10 Things Americans Love About Brits

Simon Cowell, the man Americans love to hate. (Photo via AP)

From how we speak to what we eat, the U.S. is mad about everything British.

1. Our accents
As a Brit living in America, I veer between extreme speaking-related self-consciousness – like when I have to ask for budder instead of butter in a restaurant – and believing, thanks to a steady flow of compliments from American strangers, that I’m a rare and exotic vocalist. Don’t they realise that my generic London drone is duller than Ryvita?

2. Our Royal family
Few Brits actually adore the Windsors, but Americans see things differently. Without blue bloods of their own to treasure, they’ve adopted ours and relish every birth, marriage, death and indiscretion.

3. Our TV shows
U.S. viewers are increasingly hooked on British small-screen fare, from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey. After decades spent ogling the best of U.S. comedy and drama, it’s nice that we have something to give back.

4. Our food
The notion that Brits subsist on over-boiled offal and beef dripping on toast is dying out. These days, most Americans who’ve sampled our grub are happy to admit that, when cooked correctly, fish and chips, bangers and mash and toad in the hole are culinary masterpieces. Admittedly, we still have a PR mountain to climb when it comes to Marmite and pickled onions.

5. Our sense of humor
We all know that Americans don’t understand – or admire – British sarcasm, comic timing and deadpan delivery. Except that they most definitely do. And I have proof. Nearly a year ago, when Fenton the Dog (aka, the accidental Brit-com moment of the decade) went viral in the U.K., several Brit friends bet me that Americans wouldn’t *get* it. So I showed some New Yorkers and almost all of them fell down laughing. So there.

6. Our bad guys
From scolders of caterwauling children (Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan) to cackling movie villains (Ian McKellen, Alan Rickman), America loves to hate English gents with an evil bent. 

7. Our music
For a tiny collection of islands, Britain boasts an astonishing musical back-catalog, and no one holds our rock and pop acts in greater esteem than our friends across the pond. Alas, they also love our detritus (cough *One Direction* splutter).

8. Our pessimism
When you hail from a land that relishes cheer, hope and public gushing, it’s easy to understand why British sneering, cynicism and gloom mongering can seem refreshing. Of course, many Americans find our relentless negativity depressing.

9. Our chocolate
Let’s be honest, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is hardly where an ambitious cocoa bean wants to end up, or what a chocolate snob wants to eat. But when you discover that Americans have grown up munching candy that tastes like vomit (Hershey’s Kisses anyone?), it’s easy to understand why a many start drooling at the mere mention of a Fruit and Nut bar.

10. Our swearing
When it comes to verbal filth, my host nation’s population is far more prudish than the British people, and less skilled at blasting out profanities with casual abandon. But I suspect Americans secretly admire our potty mouths and love of anything to do with the toilet.

What do you think Americans like about you — please share!!

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis
  • Krystina

    I loved Cadbury…until I discovered Milka. So, yeah.

  • Tami

    I grew up watching whatever Brit comedy I could come by. I absolutely love the British sense of humor (far more than the American one)! I agree with everything about your list except that I’ll take the Arctic Monkeys over One Direction any day of the week, and Ghiradelli has Cadbury beat by a mile!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.pavlik Kelly Pavlik

    1) I do not consider Alan Rickman a bad guy. Sure, he has been cast into some bad guy roles. But he brings a great deal of character to the roles and for that he cannot be accused of being a bad guy.
    2) Here stateside Cadbury is owned by Kraft, I therefore have to eat the non-GMO chocolates offered and stay away from Cadbury, who I used to prefer.

    • senigma1

      Cadbury is owned by Kraft in the UK too

      • http://www.facebook.com/spacey1 Lynda Case

        Cabury while owned by Kraft is not made by Cadbury or Kraft in the US, it is made by Hershey. It is God awful. Cadbury in the UK is still made the same way it has always been and is fabulous!!

        • Sara

          Yup. Definitely a difference between US and UK Cadbury. After delighting in non-Hershey’s chocolate. I am a toal convert. We have stores here that have fabulous import selection of chocolate :)

    • Kolohe

      Even as the ‘bad guy’ Alan Rickman rules! (The problem is when an American actor, who can’t hold their own, acts opposite him). And, I do agree with you, he is an amazing all around actor!

    • MrsFizzy

      It’s true. AR doesn’t like to say he plays “villains”. It was just an easy mark as they assume most Americans will only know him as Hans Gruber or the Sheriff of Nottingham…
      And good luck avoiding GM food here in America! ;) There are other reasons of course not to eat American chocs! ;)

  • Sally

    Your description of Hershey’s Kisses is offensve… even though Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bars are out of this world!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017442067 Brent Rossow

    “Few Brits actually adore the Windsors.”?? “Of course, many Americans find our relentless negativity depressing.”?!?! How is this moron, whose most advanced writing skill seems to be pulling stuff out of her ass … err, arse … more adroitly than Jayson Blair, still employed as a writer? She clearly doesn’t understand Americans, and I suspect she doesn’t know much about Brits, either. She’s just plain awful.

