10 British Flavors Americans Will Never Widely Appreciate

Marmite: an acquired taste. (Photo: Newscast Limited via AP Images)

Marmite: an acquired taste. (Photo: Newscast Limited via AP Images)

Always remember, dear reader, that one foodie’s weird is another foodie’s wonderful.

Let us begin with perhaps the most obvious flavor of all: Marmite. So polarizing is the sharp saltiness of Marmite’s assault on the senses that even the brand’s own advertising slogan admits, “You either love it or hate it.” Marmite is a yeast extract spread, a by-product of the beer brewing process, and is eaten on toast or bread with some butter. In a sandwich, it pairs pretty well with cucumber, which neutralizes Marmite’s zing. Newcomers should spread lightly, for Marmite is at once pungent, penetrating and powerful, like if soy sauce and A-1 had a bastard child and fed it nothing but wasabi.

Prawn cocktail flavored chips
Chips (or crisps as they’re known in Blighty) are the most commonly eaten snack in the U.K. with Brits consuming around six billion packets per year. There are literally hundreds of exotic flavors to choose from (pickled onion, flame grilled steak, roast beef, to name a few), but prawn cocktail seems to be the seasoning that our American friends find the quaintest.

Crisp sandwiches
A crisp sandwich (colloquially known as a crisp butty) is when you sprinkle some of your eccentrically flavored crisps between two slices of bread and chow down. In fact, most Brits think nothing of making a sandwich out of anything that happens to be lying around the kitchen: banana sandwiches, ketchup sandwiches, salad cream sandwiches, cheese and jam sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches… all you need is some bread and a dream.

Kedgeree is an Indian-influenced buttery rice dish made with flaked fish, hard-boiled egg, parsley, and curry powder. When I was a boy, my mother would occasionally serve it up for dinner. I hated it. I hated it so much, in fact, that it led me to the discovery that if I held my nose while chewing I couldn’t taste its foulness. But as a Brit, I’m in the minority because kedgeree is a national dish on a par with toad in the hole and bangers and mash. I was unaware until recently that kedgeree is traditionally a breakfast dish. An American friend had seen it on a brunch menu during a business trip to London and decided to give it a whirl. “Big mistake” was his two-word review.

Fry’s Turkish Delight
Imagine sipping on a bottle of cheap perfume while nibbling on chocolate, and you’re somewhere close to what a bar of Fry’s Turkish Delight tastes like. This sweet is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, so they must be doing something right.

Such is the remarkable popularity of Irn-Bru in its native Scotland that it outsells both Coca-Cola and Pepsi. In the 1980s, the drink’s tagline was “Made in Scotland from girders.” If that isn’t enough to put you off, then perhaps its luminous orange color will be. The taste? It’s sort of citrusy with a hint of ginger that leaves a long lingering finish; the kind that’s only weird if you didn’t grow up with it.

Chips and curry sauce
And by “chips,” I mean fries, and by “curry sauce,” I mean yummy. This dish is a staple of British fish and chip shops and is particularly satisfying as a late-night, post-pub snack. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, for this sweet and spicy condiment complements perfectly the savory fries.

Chips and vinegar
While we’re on the subject of chips, we must of course address the fact that Brits douse their fries in vinegar. Americans find this little corner of the British palate frightfully foreign.

This alcoholic drink has certainly got a kick to it. It’s one part beer, one part cider and an optional splash of blackcurrant cordial. Because it’s cheap to make and quick to intoxicate, Snakebite is particularly popular amongst students, and it’s actually rather refreshing on a hot summer’s day. If you like beer and you like cider, then you can’t really go wrong (unless you drink 18 pints).

Earl Grey tea
In the opening line of Sting’s 1987 hit “Englishman in New York,” the former Police front man croons, “I don’t drink coffee, I take tea my dear.” And although Mr. Sumner doesn’t mention specifically what type of tea, he is surely a fellow of refined taste, one with a penchant for the floral notes and bergamot aroma of Earl Grey. This flavoring is perhaps a little too distinctive for Americans, who generally prefer their tea sweet.

@MindtheGap_BBCA is live-tweeting England’s World Cup matches, starting with England vs. Italy on Saturday, June 14 at 6 pm ET. Tweet along using hashtag #MindTheChat for a chance to win Doctor Who Season 7 on DVD.

See more:
Think British Food Is Boring? 9 Dishes That Will Change Your Mind
A Matter of Taste: An Expat on Differences Between British and American Palates
Five British Soft Drinks Every American Should Try

Jon B&W headshot

Jon Langford

Jon Langford is a British expat living in NYC where he is often asked if he’s Australian on account of his Yorkshire accent. He is a freelance copywriter and journalist, and has been published in many sports and pop culture outlets including Major League Soccer, Time Out magazine, Inked magazine and Smitten by Britain. As bassist of alternative rock group The Chevin he has toured the world over, appearing on Conan, the Late Show with David Letterman and Last Call with Carson Daly. Follow him on Twitter at @Jon_LangfordNYC.
View all posts by Jon Langford.
  • Ryan

    What on earth is Kedgeree? I’ve never heard of it before, and I’m about as British as you can get xD

    • JustSayin’

      I’ve never heard it before either, but it has been 24 years since I lived in England. It’s probably a recent introduction to the Anglo-Indian food scene. Looks good though.

      • http://tonisummershargis.com/ Toni Hargis

        It’s actually an older dish (usually served at breakfast) that has somewhat gone out of fashion. It has Indian origins and is thought to have been brought back to the UK by the Colonials. V popular in Victorian times.

        • JustSayin’

          Thanks for the info, Toni. I think my introduction to Indian food in the 80’s was primarily the typical “post-night-out” dishes (Madras, Rogan Josh, Korma, etc). I didn’t venture into breakfast food. Anyway, I may try to make it myself. Living in the US, there aren’t any Indian restaurants open for breakfast.

  • Christine Porter

    Chips and vinegar are known as Boardwalk Fries in Delaware and are very popular.

  • Laurie Daiken

    Many of these flavors are ‘foreign’ to me, but I’m a red – blooded American that loves Earl Grey and malt vinegar on chips. I’ll have to give some of the others a try.

    • Sazzy

      Earl Grey AND malt vinegar on your chips – my oh my, that sounds delicious!

