We have them all, guilty pleasures that we just cannot stay away from. Every culture has its own, so does America. Here are five very American pleasures, that you’re either guilty of yourself or you cringe just by the thought of it.
These donuts can be really addictive, I’m living proof of that. Thank God they closed the Krispy Kreme store close to our first apartment, because I fell in love with the hot glazed donuts. Their signature treat. Whenever the “HOT” sign lit up in their window, people knew they could get donuts fresh from the fryer – still warm. Super sweet and delicious, but not for long. Soon after the donut cools off, the taste vanishes as well for the most part. Krispy Kreme might even be the reason why my wife had gastritis in our first year in the States. This and maybe the endless soda refills that we took full advantage of. Just too much sugar for her European stomach.
Donuts are THE treat in corporate America. Co-workers and business partners love to bring in donuts to treat their colleagues and clients, because everybody loves them and they come by the dozen. Very cheap I have to add. If you go into a store and order 2 or 3 donuts, they will up sell you to a dozen for only a few cents more, so your own financial genius will tell you that this is a no-brainer and you should go for the dozen. Dunkin Donuts is the other popular donut chain in America. It’s actually the largest donut chain and major competitor of Starbucks, since they also sell coffee. Their donuts come in all kinds of flavors with different toppings. Everything from traditional glazed to donuts with cream inside and sugar-coating with sprinkles on the outside. It never gets boring.
Cheese it up
As a German I love cheese and I grew up not far from several cheesemakers, who did not use pasteurized milk and some of their cheeses stank like cow dung, but the taste was unmatched.
Americans love cheese even more than I do, and it has to be on almost everything. But whatever you buy, it usually does not smell at all. I’m not even sure if these strangely intense orange and yellow sticks that you get in the grocery store are even real cheese, let alone sprayed cheese. Order a salad and you can be sure it comes with cheese sprinkled on top or on the side. And pizza – it’s common to order double or even triple cheese. There doesn’t have to be anything else on the pizza dough, but lots of gooey cheese and people seem to be happy. Bread, butter and cheese – that’s all you need for a grilled cheese sandwich, which is an all-time favorite in America. I tried to find cheese in stores here like I remember them from Germany and I found some international cheeses in the grocery store, but they all come with a huge price tag. Sometimes just the idea of cheese is enough, as long as it’s cheap, bright yellow and comes with your favorite dish.
There is a reason Americans are known for being overweight. It’s just way too easy to super-size all those yummy, yet highly unhealthy treats like pizza with lots of cheese, popcorn with extra butter or ice shakes with a huge crown of whipped cream– all at no extra charge. If you’ve ever been on a cruise in America you know that you can easily get two desserts, even three if you can get it all down, without any questions asked. Sodas in fast food chains can usually be refilled for free, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of it and top off your drink before you leave. Same with ketchup for your fries. The ketchup dispenser is accessible for customers just like the soda machine, so you just get as much ketchup for as many times as you want. In grocery stores you’re also getting up-sold all the time, especially for the unhealthy stuff. Buy 1 Get 1 FREE, Buy 1, Get 1 Half OFF, etc. It’s hard to just stick to the plan and buy only the items and amounts on your shopping list. Temptation is everywhere, especially in the candy aisle.
Popcorn with Butter
First time I got introduced to popcorn with melted butter was in a theatre. I was excited to see the upcoming movie and had my snacks with me that I sneaked in. All of a sudden, a very strange smell hit my sensitive nostrils and I felt like throwing up. It smelled like bad milk. Trying to track down where this awful smell came from I noticed a couple delving into a huge bucket of popcorn with a glazy substance on top of it – Liquid Butter. *gag*
I quickly learned that besides nachos with very orange (you guessed it) melted cheese, popcorn with melted butter is one of America’s favorite movie snack. Pair that with a 64oz soda and you’re ready to reduce your lifespan by another year.
I’ve never tried buttery popcorn. The thought along makes my belly cringe. It also took me a while to get used to salted popcorn, which is common standard in the U.S., because back in Europe all we got was sweetened popcorn, which is called kettle corn here. However, today I even prefer salted over sugared popcorn. I’m Americanized in that respect now, but I’m still very jumpy whenever the guy at the popcorn counter heads toward the melted butter pump with my order, always ready to scream “NOOOO butter please”.
Have you ever seen this long line of cars besieging your local Starbucks in the morning? The line can easily go once around the whole building and sometimes even further. It can look like they’re giving away free coffee. Funny, that when you just park your car and walk in to order, you’re in & out a lot faster than waiting it out in your car until it’s your turn at the drive-thru counter. Anyways, a lot of Americans and people in general can’t seem to start their day without a coffee. My parents used to drink coffee every morning before going to work, but not once did they leave the house earlier just to stop by a local bakery or coffee shop to buy their coffee. In the United States the morning coffee run have become a common habit and people don’t seem to care about paying 5 bucks for a cup of coffee, sometimes more than once a day. Coffee houses like Starbucks also don’t make it easy for people to just say no. They offer a ton of variety in many different flavors, from hot lattes to icy cold frappuccinos with over 60 grams of sugar, double cream and chocolate drizzle on top of it. That’s easily over 500 calories just with a cup of coffee. Are you still wondering my America is overweight and in debt?
How Americanized are you and what are your guilty pleasures? I would love to hear your comments.
Photo credit: © jillchen – Fotolia.com