    • Sue

      I wondered about that too. From what I saw this summer.. there is more that likes than dislikes the Windsors.. The official numbers show that the minority are those who, I sense believe as Ruth does. Oh, and we are all not potty mouths either. I don’t know what circles she engages in, but there are those of us who believe it’s quite uncouth.

    • MrsFizzy

      This article is pretty much par for the course of what you get from BBC America. But yeah that whole “Jubilee” thing this summer…didn’t look like many people gave a dam about the Windsors…

  • jgroove

    Definitely disagree on the food. Now if you replaced that as CANDY, then you might have something.

  • Crystal

    Love it! The only one I can’t agree with is the food. I have never been to England so I have no reference point however just the names of it have me turned off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edstrenko Ed Strenko

    Actually.. I’ve taken to using British swearing at work ’cause people don’t think of it as negatively as our own for some reason…

    • Jelene

      Ed, I do the exact same thing!

    • SheldonCooper

      I’ve been using the word “wanker” for years

  • Kolohe

    Wasn’t really into Cadbury chocolates, but loved Ripple. Also, my friends and I have been hooked on British TV programs for decades — the Young Ones, the Comic Strip, the Tomorrow People, a Bit of Fry and Laurie, the various Black Adder series, etc. And, if weren’t for British TV, many American series wouldn’t have existed — All in the Family, Sanford and Son, etc. :)

    • Maynard B.

      Let us not forget “Man about the house” the precursor to “Three’s Company”

      • Kolohe

        Definitely shouldn’t forget that one, too! :)

  • TheNailPixi

    I have always thought hershey’s kisses tasted like vomit! People said I was crazy! It’s nice to hear someone else say this!

    • Ams

      Before refrigeration, Hershey’s chocolate was made with spoiled milk. When they began using unspoiled milk, customers complained about the different flavor, and Hershey’s put a lot of effort into recreating the “spoiled milk” taste, which many equate with vomit.

  • Lloyd

    @Crystal The Food listed above is just Fish, Fries, Sausages, and toad in the hole is just Sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter served with vegetables and Onion Gravy. Marmite though is a bitter and salty tasting yeast extract and Pickled Onions is just what it says here Pickled Onions…I don’t know if I could bring myself to try Marmite and Pickled Onions.

  • Rawcliffe

    Can’t believe John Smith’s Extra Smooth wasn’t mentioned

  • Jelene

    I LOVE your black pudding, mushy peas and a good Sunday Roast from a good pub! I love your ales, your Shandies, your Jersey milk and Manchester United! I have all the Little Britian DVD’s and love every other show you mentioned. My husband and I also have a share in a narrowboat over there and spend one month in the Spring and one month in the Fall cruising on your ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS canals! (Yes, I’m a Yank, but an Anglophile as well!) One more big difference between our countries is how any time I need something from Boots, without fail the sales clerk will walk me directly to it! Good luck getting that kind of customer service over here! Tesco delivers our groceries directly to our boat if we order 24-hours in advance and give them our GPS coordinates, now THAT is excellent customer service my friends! There are many reasons we chose to spend time in England, the biggest? The people! Cheers from Florida! (oh, and that sticky toffee, OMG!)

  • Rick Zimmerman

    As to #10, ever been to New Jersey?

    • Val

      Pardon me, how many generations back does your family from NJ go. Mine? The house I grew up in was built by my mom’s kin in 1774, and fought in the revolutionary war, Battle of Monmouth actually.
      I was born and raised on a farm there. My mother would have had me scooping manure for hours if I acted like the NYers that invaded the state. Well, those from the 5 boroughs. I have nothing against the upstaters. I actually left the area because of the people that moved in. My parents are still putting up with them. May want to do just a little research before lumping us all into the same category as the newbies.

      • MrsFizzy

        The truth hurts… you moved away because of what has become the public image of New Jersey, sad as it may be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001837214885 Tonja Godeaux

    British humor, sense of adventure, classic rock, actors/movies, duty/work ethic, contribution to charities, these are the things I admire most :)

  • http://twitter.com/snappin_ginger GingerSnap

    I love your comedy. I mean really, Eddie Izzard, Tim Minchin, Ed Byrnes and so many others. I just wish we could get more of it over here.