  • http://widescreen.org OAR_John

    Although I can’t disagree with the majority of this list, you guys are aware that vinegar and chips can be found in lots of places in the US including its own variety of potato chips/crisps, right? I can run down to my local grocers and buy a bag of “vinegar and salt” potato chips right now.

    • Wendy

      it means putting malt vinegar on chips(fries).

      • http://widescreen.org OAR_John

        Even at that, a lot of restaurants (actual restaurants, not the fast food joints) offer vinegar on the table for that same reason. If it’s not on the table, most have it available on request. So, it’s not as rare in the US as you might think.

        • JustSayin’

          The article is not about how “rare” something is. It is about classic British flavors that are preferred by the British rather than Americans. You can’t tell me that every American douses their chips with vinegar (even if it is available everywhere), but you can certainly say that of the British.

          • Brian Lewis

            No, but it is certainly common enough that it qualifies as a British taste that is “widely appreciated” in America. The same goes with Sandwiches, the deli sandwich shops may be homogeneous, but for the average American at home in his or her kitchen it’s ANYTHING goes for sandwiches, just like the Brits right down to potato chip sandwiches, ketchup sandwiches, mayo sandwiches, if it can fit between two slices of bread it’s fair game for a sandwich no matter how bizarre

          • JustSayin’

            True. Perhaps the author’s use of the term “widely appreciate” may be a bit misleading. I’m guessing he was intending to make a point that some of the items on the list that are nationally loved in Britain, won’t ever have an “overall” acceptance in the US, even if a healthy few may appreciate them (kind of like soccer in the US). BTW vinegar on fries is probably not the best example to use, but Marmite definitely is.

          • Brian Lewis

            I think the author may have just assumed a couple of the foods/drinks would seem bizarre to Americans. Earl Grey is one of the most common hot teas here. We don’t have a Tea Time tradition but we consume tea in mass quantities, hot & cold.

            I agree wholeheartedly about Marmite, IDK how Marmite compares to Vegemite but I have tasted Vegemite and that stuff is demon spawn in a jar to the American palate, however I wouldn’t pass up the chance to try Marmite if the opportunity ever arose.

          • CuriousTraveler66

            Demon spawn — good one! Vegemite and Marmite both.

          • feijigirl

            it’s very common here in New England.

          • CuriousTraveler66

            Given that potato chips/crisps are an American invention, I’m betting Brits didn’t even have them before WW I, perhaps not until after WW II, so how ‘classic’ can prawn-flavored crisps be? For that matter, half the planet now eats crisps/chips in varying flavors. I’ll bet they have some pretty wild flavors in Mumbai and SE Asia, and heaven only knows about Africa …

          • JustSayin’

            What are you rambling on about??? It’s about the flavor of the chips, not the actual chips/crisps themselves! BTW Americans may have invented chips, however the first flavored chips were first created by Tayto, an Irish company.

      • john_koenig

        Not a rarity at all in the US and in fact a staple at chains such as Five Guys.

      • Lex110

        Actually it’s traditionally non-brewed condiment vinegar rather than malt. Used to be you could buy bottles of it at the chippy, the flavour lasts longer than malt.

  • znachki

    Only Marmite and Earl Grey tea make the no go list for me. I don’t like any flowery teas (jasmine, blech). As for Marmite, that’s pretty much something you have to grow up on. I know many Brits who dislike peanut butter, while most Americans think it’s yummy.

  • harryeagar

    Some Americans know some of those flavors. I live in Hawaii and I had Earl Grey tea at the coffee shop before going to work this morning, and we have prawn chips, though we call them prawn crackers.

    • JustSayin’

      Prawn crackers are a completely different flavor to prawn cocktail crisps.

    • frozen01

      I can’t remember ever being someplace that sold tea and *didn’t* offer Earl Grey. It’s actually a really popular blend in the US.

  • MRadclyffe

    Blackcurrant instead of grape, please. And… My wife, who is American and lived in London for five years, wants fresh pitta and naan bread as “it’s all stale” in the USA.

    • Argon

      No Indian restaurants in your neighborhood? Ours make it fresh.

      • MRadclyffe

        One, but alas and alack, we aren’t wealthy enough to go here as often as we could afford takeaway in London.

    • frozen01

      Blackcurrant is my nectar of the gods. Seriously, I love anything… anything… that has blackcurrant in it, and if anyone so much as glances funny at my Vimto, they better prepare to defend themselves 😉

      • CuriousTraveler66

        Hey, Twinings makes an excellent black currant flavored black tea that I get at my grocery in Chicago — it makes great iced tea! And I can get Polish black currant syrup for my pancakes from the ethnic deli down the street. Black currants are not unknown here; they’re just less popular than red currants. And the French are crazy about black currants, too, as are northeastern Europeans on the Baltic Sea, so I don’t think they’re particularly British.

  • jane

    I’m American, live in the US and have been drinking Earl Grey teas for most of my 50 years. It’s available in every supermarket and is well known among tea drinkers here. “Sweet tea” is mainly a southern US drink and is served iced.

    • Ginger Crawford

      I drink both!

    • Thor

      i drink almost any tea from sweat tea southern style to Chinese herbal tea the one that i had smelt like honey

  • John H Harris

    Must disagree with most of this. While I’m not a fan of Marmite, the somewhat similar Vegemite is one of my favorite “exotic” flavors.

    Prawn crackers, while hard to find, are an addiction. Indeed, despite being made by Lays, Walker’s meat flavors are almost impossible to find here for less than extortion-level prices, despite being amazingly tasty.

    Chips (fries to us) and vinegar and Earl Grey tea are two items which are staples on my palate. I’ve been eating the former since I was little and one Jean-Luc Picard turned me on to the latter (though I prefer mine iced, rather than hot… an American twist, I admit).

    And I’m still looking for an American-made beer that can hold a candle to either Brains or Marsden’s…

  • Amber Riley

    I’ve had 8 of the 10 things on this list, and love them. The only 2 I haven’t had…Snakebite and Fry’s Turkish delight…though I’ve had other kinds of Turkish delight, and I love it. Earl Grey is my favorite tea, and I LOVE Marmite and cheddar sandwiches. Maybe I’m just weird for an American then?

  • Diguitr

    Fresh french fries with malt vinegar is a staple on the (New) Jersey shore.

  • Kellykins

    Actually, vinegar on fries (chips) is very common in the US.

    • JustSayin’

      Actually, “common” would mean most people in the US would put it on their chips and this is not the case. Maybe regionally, but not nationally.

