America’s Favorite Foods: Some Things Never Change

Americans are an interesting mix of cultures and cuisine aficionados. We love sushi, Chinese and Mexican food, Italian restaurants and designer coffee drinks, yet when it gets right down to it, there are few surprises. We buy the same basics which have been around for decades, mainly because we grow up on them, they’re served up in school lunchrooms, and they are around every corner.

Overall there are no surprises here and this list has seen little change in decades, so let’s start with the Big Ten of America’s overall favorite foods (no veggies in sight):

Hamburgers – since the first White Castle opened, we were hooked
Hot Dogs – the all-American food
French Fries – can’t do much to improve on these
Oreo Cookies – chocolate chip cookie lovers will disagree
Pizza – lots of toppings, but the base remains the same
Soft Drinks – as a nation we guzzle them all day long (not technically a food, but hey)
Chicken Tenders – we know what fast food chain started it all
Ice cream – thank foodie president Thomas Jefferson for this one
Donuts – breakfast of champions
Potato chips – our favorite snack food, hands down
Mac and cheese (yes, Thomas Jefferson also introduced this)
Apple Pie – been around in some form for centuries

Soft Drinks:

Colas – since the first soda fountain opened, they have maintained their status
Lemon/Lime drinks – since Americans discovered lemons, a fizzy variation of good old lemonade
Dr Pepper – first considered a medicinal tonic (similar to cola) it still has a loyal following


Berries-ever since man began gathering wild berries in the woods (it’s a toss-up-some surveys will argue it’s bananas or apples)
Apples – easy to grow and transport
Bananas – no washing required
Grapes – cost can vary, but still wonderful, especially seedless


Broccoli – serious doubts here, but some surveys insist
Corn – probably America’s first native veggie and still right up there
Potatoes – due in no small part to French fries and potato chips
Tomatoes – the base for ketchup (our favorite condiment) and so many other foods
Green beans – what’s not to like?

Candy (no surprise the top five are all chocolate-based):

M&Ms pretty much tied with
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Snickers – peanuts, caramel – nougat – the best of everything
Hershey’s – Milk Chocolate Bar – can’t improve on that
Kit Kats – crunchy and fun
Candy corn – at Halloween, for sure

Ice Cream flavors:

Cookies N’ Cream – part of the Oreo craze
Chocolate – just a continuation of America’s love affair with chocolate anything
Mint Chocolate Chip – refreshing
Vanilla – so versatile and the foundation of many treats
Cookie Dough – a relative newcomer compared to the original vanilla

Unlike most categories, cost plays a major role with Seafood:

Shrimp, which still tops the list, would undoubtedly be far greater in consumption if the price was lower
Salmon – a distant second (but by far the most popular ordered at restaurants)
Tuna – beloved sandwich filling as well as dining out
Tilapia – frequently bashed as “dirty” it’s still cost effective, light, easy to prepare

Best-selling Cold Cereals:

Cheerios – both Honey Nut and plain
Frosted Flakes – sugar already added to old-timer corn flakes
Mini-Wheats – likewise shredded wheat – sugar-coated and smaller size than original
Special K – touted as a “diet” food, we can still fool ourselves if we don’t add sugar

And at Starbuck’s, the Frappuccinos rule:

Triple Mocha Frappuccino – just can’t have too much chocolate
Coffee Frappuccino – the basic which started it all
Double Chocolaty Chip Creme Frappuccino – getting a little complicated here
Caffè Mocha – beats out lattes – gotta have that shot of chocolate

So there you have it. As a foodie nation, we are still conservative and stuck in a rut, as we cling to our old standards for convenience, cost, habit and just plain good taste. But don’t we love to live vicariously when we watch cooking shows, devour cookbooks and feel adventurous when we frequent ethnic restaurants. Although a diverse country of many backgrounds and cuisines, the same foods stand the test of time. and we might not be into haute cuisine but we definitely enjoy our native foods to the max. And that’s just fine with us.