    • Peeputt

      Tim Minchin is Australian ;-)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=571342277 Eddie Bosano-Andrews

        Ed Byrne is Irish

  • BeccaP

    As an Anglophile, I completely agree with this list! As a cynical American, British humor (or ‘humour’ if you will) has always been my tether to sanity. From Monty Python to Terry Pratchett, I cling to the wit and dry hilarity that my country seems incapable of producing. And yes, I am completely envious of your swearing capabilities and your most mundane accents. My slight southern drawl just can’t do justice to “Am I bovvered?” ;)

    • Alan

      As a Brit I think a slight southern drawl is a top accent and would sit along side some of our best regional ones such as spouser with a little training!!

      • Bird_of_Hera

        The many versions of British accents are closely related to the many versions of Southern accents. The southern states were settled and then populated with wealthy Europeans (in many cases) so our accents are evolutions of the accents of your asristocracy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543735750 Jennifer Burnham

    No, we do NOT love your food unless you are trying to claim Indian food as “British.” British traditional food is fatty/greasy, salty, tasteless and boring. You had the Empire on Which the Sun Never Set to find a decent meal. Your chocolate sucks too (compared to Swiss or German). Not into the Royals either, though I acknowledge that many Americans are as fascinated with them as they are with celebrity in general. Otherwise the list is correct but missing: “American women love British men.” Sean, Richard, David, Benedict, Hugh, Michael, Clive, Gary, Christian, Jude, Alan, Tom, Colin, etc., etc. etc., are proof the Gods love women and want them to be happy.

    (At least in the vein that this list was compiled. If we want ot get into your History and literature, that is another discussion entirely.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.hintz.92 Amy Hintz

    Tim Roth should be on this list. We love Tim Roth

  • Tea & Crumpets

    Fascinators

  • Mark

    I love Hershey’s Kisses- and while I love England-I’m hoping that the grey piece of meat known as mutton has been outlawed as a crime against humanity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathryn.kelly.35 Kathryn Kelly

    I loved the two years I lived in the UK and would go back in a heartbeat….I love the Royal family, the television, the donor kebabs, pubs, Boots, black taxis, the National Health Service (as an uninsured American), and the loads of history. There isn’t much I didn’t like about it, other than the exchange rate for my US dollars, lol.

  • Delia

    I’m a Californian, but I think this list is totally spot on!
    Love that British accent.
    I would just move the music up to the 2nd spot.
    And add Tom Hiddleston to the movie villan list.

    • Stormy Starlight

      Oh YES!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.hintz.92 Amy Hintz

    Don’t forget tim roth, we love tim roth.

  • English Caribbean Queen

    I am a Brit, born in England. I have lived in the States for 32 years and have to say, nothing has changed about the way I speak or my British ways. When I order a chicken sandwich at Wendy’s I always throw them off when I ask them to add a slice of tomatoe in it. Huh, dur!!!! is what I get. I refuse to speak like an American. At work I throw people off with my half past and quarter past. I love being British in the U.S. Americans like my English accent, but I don’t think they like my brutal honesty. If it’s made in England or Britain, you know it’s good. Americans, please learn the Queens English!

    • Elizabeth Bennett

      A little Irish feck off

    • MrsFizzy

      Hilarious. My husband has confused people by referring to “midday”. But 32 years… come on, secretly you must love it here, or is it just that you can keep up a feeling of superiority??

  • Lynne Davis

    I asked for “water” in a restaurant recently and was asked “what’s that”? Apparently, I should have asked for “wadder”

    • MrsFizzy

      *Cringe*… It happens. A friend of ours who’s very well spoken repeatedly asked in plain RP for a bottle of water in Las Vegas and got no where until she said “Can I have a boddle-awadder?” 9_9 You do wonder sometimes.

  • Laura Mc

    You forgot James Bond….I love the British for the glorious way they make the English language sound (since I am from NJ where is is butchered every day), your history and your patriotism….I have to admit though I struggle with the humor bus still catch reruns of MI-5 – great show. And one more thing – I have yet to see an unattractive English man on either side of the Atlantic!

  • Maynard B.

    Dear Ms. Margolis, regarding item #10 (swearing) there is a quality you Brits possess which makes vulgarities rather charming. I recall a time when I purchased a small truck (Lorry!) from a British gentleman (who bore an amazing resemblance to Patrick MacNee.) He was kind enough to take me to the motor vehicle department to register the truck. During the brief drive, we came upon the traffic of yard sale. This gentleman explosively uttered, “Goddamned yard sales, should be fucking outlawed!” Despite his cursing, my wife and I burst out with laughter due to the fact that this man had retained a certain dignity while swearing that Americans (particularly myself) have yet to master.