      • punkins

        Actually “common” mean it happens frequently and doesn’t necessarily imply the majority. On that note, she’s right, it is quite common in the U.S. You know, just sayin’…

        • JustSayin’

          Punkins, thanks for the attempted lesson in grammar. Common by definition means “often” or “prevalent.” Are you seriously saying that Americans “often” put vinegar on their fries?? That it is prevalent to do so?? Hardly. If it’s so common/prevalent, try asking for vinegar next time you order fries at MacDonalds. They will tell you “it’s not ‘often’ we get that request.” JustSayin’

          • Angie Poole

            I was 30 before I’d ever heard of anybody putting malt vinegar on fries. I was encouraged to try it, and it wasn’t bad, but as far as common goes, I’ve still only seen it once (it probably happens somewhat frequently at that particular hot dog restaurant, since they had it sitting out, but it’s still the only place and only time I’d observed it).

          • punkins

            Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s certainly not the most common condiment to use with chips/fries but it is common. And I don’t eat at McDonalds. It barely passes for food. There are hundreds of thousands of restaurants in the U.S. of varying quality and many of them offer vinegar for chips/fries.

          • JustSayin’

            :-) I only mention McDonalds to illustrate the fact that they are the largest producer of french fries in the US. It was not a comment on their food quality (you’re right, it’s not the best food the world has known). However, there is a reason they don’t serve vinegar in their “restaurants.” Don’t you think if vinegar was commonly consumed with french fries (and common consumption, not availability, is really the issue here) they would carry it? I wouldn’t say this food combination is obscure or unusual in the US, but I wouldn’t say it’s common either, meaning it is not widely appreciated. It’s obvious that you believe there is a substantial populous of chips and vinegar users in the US. Maybe it is based on it being popular where you live in the US. But, I on the other hand, based on my interactions with others and with restaurants throughout the US do not agree that it is common as a whole. As a side note, I wished that some of the things on the author’s list were more common in the US. Check out my own list in the comments and let me know what you think.

          • punkins

            I believe it’s enough of an overall appreciation to warrant being considered common. If you really want to get technical, consider that ketchup is made with vinegar. I do realize it’s not the same thing though. To be honest I refuse to get fish and chips in a restaurant that doesn’t have malt vinegar. It’s a sure sign it won’t be very good.

            My only point is that “Vinegar on chips” could have been replaced by something far less common, like, for instance, black and white pudding. I love that stuff but it’s really hard to find in the states unless you know a place that specializes in food from the U.K.

          • frozen01

            True, but availability aside, this is an article about flavors we (Americans) will never appreciate.
            Black pudding and white pudding are good candidates not just because they’re difficult to find, but because your average American would likely find them a bit stomach-churning.

      • Kellykins

        My statement is correct. It is very common.

        • JustSayin’

          Um… ok. So, what you’re saying is, it’s not just common (prevalent), it’s “very” common (very prevalent). Lol. Thanks for clearing that up. :)

  • Miggle

    Kedgeree always sounded and looked interesting, but since most fish I’ve found has a taste and consistency similar to wet newspaper and boiled eggs frankly nauseate me, I’ll have to leave it alone. American though I am, I do like Earl Grey – it’s one of my favorite things to drink during the winter, it’s very bracing, and the smell of the tea is wonderful.

  • damo

    I also enjoy Earl Grey tea. It’s my second favorite

  • http://jeffontheair.wordpress.com Jeff

    Why on Earth would you reference Sting when talking about Earl Grey Tea and not Captain Jean-Luc Picard?

    • shadow5d

      ‘Cause he’s the one who sang about tea?

      • http://jeffontheair.wordpress.com Jeff

        But he didn’t even sing about specifically Earl Grey tea. Captain Picard’s drink of choice was “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.”

        • shadow5d

          I’m apparently not enough of a Star Trek Next Generation fan. I did not know that. Of course, that might be why Picard wasn’t referenced. The author might have felt Sting had resonance with more readers.

          • Ranelagh

            But Picard is supposed to be French anyway, and neither British or American, so it wouldn’t make much sense.

          • Jwb52z

            Picard as a character may have been French, but the actor who plays him is a freaking Knight, so I’d think people would know his roles by now, but maybe not.

          • alkh3myst

            Well, he doesn’t SOUND terribly French…

    • Ewan Tristan Booth

      I agree that Picard would be a more logical reference. Actually, Sting was singing, not about himself in that song, but about Quentin Crisp, who was an Englishman living in New York at the time (RIP).

    • alkh3myst

      “Tea, Earl Grey, HOT!”

  • http://msmith13.wordpress.com/ Mark

    Earl Grey is on my list of things that smell funny but taste lovely—in contrast with coffee, which tastes crap but smells wonderful. But I’m also hooked on ordinary English or Irish Breakfast tea, although the tea leaves smell to me like a barn full of hay.

    • frozen01

      English/Irish Breakfast is one of my favorites, too. Scottish Breakfast is just delightful, but my heart will always be with Yorkshire Gold :)

  • Anne Dobriko

    I <3 Irn-Bru!! =D I found it at a Scottish festival in Maine once. I think my bottle said, 'Made in Scotland. From rivets'. =) I've always been fond of Earl Grey tea as well. =)

    • frozen01

      From girders, perhaps?

  • Lourdes Barrio Manning

    I am Cuban-American and we Caribbenses (Cubans and Puerto Ricans) have a soda that must be the equivalent of IrnBru. Its called ironBeer ( pronounced e-ron-bear) your description of the taste is spot on. We love it, as we grew up with it, but most others cannot handle more than 1 can at a sitting. It is kinda different stuff.

  • Sara Lee

    While I do enjoy reading about most of the topics presented on this site I find it beyond frustrating when the UK authors say things like Americans never…, Americans always…, Americans don’t…, Americans can’t… If the purpose of this blog is indeed “A Brit’s guide to surviving America” then you are doing a disservice to paint life in the US with such a broad brush. It’s no wonder Americans get annoyed and feel the need to set things straight here with their comments.

    • JustSayin’

      I think you’re taking this article a little too seriously. 😉 But isn’t it true anyway that most Americans will “never” embrace these flavors? The author is simply stating the obvious.

      • frozen01

        In my opinion, no, it isn’t true.

