It is now owned by Kraft Foods and is the signature product of the Jell-O brand that also makes puddings, cream pies, and other products. A staple at 4th of July parties, college dorms, kiddie celebrations, and other such classic American celebrations, Jell-O is an essential part of Americana!
4. Peanut Butter M & M’s
Peanut butter is a very popular American snack. Peanut butter and chocolate is an even more popular snack. But alas, the rest of the world does not seem to think so. Perhaps if they had tasted Peanut Butter M& M’s, their opinion would surely change. While M&M’s are available in most countries, Peanut Butter M&M’s have somehow managed to stay only on American soil. You can easily get your M&M fix abroad, but if you are a fan of Peanut Butter M&M’s, you might have to look very hard. These colourful button shaped chocolate pieces with an ‘m’ printed on them are easily one of America’s favorite candies. The hard chocolate shell candy comes in a plethora of colors, sometimes with interesting fillings too. Over the years, the manufacturer, Mars Incorporated, has experimented with many versions of M&M’s like holiday-themed M&M’s, special edition M&M’s, etc. And one such interesting flavor is the Peanut Butter M&M with peanut butter inside the chocolate center. Since its introduction in 1991, it has quickly become one of the most popular and widely sold M&M flavors in America. A ‘Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s’ version is also available for those with a sense of adventure!
3. Candy Corn
A candy so unique to America that it is highly unlikely to be found anywhere else in the world is Candy Corn. True to its name, it resembles a kernel of corn, only three times the size of an actual corn kernel. It is a colorful candy consisting of three bright colors – a bright and broad yellow end, a wide orange middle and a tapering white tip. First introduced in rural America in the 1880s, it was initially called ‘Chicken Feed’. Children across America started liking it and soon it became a staple of the fall season. Its popularity is inextricably linked with Halloween, but there are other variations of Candy Corn too, like those released around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. with a change in the color combination of the candies. Made mainly from corn syrup, sugar, confectioner’s wax, binders and artificial coloring, Candy Corn is quite delightful to look at. But its taste has been a question of much debate. Whether you’re a fan of its taste or not, Candy Corn has surely earned a place in the most peculiar American snacks list.
Uniquely American, Airheads are a very tangy, chewy and taffy-like candy that come in a variety of different fruity flavors. Available in over 16 different flavors like strawberry, green apple, maple, lemon, orange, etc., Airheads are a snack that became quite popular in the 90s. But this candy is not easily available outside America. Sold almost exclusively in the U.S. and Canada, Airheads have a unique flavour and texture combination that will be quite difficult to replicate in other candies. So, if you are stuck abroad without a pack of your favorite Airheads, you might just have to wait it out till you are back home on American soil. Created in 1985, Airheads also have special edition flavors and there are many other variations of Airheads too, like Airheads Pops, Airheads Gummies, Airheads Gum, Airheads Bites, Airheads Xtremes, etc. It is rumoured that in 2019, a new product called Airheads Paradise Blends will also be rolled out.
It’s strange that something as simple as a candy consisting of a crispy peanut butter centre encased in a milk chocolate coating is unavailable in any other country of the world. Sold almost exclusively in the U.S., Butterfinger is not a new entrant to the American snack and candy market; it has been around since 1923. One of the reasons attributed to the success of Butterfinger in America are its marketing strategies that utilize popular film, television and sports personalities as its spokespersons. Top Cat, Bart Simpson, Rob Lowe, have all promoted Butterfinger at some point of time. As is common with candies, there are multiple variations of Butterfinger too. There are Butterfinger Bites, Snackerz, Crisp, Cups, and more variations that have been introduced in the past and some continue to be sold even today. While the rest of the world has not yet known the yummy taste of this peanut buttery candy, go ahead and pack a few bars of Butterfinger in your bag, and enjoy a taste of home wherever you are in the world!