  • Pedro

    Hey … Who says the Brits dont love and admire the Royal family (the Windsors) … perhaps a visit to UK during the Queens Jubilee celebrations would have been educative and changed that view once and fo all. There was almost universal and genuine outpouring of enthusiasm for the Queen et al.. However the BBC has always had a lefty and nego view on the Brits and the Royals … which now appears to be thankfully changing. PS Didnt you see HM The Queen banter with James (Bond of course) and arrive at the Olympics by parashute .. Like to see Bushy, Barmy or Romanus do the same!!
    PPS Love the NJ and Bronx accent .. really cute. From a Brit in NYC.. .

  • http://twitter.com/kikiandkyle Jen

    It’s a shame they don’t love our music enough to put Radio 1 back on Sirius.

    • Chastity

      so agree!!! i luv chris moyles and scott mills… i so miss them!!

  • Sean

    Fenton the Dog was actually filmed in Ireland and not the UK…

    • Dee

      Wrong, Fenton was filmed in Richmond Park, where I live :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.carroll.188 Susan Carroll

    I just watched Fenton the Dog for the first time. I can’t stop laughing! Jesus CHRIST!

  • Val

    Same here. My English boss has expanded my vocabulary nicely!

  • Val

    I personally hate . It’s just as blah as the chocolates we produce. I do love your Green and Blacks Organic if I am not just making my own. Yes, my Mennonite neighbors taught me how to make my own chocolate bars. Scandalous ;-).

    • Val

      Not sure where my Cadbury went to. But that’s what I was referring to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1154034165 Barbara Berman

    of course that fenton dog is funny. any nationality would think that’s funny. Hershey’s uses sour milk not spoiled that would make people sick. love the chocolate of creme egg but not the creme. your swearing are just normal words to us. don’t care about royals and hate that your taxes go to them but then again our taxes go to the corporate leaches here. love Doctor Who can’t wait for new ep. loved Coupling, great to see Richard Coyle in Covert Affairs now. love Queen, The Who, Led Zep, hate the new club music. love the accent but Aussie’s the best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Clark/100001338320898 Jennifer Clark

    Oh, I do love British TV (Doctor Who is my favorite show now) and humor (I watched Keeping Up Appearances and Vicar of Dibley when I was a kid, and I also love Monty Python). I also use British swearing a bit (I say “bloody” and “wanker” all the time), and I love the music (think British Invasion era).

  • Dave Hawley

    As a Geordie in Missouri, I find it useful to be able to blast away with a “hadaway and shite” or a “shite up a hight” with impunity. Other phrases that would get me a punch on the nose in Newcastle on a Saturday night simply get me uncomprehending or “isn’t he cute” type of looks. I’m not sure that I like it really.

  • mellie

    After 20 years in London as a journalist in the City, I have a colourful potty mouth. It is NOT appreciated in New England, and I get some very haughty looks. Had to tone it down. :-(

  • Blancmange

    How did “Hot British Babes” not make the list?

  • Ailurophile

    I’ve been a huge fan of Alan Rickman for years. I just love him as a bad guy, but he does comedy well too (Galaxy Quest). I don’t use profanity much, so it’s nice to use “bloody” when I need to. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where Monty Python found its American audience. I remember a sketch on The Carol Burnett show where she approached Michael Caine and told him that because of his accent, he could get away with anything.
    And let’s not forget Malcolm McDowell as a bad guy! He was so e-ville in Tank Girl!

  • Naegleria Fowleri

    Ado! I lurve your Hampshire White Tiger spreadin’ out so far and wide. I get allergic smelling Beast of Bodmin, hey! Dah-ling I love you, but give me the lion of St. Osyth, in the southeastern English county of Essex as the place for tea. Green Acres are the ventromedial area of me prefrontal cortex in me brain — a softball-sized lobe in the front of me head — and bearskins damaged myelin are belonged to us!

  • barblibrarian

    Men, men, men. There is nothing in America like a British male. Nothing sexier than the accent, the grooming, the manners, even the swearing…

    • Stormy Starlight

      Hear, hear! MMmmm….I love me some British men!

  • rachel fortney

    Very true. Especially the TV shows and bad guys. I’m a major whovian (fan of doctor who) and rickmaniac(fan of Alan rickman), which are both very refreshing when compared against, say, jersey shore and Edward Cullen (who I am aware isn’t the bad guy, but I just don’t like him)

  • Jimmy Jo

    Dr. Who baby!!!! Best show ever

  • Jess

    To us Americans(well at least me) when you use swear words like bloody it’s just hilarious. The first time I heard it I laughed for a few minutes. I’ve taken to using it because its not a bad swear word to us at all. I don’t know if it is to you.

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