        Snakebite is a drink offered by Tilted Kilt, a large restaurant chain with “93 locations and 27 in development” that is kind of like a Scottish version of Hooters. I’ve seen it offered at a couple other more independent locales, as well, but this is the most prominent. I’ve even seen them on the menu at outdoor festivals. (I’d never thought of adding blackcurrant cordial and can’t wait to try that out!)

        Earl Grey is an extremely popular blend that can be found at almost any place that sells tea. I host afternoon teas in the Chicago area, and Earl Grey has always been the most-requested blend.

        Irn Bru is probably the most popular foreign soda behind Mexican cola.

        In some regions of the US, it’s quite common to put vinegar on your fries.

        So to say that most Americans would never embrace these flavors is a stretch.

        • JustSayin’

          I wouldn’t say that British drinks served at a British-themed restaurant necessarily means it has been embraced nationwide, even with 93 locations, unless of course you’re suggesting that every customer orders a snakebite. 😉

          I agree with you about Earl Grey though (and some other things on the list actually). It has certainly gained much acceptance here in the US. In fact, even in England, Earl Grey very much takes a back seat to English Breakfast tea.

          I’m not so sure about Irn Bru being as popular as you think though. I was born in England and lived there 20 years before moving to the US. In England it was available in literally every grocery store and corner shop. Having lived in the US for 24 years now, I have only seen Irn Bru sold in British shops (which are far and few between). Perhaps It’s a regional thing and there is a higher concentration of British expats where you live.

          Anyway, I’m not saying a totally agree with the author about everything on the list. My point is that just because a “fair amount” of Americans who are open to exploring another culture’s cuisine (such as yourself) doesn’t mean it is “widely accepted.”

          Thanks for the healthy banter. :)

          • frozen01

            Perhaps, but I wouldn’t say that a drink served in a restaurant with over 100 current and pending locations and at music festivals counts as a flavor that “Americans will never appreciate” or “Americans will never embrace”. Not every customer orders it, of course, but not every customer orders Guinness, either, and if they didn’t sell a fair share of them, they wouldn’t be on the menu.

            “Widely accepted”, however, is a completely different discussion. That, as with many things in the States, is just a matter of marketing 😉

          • JustSayin’

            I can certainly agree with your point about what Americans will or will not appreciate. I don’t think the author is giving the American reader a fair shake and there are better examples of what wouldn’t be embraced here in the US (take a look at my personal list I posted elsewhere in the comments). One side note though: The difference between selling a snakebite and selling a Guinness is that Guinness is a name brand of stout, whereas a snake bite is a concoction of two beverages that are easily found in virtually every bar (lager and cider). So, it’s an easy thing to have on the menu without incurring any additional expense, much like selling a “black and tan” or a “shandy”(lager and Sprite).

            Anyway, I think these articles are written from the perspective of “British pride” with an attempt to show Americans a unique or undiscovered aspect to British culture. Brits are proud of it and Americans love some of the quirkiness of it. It doesn’t always play out as intended though (as is evidenced by numerous commenters who seemingly have already embraced many of the British traditions that were listed).


          • Brian Lewis

            I think with Earl Grey it’s been here in the U.S. almost as long as Earl Grey Tea has been around so we started importing it right away because: yummy!

            With Vinegar on chips or fries I don’t think it was particularly popular until the advent of cable tv, and while we didn’t get an actual BBC station until 1998, various BBC television series have been televised (Dr Who and Monty Python for a couple of older examples) so over time people starting trying some of the things they saw the Brits doing in the tv shows and it slowly spread to where we are today, we still love our Ketchup by and large, so I think that even though it’s widely enjoyed here it’s still not the same level as the Brits, for us it’s just tasty treat, few eat it that way exclusively, if I understand Brits it’s the kind of combination that probably falls under the category of comfort food.

          • CuriousTraveler66

            I’d rather have jelly babies than Marmite any day.

          • CuriousTraveler66

            100 locations in a nation with 300 million residents means zip. You know nothing, Jon Snow! ;D

        • CuriousTraveler66

          No, I’m sorry — Irn Bru may have a following here, but it’s a minuscule one. And I think you’re wrong about the Mexican cola: it’s a LOT more popular; there are significantly more Mexicans here than British ex-pats, and the number is growing daily. For that matter, I can get Mexican sodas and horchata in my lily-white Eastern European neighborhood at the supermarket, and the Mexican food section dwarfs the one small shelf they have for British specialties like HP Sauce and salad cream. No Irn Bru here.

    • Michael Sweet

      You make this article seem pro xenophobia. They are just saying that these flavors and tastes are something that most British won’t find often at a restaurant, I know of a few places that offer quite a few of these things but out of all of the places there are to eat in America that probably adds up to less than 5%. And they are right to say some of these just wont catch up just like in other places eating spiders and other stuff won’t catch. Food is one of the best ways to make someone feel at home I feel like this is all that the article was trying to state and we need to stop looking at it like they are trying to bash us for not having these options so openly

    • Phillip

      Never and always are always a red flag, but the article is fun and need not be taken that seriously.

  • Terry

    “Chips and vinegarWhile we’re on the subject of chips, we must of course address the fact that Brits douse their fries in vinegar. Americans find this little corner of the British palate frightfully foreign.”

    I grew up in Maryland and have been eating malt vinegar on french fries all of my life. You can find bottles of malt vinegar at any hamburger place or any place that specializes in french fries.

    • Belinda Gaas

      Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips!!! My dad is from New Mexico brought the family to this restaurant in Maryland Pennsylvania and this is mostly how I prefer my chips :-) I also love a good curry on my chips…757 in Glasgow has a lovely sauce for this treat!!!! and i can handle prawn crisps at times!

  • kdoc13

    Born in the USA, but so many things on here I love. A bit of Marmite in Beef Flavored Ramen noodles is incredible. And Marmite and toast, with the right beer, is great too. And Irn-Bru is one of those rare treats I can only get when we make the pilgrimage to the foreign grocery store.

    • JustSayin’

      There was actually a special edition version of Marmite made with Guinness a few years back.

  • Steve McClain

    I’ve drank Irn-Bru already. It’s not bad. I’ve also put vinegar on my fries/chips.

