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Twinkies make a comeback. (Hostess)
Twinkies make a comeback. (Hostess)
Twinkies make a comeback. (Hostess)

Unfortunately for expats, you can’t very easily get your hands on a packet of pickled onion flavor Monster Munch in the United States. But there is no shortage of other weird and wonderful American snacks from which Brits can choose.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Behold an American icon! The peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich is such a staple of every American child’s diet that a 2002 survey commissioned by The J.M. Smucker Company determined that the average kid living in the U.S. will have eaten more than 1,500 PB&Js by the time they graduate from high school. This is not only remarkable because of the sheer volume of sandwiches (it works out at one every three days for twelve years), but also because peanut allergies are currently rampant amongst American kids and on the rise (Food Allergy Research & Education reports that the number of children living in the U.S. with peanut allergies tripled between 1997 and 2008) so many kids are having more than their fair share.

The 2009 movie Zombieland presented audiences with a post-zombie apocalypse world in which Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee character is hell-bent on finding a Twinkie because, as he put it, “Someday very soon, life’s little Twinkie gauge is gonna go empty.” Fast-forward to May 4, 2012 and, in what was quite possibly the most perfect example of life imitating art ever, the company that makes Twinkies, Hostess, files for bankruptcy. America mourned the impending Twinkie extinction while crazed sugar junkies began hoarding boxes of them.

The masses needn’t had worried, though, because Hostess were eventually bought out of bankruptcy, and, on July 15, 2013, Twinkies reappeared on U.S. shelves, and the Earth returned to its normal axis. So what’s all the fuss about, anyway? Well, the Twinkie is a distant relative of the Swiss roll, consisting of a cylinder of golden fluffy sponge cake with a cream filling. There is no denying that they taste good, but if chemically processed ingredients concern you then you’re going to want to leave Twinkies out of your diet because they are the absolute antithesis of organic.

Tater tots
While tater tots are technically a side dish, not a snack, they are worth acknowledging here because not only can they be enjoyed as a snack if so desired (we’re looking at you, Napoleon Dynamite), but they are also America’s greatest achievement since the Declaration of Independence. The tater tot is a cylinder-shaped sliver of potato that’s deep-fried and seasoned, giving you more tater for your tot, and they go great in place of fries with any meal. Why they’ve never made it across the Atlantic is both a mystery and a culinary crime.

Tell an American that you’ve never had a s’more and they will most likely utter something paradoxical such as: “You haven’t lived and you’re going to die when you try one.” The s’more is made from three ingredients: chocolate, roasted marshmallow and graham cracker. It’s traditionally enjoyed around a campfire where one can toast one’s marshmallow over the flames while singing “Kumbaya” before biting into the delicious gooeyness.

Buffalo wings
For the benefit of the uniformed Brit, it’s probably best if we first clarify that Buffalo wings are made from chicken, not buffalo (because buffaloes don’t have wings of course!). The snack takes its name from the city located in western New York State from which they originated (“Buffalo” is also the name given to the rich, tangy sauce in which the wings are coated). The snack is traditionally served with celery and/or carrot sticks and accompanied by a blue cheese dipping condiment that takes some of the sting out of the Buffalo sauce. It’s a great dish for sharing and always goes down a treat with a beer at a bar while watching a game.

Slim Jims
The Slim Jim is the U.S. equivalent of the popular U.K. snack Peperami. And, much like the Peperami, Slim Jims come in an original flavor plus a few other flavors that vary in degree of spiciness. The coolest way to eat a Slim Jim is to buy one at a gas station and chew on it as you nonchalantly fill up, tipping your hat at passersby while saying things like “darn tootin’.” Or so I’m told.

Corn dogs
Sometime during the final years of the 1930s (or the first years of the 1940s – there is much disagreement amongst gastronomic historians), German Texan sausage makers came up with the novel concept of entombing their wieners within a thick layer of cornmeal batter. The real genius of their idea, however, and the reason why it spread like a delicious plague, was that the corn dog was served on a stick, which meant people could eat it on the move and it thus became a very popular snack at state fairs.

What are some of your favorite American snacks?

See More:
Foods That Brits and Americans Pronounce Differently
6 American Food Habits Brits Will Never Understand
10 Desserts That Brits Miss When They Leave the U.K.

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Filed Under: american snacks, Food
By Jon Langford