It's hard to say what makes a food seem distinctly American -- perhaps its taste brings up a childhood memory, or its appearance a connection to an American pastime -- but there are definitely some things we consume that are as American as, well, apple pie. So as the fireworks go off tomorrow, here are the ten patriotic food items (in no particular order) that we'll grab along with the sparklers.
See also: - The ten best places to go for ice cream this summer - Five unlikely patriotic places to celebrate the Fourth of July in Colorado - Everything I know about patriotism I learned from Captain America
10) Apple Pie There's a reason the term "as American as apple pie" was coined: pie, especially the apple variety, has induced nostalgia throughout American history. Ask anyone what memories they have of the flaky, gooey patriotic pastry and you'll get a flood of sentimental accounts of orchard trips and pies cooling on hometown window sills. Whether served on its own, à la mode or with a slice of cheddar cheese, there will be apple pie at an Independence Day picnic near you -- and then on the Thanksgiving table, in case you don't get your fill this summer.
9) Hot Dogs Although hot dogs have questionable patriotic beginnings -- the word "frankfurter" was inspired by Frankfurt, Germany -- the concept as we know it planted its American roots when a German immigrant started selling hot dogs on Coney Island in the 1870s. A few decades later, hot dogs and baseball started playing on the same team. Today, we eat hot dogs in endless incarnations and combinations: from the traditional all-beef dressed with ketchup, mustard, and relish, to elk and venison varieties smothered in a mess of delightful yet unexpected toppings.
8) Lemonade Lemonade, the perfectly tart, not-too-sweet (if made right!) summer refresher, is iconic of youthful days spent manning a lemonade stand in the front yard or sipping the drink at a carnival. Whether made from real lemons or a powdery mix, the taste of lemonade will always let us know that summer is here.
7) Popcorn All year long, you can find wide-eyed moviegoers in the soft glow of the screen, chowing down on bountiful buckets of salted, buttery popcorn; around the holidays, popcorn is often strung together and draped on trees or rolled into sugary popcorn balls. And on the Fourth, it's a go-to snack at baseball games and picnics across the country. With much of the world's popping corn grown in the American Midwest, we're conditioned to eat it -- and crave it -- as a snack year-round. So eat up, Americans, and enjoy a byproduct of one of the original patriotic foods: corn.
6) M&M's In the 1930s, the Mars candy company invented a small chocolate candy that wouldn't melt in your hand -- or any of the extreme and ever-changing living conditions of soldiers. in fact, this candy was originally sold exclusively to the military. Eventually, though, its popularity with the troops led to the release of M&M's to the public -- and today, with varieties like peanut-butter-filled, pretzel and mint chocolate added to the lineup, we continue to eat them out of the bag, add them to trail mix, and keep the patriotic tradition alive.
5) Corn Dogs If you think corn dogs belong in the hot-dog category, you're not giving them enough credit. Corn dogs have their very own murky history, with many people laying claim to their invention and distribution. Although we may never know the true origin of one of America's favorite street foods, corn dogs seem to have made their debut in the 1940s, showing up at state fairs and on street carts alike. While they're delicious on their own, many fans choose to treat the corn dog as a regular hot dog, striped with ketchup (yet another American tradition) and mustard.
4) Hamburgers Although the hamburger has been popularized by the global reach of McDonald's, its beginnings were a humble lunch wagon in Connecticut in the early 1900s. Maybe; there are rival claims to fame. Americans don't care how the hamburger got its start, though; they just care that it sticks around -- and care enough to eat an average 13 billion a year.
3) Cracker Jack Baseball and the song that goes with it, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," immortalized the Cracker Jack legacy. The crunchy, molasses-coated popcorn and peanut concoction, plus that exciting prize, will forever represent the spirit of the baseball season. If you're really feeling patriotic, you can find the sticky stuff in most supermarkets, too.
2) Rice Krispies Treats Rice Krispies treats were invented by the Kellogg Company as a fundraiser for a youth organization it worked with -- and since that great day, the chewy treats have graced bake sale tables, soccer game sidelines, even the American breakfast table. The original recipe can still be found on the Kellogg's website, as well as the tried-and-true recipe books catering to those who need something sweet -- and American.
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SHOW ME HOW
1) S'mores S'mores are the quintessential, nostalgic camping food: The marshmallows are broiled to golden-brown perfection over a fire that was made with American hard work and ingenuity, and the American-made chocolate (if you're sticking with Hershey's) is sandwiched between two graham cracker. They make us think of summer fun, camping and the great outdoors -- the great American outdoors. Please, sir, can I have s'more?