  • Jess

    Maybe not widely, but I don’t think some of those are that weird and a few tries and they grow on you. I live in the UK, but am American and it did not take me long at all to love Earl Grey. The thing I find more off putting is the milky, sugary ‘ordinary’ British tea experience. Earl Grey is the one typically consumed British tea I do like being more of a green tea drinker most of the time. I put more vinegar on my chips than my English husband by a long shot and I’ve loved prawn cocktail crisps since I first tried them. They taste like ketchup more than anything and most Americans love ketchup. I think if properly introduced there, it could do well. And I don’t have it very often, but when I do, curry sauce and chips are excellent. Marmite on the other hand, agreed. It’s just weird. I don’t know that I fully consider it a food. Why anyone would put it on toast instead of some nice jam, I have no idea.

  • Gman

    Actually Earl Grey is extremely popular here. Grocery stores even have multiple brands. I’m as American as apple pie. I’ve been drinking hot and iced versions for years. It’s delicious.

  • James L. McGrath

    Earl Grey is my favorite tea. I find “Sweet Tea” loathsome. Might as well just drink corn syrup. Chips and Malt Vinegar with sea salt is a treat but can be delicious. Prawn chips are pretty common if you’ve ever lived in or near an Asian neighborhood anywhere. As for Marmite, well, that is a learned taste but then here in PA people eat Scrapple (ground pig liver) for breakfast.

    • Ginger Crawford

      Someone puts too much sugar in the sweet tea then. I hate it over-sweetened.

  • Michala Whitford

    I’m from Rhode Island, and I have always put vinegar on my french fries.

  • Carly R Everett Phillips

    Having lived in Britian 2 times I can say alot of these things yes I do like and apprechiate, – some no, some never had like Snakebite ( dont drink) or Kedgeree- even my British husband has not heard of that one though I have, but never tried ( dont think I will) I know I dont like Marmite been to the Brewing factory in Cheltenham once where the excess yeast goes to making it… yeah oh so yummy not. :) But Pawn cocktail- yum, turkish delight yum ( comes in two forms, a candy bar like one and in a box with squares of it with powdered sugar)

  • LDG

    Chips(fries) with vinegar is a very east coast and beach-y thing in the US. You won’t find it many other places than that but it’s a quite popular treat on the boardwalk (thus the brand name Boardwalk Fries) of the east coast shores.

    • john_koenig

      Five Guys…all 2000 locations nationwide.

      • creatifiny

        Yes, even here in the south where people put ketchup or ranch dressing on everything, malt vinegar on Five Guys fries is delish.

  • Mary Dale Mahaffey

    I am an 11th generation american and Earl Grey tea is one of my favorites.

  • Sara

    The last three things are pretty common in the US.

  • Jason Brown

    I’d say most of those except the marmite I see eaten in the u.s. On a regular basis. I don’t think you give our taste buds enough credit

    • Robert Ritchie

      I’m Scottish, and I think Marmite is disgusting LOL

  • niamh17

    I love prawn coctail crisps, but strangely not the real thing! I also love pickled onion monster munch!! I havent had either for ages though but did have some frys turkish delight at Christmas as my Sister sent me some, bless her!

  • Pamheld

    Hmmm…perhaps in the American South people like their tea sweet, but most drink it black. I’ve always loved Earl Grey (except when they tweaked the blend a bit). Vinegar and chips (fries) are a treat most of us first tried at County fairs. I tried Marmite but……that’s definitely an acquired taste!

  • Cheyenne

    I tried Marmite on a dare once. It looks exactly like axle grease and tastes exactly what I would imagine axle grease tastes like. Never again. I’d rather starve to death.

    OTOH prawn chips and chips with curry sauce sound interesting, and since I like rice I wouldn’t mind sampling kedgeree.

  • Thomas Austin

    Earl Grey is my favorite, and while chips and vinegar is foreign to a lot of people, there are salt and vinegar potato chips (read: crisp). Actually, there are places in the US, mostly on the East Coast I’ve noticed, where chips/fries and vinegar aren’t unheard of. I only like them with malt vinegar, though, but white vinegar if I can’t get malt.

  • Paul Dettmann

    I live in Wisconsin..
    I like earl grey but I only drink it sweetened with honey. it is definitely an acquired taste. the first time I tried it, it was kind of like drinking cologne (I actually bought some bergamot oil to use as cologne because I like the smell so much)

    irn-bru sounds delicious. if I ever get a chance to try it, I will.

    vinegar on fries isn’t that strange at all. we usually dip fries in ketchup, which is like half vinegar.

    • frozen01

      Irn Bru is delicious. I think it’s unfair to say that Americans would never appreciate it. I think many would, it’s just not sold very widely and can be somewhat difficult to find.

  • NotBuyingItEvenForADollar

    You’ve left off that wonderful sandwich (or jacket potato) filling (Branson’s) pickle and cheddar. Yum!

    • Thomas Austin

      That actually sounds really good. I’m assuming jacket potato is a baked potato?

      • NotBuyingItEvenForADollar

        You got it right!

    • http://tonisummershargis.com/ Toni Hargis

      Branston’s is god’s gift to sandwiches and everything else!

  • Argon

    American married to a Brit. Kinda,sorta like Marmite (and Gentlemen’s Relish.) LOVE my Earl Grey!!! Live on it. Crisps on sandwiches? Not just a Brit thing. Midwestern casseroles (and sandwiches.) Prawn Cocktail crisps? Call it Shrimp Cocktail chips and Americans will dig in. Yeah – not doing the Kedgeree thing – that’s what years of Colonialism will do to you. Same with chips and curry sauce (although I put those and Snakebite down to pissed students.) Fry’s Turkish Delight has been around for 100 years but probably because the original lot is still on offer. Irn-Bru? I’ll give you that – saw it, wouldn’t touch it.

  • Heather Mazzola

    Chips/fries with vinegar is done in the US too.

  • Ginger Crawford

    I’m American and I drink Earl Grey daily and so does some of my friends and acquaintances. I also take vinegar with my fries. Is marmite like vegemite? If it is I’d like it. I’m also a southerner so it’s not unusual to find a glass of sweet tea with lemon and a cup of Earl Grey on my coffee table at the same time.

    • JustSayin’

      Yes, Marmite is very similar to Vegemite. Marmite is the original yeast spread and Vegemite is the Australian, lighter-tasting, knock off. :) Basically the same though.

  • dave

    Ya know, we do put malt vinegar on fish and chips. it’s not that unusual.

  • Dora A Swenston

    I love Earl Grey tea – can’t stand sweet tea.

