19 American Foods That Make Most Foreigners Go “Yuck”

Written By Jill Taylor

Traveling or living abroad often brings cultural surprises, especially with food. Many American dishes that are loved at home can seem weird or unappetizing to foreigners. They may even choose to completely avoid them. Here are 19 American foods that often make visitors say “yuck.”

Root Beer

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According to All Recipies, root beer’s unique flavor comes from sassafras, which is a native tree root. Root beer often confuses people from other countries. Its medicinal taste and creamy feel are unlike anything else. To many non-Americans, it tastes a bit like drinking liquid cough syrup.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

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It isn’t uncommon to find peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in American homes, but many people from other countries think it’s a weird combo. The mix of salty peanut butter and sweet jelly can seem strange if you’re not used to it. It’s a childhood favorite that often puzzles outsiders.


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Usually eaten for breakfast, grits are a Southern staple made from ground corn and can take some getting used to. They have a bland, gritty texture, often improved with butter, cheese, or sugar. However, for those not familiar with them, grits might seem odd and not very appealing.

Biscuits and Gravy

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Another unusual breakfast dish, biscuits and gravy is a hearty meal but can be off-putting for those unfamiliar with it. The combination of fluffy biscuits smothered in a thick, sausage-laden gravy can appear heavy and unappealing. This Southern favorite often leaves foreigners scratching their heads.

American Cheese

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Often processed and sold in bright orange slices, American cheese can be a shock to visitors. Its artificial look and taste are a far cry from the rich, varied cheeses found in Europe. Many foreigners find it too plastic-like and prefer more natural alternatives.

Jell-O Salads

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Not many people think to put jelly and salad together. Jell-O salads, common at American potlucks, are pretty confusing. These colorful, jiggly dishes can have anything in them—fruit, nuts, even meat. The idea of a sweet, wobbly side dish is really strange to a lot of people.


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This dish may be well-loved by Americans but meatloaf often puzzles other people. Mixing ground meat, bread crumbs, and spices into a loaf might seem strange. Adding ketchup on top makes it different from the fancy meat dishes in other cultures. But it’s comfort food that many enjoy.

Corn Dogs

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Corn dogs are a popular American snack made by deep-frying hot dogs in sweet cornmeal batter. For many people from other countries, the mix of savory sausage and sweet, crunchy coating seems odd. It’s a classic carnival food that can be a bit unusual for some to enjoy.

Sweet Potato Casserole

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Usually coming out at Thanksgiving, sweet potato casserole, usually with marshmallows on top, is an American classic. The blend of sweet potatoes, sugar, and marshmallows can be too sugary for some. It’s a dish that often confuses people who aren’t familiar with it.

Chicken and Waffles

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This meal can seem odd, but not to Americans. Chicken and waffles is a mix of fried chicken and fluffy waffles, usually topped with syrup. This blend of savory and sweet can be hard for some to get used to, but it’s a soul food favorite that breaks the usual meal rules.


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Thanks to its bright color and artificial flavors, Kool-Aid can be quite a shock. Its intense sweetness and synthetic taste are unlike the more natural beverages enjoyed elsewhere. For many foreigners, it’s an overly sugary concoction that’s hard to enjoy.

Sloppy Joes

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If Americans want messy comfort food, then they’ll make sloppy Joes. The meal is a sandwich filled with ground beef in a tomato-based sauce. The loose, saucy meat can seem unrefined and overly casual. This American school lunch favorite often leaves foreign visitors unimpressed.

Fried Butter

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Even though it’s a state fair novelty, fried butter can be particularly shocking for non-Americans. The idea of battering and deep-frying a stick of butter is almost unimaginable to many. The resulting greasy, rich snack is something that leaves foreigners both curious and appalled.

Cheese Whiz

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You won’t expect many foreigners to be impressed with Cheese Whiz, which is cheese coming out of a spray can. Its neon color and aerosol delivery method are quite unusual. For many foreigners, the idea of spraying cheese from a can is both amusing and off-putting.

Grape Jelly

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This is a common American breakfast spread and is loved in many households. Its bright purple color and intense sweetness are unlike the more natural fruit preserves found elsewhere. Many foreigners find it too sugary and the taste too artificial. They avoid putting it on their toast at all costs.


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Americans love bologna for lunch, but for others, it can be unappealing. Its smooth texture and mild flavor are a stark contrast to the more robust, artisanal meats enjoyed in other cultures. Often found in American lunchboxes, it doesn’t always win foreign fans.

Canned Cheese

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Often used as a convenience product, canned cheese has been known to raise many eyebrows. The concept of cheese in a can, ready to be squeezed onto crackers or other snacks, is quite foreign. Its processed taste and texture are far from gourmet.

Cool Whip

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Something that’s perplexing to non-Americans is Cool Whip, a non-dairy whipped topping. Its light, fluffy texture and sweet taste are designed to mimic whipped cream, but its artificial ingredients can be off-putting. Many foreigners prefer the real thing and it’s healthier.


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These snack cakes are considered iconic by Americans. With others, they’re often met with curiosity. Their bright yellow color, sponge cake texture, and creamy filling are quite unique. However, the intense sweetness and artificial flavor can be too much for many foreign palates.

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