  • FiachSidhe

    Malt Vinegar is common in the USA for fried fish and chips. We even have Long John Silver a fast food place with packets of malt vinegar handed out like ketchup.

    Also chip/crisp sandwiches? We do that too. I used to eat mayonnaise sandwiches as a kid. That’s not really an English thing.

    Nerds now love Earl Grey tea due to Star Trek’s Captain Picard.

    • Angie Poole

      I’ve never observed vinegar packets at Long John Silver’s, and I know some fast food places only carry certain items regionally, so maybe that’s not something they do everywhere.

      • FiachSidhe

        So? The point is, it’s in America.

  • Riviellan

    I learned about Earl Grey Tea, not from Sting, but from Captain Picard, who, I risk to say, is cooler than Sting.

  • Sevenpenny

    the sandwich thing…. i have done stuff like that for years. Spaghetti sandwich…. mashed potato sandwich… I even put potato chips (crisps) on a sandwich. Chips and vinegar…. love that combination! As for the rest…. can’t really say if I have ever really had any of those….

  • jayson

    I’m an American and I love chips and vinegar!

  • John W. Allen

    I love Earl Grey, and I am an avid fan of eating my french fries covered in malt vinegar.

  • Robert Ritchie

    This alcoholic drink has certainly got a kick to it. It’s one part beer, one part cider and an optional splash of blackcurrant cordial. Because it’s cheap to make and quick to intoxicate, Snakebite is particularly popular amongst students, and it’s actually rather refreshing on a hot summer’s day. If you like beer and you like cider, then you can’t really go wrong (unless you drink 18 pints).”

    A Snakebite is larger and cider, if you add blackcurrant it’s called a diesel.

    • http://tonisummershargis.com/ Toni Hargis

      Back in the day, they banned it in a lot of the pubs I went to because it was so potent. I was at uni in the southwest of England and if you made a snakebite with Scrumpi it would poleax (sp?) you fairly quickly LOL

  • Susie

    We American’s have many different tastes, indeed! It just depends on what part of the country you hail from. I love my vinegar on fries (may have something to do with growing up near the ocean eating lots of seafood) and sweet tea (southern born) I prefer twining teas over Earl Gray ( just can’t a quire the taste) and I love me a mayo and banana sandwich!

  • Angela Snapp

    I like most of this stuff

  • Willowind M

    Chips(french fries) and vinegar is very popular in new England. Especially at carnivals

  • JustSayin’

    I only partially agree with the author’s list.

    Here’s my top 10:
    1. Marmite
    2. Baked Beans on toast (try it, you’ll love it)
    3. Black Pudding
    4. Spaghetti on toast (canned spaghetti)
    5. Hot Bovril Drink (kind of like beef tea)
    6. Haggis
    7. Steak and Kidney Pie
    8. Finney/Finnan Haddock (smoked haddock poached in milk)
    9. “Potted” meat (meat paste for sandwiches)
    10. Mushy Peas (smushed up marrow fat peas)

    Do you agree? What other odd tasting British foods belong on the list?

    • feijigirl

      I’d say you aren’t living in New England. Beans on toast is eaten by every generation of my family, along with potted meat (Deviled Ham, anyone?) and haddock poached in milk, and a dish that we had no name for but later in life I discovered that Brits call “bubble and squeak”. My mother made this with the leftovers from Sunday dinners my whole life. Guess it’s the ethnic history of the area, coupled with our family’s Irish/Scottish/English roots!

      • CuriousTraveler66

        Must be a New England thing, ’cause none of that list would go over in the Midwest, except for Underwood deviled ham and chicken spread (both of which make really good stuffing for fresh jalapenos topped w/ cheese and broiled, BTW). But no: NOBODY should eat canned spaghetti at any time, on ANYthing — the Italians will revolt! Pasta is meant to be eaten right after it’s been cooked. Period. End of story.

  • mtin

    I eat Crisp sandwiches, I have always eaten them. Add some chips to your ham sandwhich, or just have them on bread and you are good to go. It’s not just a British thing. I eat

  • Minyassa

    These things make me wonder if some tastes aren’t genetic. I like almost all of these things (haven’t tried kedgeree, I bet *I* could make it good, haven’t tried some of the brand name stuff) and my ancestry is entirely British on both sides. I adore Turkish Delight, will have to order some Fry’s and try it.

  • CatWhisperer

    Seriously, Earl Grey tea is the best. Also, I am now craving vinegar chips.

  • Savanna Rachel

    The commentary on Irn-bru reminds me of this obnoxiously sweet pop called Green River. I first tried it in my early twenties, and it is revolting. I know a ton of people who grew up drinking it, and apparently its a pretty big thing. Also, At Cedar Point in Ohio, they sell vinegar fries, which are pretty popular. I love them.

  • KingAdrock

    If Brits really have no problem with *anything* in a sandwich, why do they react so negatively to PB&J, or to tuna fish sandwiches?

  • raspberryjellybean

    I have been meaning to try Marmite at some point. I just havent talked myself into buying that little bottle of it at the store. I already eat my fries ‘chips’ with malt vinegar. Its the yummy. An uncle of mine used to say… “Life is an adventure. Try it all, you never know.”

    • http://tonisummershargis.com/ Toni Hargis

      If and when you do try Marmite, scrape it don’t spread it. The mistake I’ve seen newbies make it to spread it like PB or mayo; you need the smallest amount you can manage because it has a very intense taste. Personally, I love it, but would never eat it like PB.

  • Sheri Willis

    As an American with English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish genes from my maternal side, I find it funny that I prefer my tea cold but unsweetened.

  • Deirdre Hines

    I have to have vinegar on my fish, a little too on my fries. I love curry sauce on my frites.
    I’m a born and bred American.

  • Ranelagh

    Of course kedgeree is a “big mistake” at lunchtime. It is a wonderful breakfast food! Only found these days in rather good hotels, sadly.

  • hotgeek88

    Sweet tea is yucky! I like my Lady Grey in the mornings. 😉

  • http://tonisummershargis.com/ Toni Hargis

    It’s not so much tastes that befuddle my American husband, it’s the amount of stuff we put on toast. Eggs (scrambled, fried, poached), beans, spaghetti hoops, sardines, – you name it.

  • simplyjaye

    I’d agree with most of the list but Earl Grey is probably more popular in the US than the UK where most Brits drink black tea usually from one of the brands like PGA Tips, Typhoo, or Yorkshire.

    • JustSayin’


  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/9360674@N04/sets/72157600510023664/ BrassScorpion

    Americans don’t like vinegar on their fries? Are you kidding? All the best French fry places in the USA offer vinegar with their product and have for many years. Examples: Five Guys, Thrasher’s Fries, Boardwalk Fries, etc.

    • Mimi

      And every single fish&chips place.

  • Cypressclimber

    Again, I like learning more about our British cousins, so thanks for the article. And the bickering comments are a hoot!

    I’d actually try Marmite, because I like a lot of flavors others don’t. I will look for it!

    But a question: what is “salad cream”? Is that a name for Miracle Whip or mayonnaise? Or a creamy sort of salad dressing?

  • Punkwhovian

    Just to jump in on a friendly agree-disagree note here. I’m American, but an Anglophile since I was a kid. As such I’ve gone out of my way to try certain British foods, though I admit I’ve still warily avoided others. Ones I love:

    Irn-Bru. You can’t read a Rebus novel without wanting to try it. To me it tastes like bubble gum. I don’t know how to explain that, but that’s what I get. And the Scots are right, somehow, it’s great for a hangover! I always have a bottle or two in the fridge (haven’t found it in cans in the US).
    Prawn Cocktail crisps: I ordered (Walkers, of course) Prawn Cocktail and Pickled Onion crisps from the British International grocery website and I think they’re both delicious, and now I’m annoyed they’re not readily available. I brought some to work and my co-workers, though initially sceptical, all loved them as well.
    Malt vinegar on chips: I’ve always loved this, I just like salty, vinegary things.
    The Snakebite – oh, that is just bliss. Never tried it with blackcurrant though. I was introduced to it at an English pub and it is delicious, though I do run into bartenders who still don’t know what it is.
    Clotted Cream: I was scared of this; ‘clotted’ to me sounds like what happens if you leave milk in the sun. It is NOT a yummy sounding name in the US. I have tried clotted cream fudge, though, from Scotland, and while I still don’t know exactly what clotted cream is, it’s really good.

    Now, there are things I’ve not yet been brave enough to try – Marmite, for one, although your description is the first I’ve ever heard that makes it sound appetizing to me. Also, Heinz’ Salad Cream – I think it’s mostly the name; we just don’t put ‘cream’ on salad, it sounds…wrong. And the fact that based on the bottle, it seems to have no discernable flavour. Is it beige flavored? I can’t tell.

    Finally, things I’ll admit I just don’t quite get. First – beans on toast. I don’t know if baked beans in the Heinz blue can are different from American baked beans, but that just sounds…boring. I don’t know, just sort of dry. Second – different flavours of hot tea. I live in Florida, so hot tea isn’t usually something you crave here anyway, but for me all those different types of tea are just too much work. It’s like wine – I can’t pick out ‘subtle notes’ of this and ‘aromatics’ of that. Just give me a beer! Third – bitter shandy. It’s OK…kind of tastes like beery lemonade, or lemonade-y beer? It isn’t bad, I just don’t know that I’d want to drink it very often. Lastly – barley water. Haven’t tried it, it just doesn’t sound very refreshing!

    If folks reading this live in the south – Publix Supermarkets have a good selection of British foods. Not great, but a decent start. They have Marmite, Irn-Bru, PG Tips, HP brown sauce, Rowntree’s Wine Gums, Malteasers (those are so addictive… the chocolate is SO much better than Whoppers), Heinz Salad Cream, Heinz Baked Beans, Mushy Peas (why are they called mushy, anyway? Doesn’t that make them pea soup?), Jammie Dodgers, chocolate Hob Nobs (I wish they wouldn’t call cookies/biscuits ‘digestives,’ as I’ve never been able to figure that out). A small jar of Marmite is about six bucks, though, fair warning.

    Finally, thanks for the article. I think people want to take things too seriously; as an Anglophile reading it in my head I was reacting (I have too eaten that! I love that! Why would you think I haven’t heard of that??) but I realize you’re just allowing for a really useful dialogue so we can learn more from each other. Kind of the whole point is we’re all coming from opposite perspectives and sides of the pond! Thanks to everybody for making this a good place to learn things. = ) And apologies for the ridiculous length of this post, but food and Britain are two of my favourite things! Cheers!

  • Mimi

    1) Americans have long put potato chips (crisps) on sandwhiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.

    2) Fries (chips) and vinegar are called “boardwalk fries” in America.

    3) Earl Grey tea is ubiquitous.

  • Mimi

    Oh and Americans will make a sandwich from just about anything.

    • Tammy Harper

      True. My friend taught me a technique for when you are low on food & it actually tastes good. It is onion & mayonnaise sandwiches. Delicious! Another crafty idea I saw in a movie, was using saltine crackers, and putting ketchup with pepper on top of them, as an alternative to pizza. I know it isn’t even close, but if times are tough, it probably would do nicely.

      • Mimi

        Nothing like a lettuce and tomato sandwich with onions and mayo on white bread…yummy. I think that’s what I ate for lunch 90% of the 10th grade. I would occasionally add sliced American cheese, but only for “special” occasions. LOL

      • Mimi

        Oh and take left over mashed potatoes, smoosh them into a “patty” and fry them in a little butter until each side is”crispy.” Any kind of bread but I prefer sourdough or light rye and mayo.

        Let’s talk Thanksgiving dinner sandwiches… Mine look pretty much like a ‘Dagwood’ sandwich when they are finished. Way too big to get into my mouth. Very messy. Way yummy.

  • QuasiEvilBunny

    I’m American. I LOVE Walker’s prawn cocktail flavoured crisps, find Irn Bru awesome, douse my chips/steak fries with malt vinegar, drink loads of Earl Grey, and make sandwiches pretty much as described.

  • Jwb52z

    I think anyone who drinks 18 pints of anything alcoholic might die of alcohol poisoning or go into liver failure. As for Early Grey Tea, it was popularized in the US for Star Trek fans because it’s what Captain Picard seemed to love to drink every 5 minutes.

  • RegalGriffin

    This is really silly, becos i like all of these things……..

  • Red

    This article would have been 100% more credible if it had been written by an American.

  • EH

    As to the vinegar with fries/chips and Americans not liking it as a topping, I disagree. I grew up in Maryland and love my fries with vinegar and Old Bay (a seafood spice mix) as do many people from the Mid Atlantic region.

  • Kelly and Lora

    My mums from oxford england i love marmite for years my wife is mexan american she loves it too marmite on toast with our mexcan breakfast kelly and lora, san marcos texas

  • alkh3myst

    I’m American, and like Earl Grey tea AND vinegar on fries/chips. Marmite however, is the creation of Satan.

  • Dave

    As an ex-pat Brit now resident in the USA with my Californian born wife, I can agree that Americans have n o idea of Marmite. The very smell put my wife off. Marmite on hot buttered toast or as a sandwich with a good layer of sliced cucumber – heaven on earth! One thing my wife has come to like is that she will not eat her chips (french fries) without lashings of vinegar all over them. The cost of a jar of marmite here in the USA is outrageous so when I visit the UK, I usually haul a jar or two back here.

  • colinmeister

    The big problem with tea in America is that it is made by putting a tea bag in a cup of warm water.

    Every Brit knows that to make tea, the water has to be boiling. For a fun take on this see T.U.S.A. by Masters of Reality featuring Ginger Baker – it’s on YouTube.

  • Daniel Justin Antone

    I’m a 29 year old American male. Some of the above items I’ve always liked: vinegar (malt vinegar) on friend aka chips, and I’ve never liked sweet tea. I appreciate Earl Grey, curry sauce on fries sounds good, and I think I’ve had a snakebite before. I like to try everything, and am always up for something new.

  • Danielle Mills

    I looooove dousing my fries in vinegar and my Ketchup!

  • Anne-Mary

    Yes, no.1 is an acquired taste, isn’t it? Of course, I acquired it on my second trip back to the UK at about four years of age, after having been already successful weaned directly onto Vegemite by my good little Australian mother. As far as I ever knew, Marmite was Vegemite for wimps… and I was never quite sure what Bovril was (except that it said both “beef” and “suitable for vegetarians”). Who knew Americans despised Marmite just as much as the rest of the world despises Vegemite?
    At a youth camp in Australia, they once served us salt-and-vinegar chips/crisps and lettuce wraps. It was a strange taste, to say the least, but then, I’ve never liked any flavour of crisp but salted. I’m a weird one.
    Turkish delight is almost the most delicious sort of chocolate ever! It’s even good if you find/make plain Turkish delight without the chocolate. After all, the White Witch managed to bribe Edmund with it.
    Irn-Bru is equally delicious, and although it tastes nothing like citrus as it claims, it’s the best thing for keeping you awake on those 20-plus-hour ‘plane flights between Australia and either of the United-whatevers (by which I mean the US and the UK) – better than coffee.
    I don’t like chips/fries with vinegar or with mayonaise, but I’d eat them by the bucketload with gravy.
    Anyone who objects to haggis should take a closer look at the sausages they gobble down so happily, in my opinion, but I’ll never understand the appeal of black pudding (except, as the Goodies so eloquently put it, as a means of whacking someone over the head – Ecky-Thump!) since all black pudding is, as Danny Bhoy says, is a giant scab.

  • Alyssa Bean

    Come to New England! We love salt and vinegar chips and putting malt vinegar (or even white vinegar) on our fries! Where I grew up, we were also quite fond of putting gravy on our fries. That one I never caught onto, but vinegar on hand-cut fries is the best.

  • Einelorelei

    I like Marmite. It reminds me of Vegemite. I can’t have the prawn cocktail crisps because I’m allergic.

  • CuriousTraveler66

    Yes, you’re wrong: Earl Grey tea is popular enough among tea drinkers here. In fact, The Republic of Tea sells a variety called Earl Greyer that is more heavily scented with bergamot, and it sells well enough. I myself drink Earl Grey green tea almost daily (courtesy of Bigelow teas). Re: Snakebite, most students are notoriously dumb enough to drink anything with alcohol in it, so that’s not saying much. As for vinegar and chips or chips and curry sauce, whatever: the Belgians (who, after all, invented ‘French’ fries) eat them with fresh mayonnaise. Ick! But let them have it, I say; they could do worse. As for prawn crisps …. ehhhh, maybe you should look into Zapp’s from Louisiana instead; they have some interesting flavors there.

    That said, I find absolutely no reason for the first six items on your list to exist on anyone’s menu, let alone be popular, except for the fact that many people like whatever they’ve grown up with, no matter how obnoxious it might be (how else to explain ‘butter’ tea in Mongolia, where the butter is likely rancid?). Particularly Marmite. Seriously. Who thought *that* was a good idea? Someone anemic during war time, or a brewer who had to find something to do with the sludge at the bottom of the barrel?? Same goes for Bovril, haggis (though that’s technically Scottish), and black pudding. British bangers have too much non-meat filler in them. And canned spaghetti on ANYthing is an abomination — ask any Italian. But hey, every nation has some questionable dishes, most probably created in times of poverty. The Mexicans make tripe stew (menudo), which absolutely doesn’t work for me but which they adore, and in other areas of the third world they eat insects of varying kinds. Or catmeat, or dog. It may be protein, but no thanks. I won’t be chewing on Fido or Fluffy any time soon.

    All one can do is quote the Romans and say there’s no accounting for taste (De gustibus est non disputandum), and leave it at that. Bon appetit!

    ps — re: cucumber sandwiches, that’s not really so odd. Danes will make an open-faced sandwich out of a lot of things (though not crisps/chips) and garnish them with thin cuke slices and dill. My Mama, who emigrated from Lithuania, liked nothing better than to cut a thick slice of Latvian rye or dark wholegrain Lithuanian pumpernickel, spread it with sweet butter, and top it with either sliced fresh radishes or thinly sliced sweet (Vidalia) onions. Me? I preferred thick slices of homegrown summer tomatoes on toasted Latvian rye with chive cream cheese instead. And peanut butter and banana sandwiches are well known here, as are banana and jelly sammies. But you won’t find us eating cheese and chutney sandwiches. Good cheese deserves better than than to be overwhelmed by chutney.

    • Guest

      You sure do like telling people they’re wrong, don’t you.
      (Just as a heads up, even if you delete a comment, Discus still sends an email to the person to which you’re replying, so they can still read it.)
      By the way, black pudding is delicious, and snakebites aren’t too bad, either. And I’m not even a college student!

  • Heidi Kortman

    Earl Grey is easy to enjoy. Lapsang Souchong, on the other hand, is a tea for the brave.