The Surprising Origins of Popular Foods

We all have our favorite foods that seem to be embedded in our daily diets. These are the foods we crave for every once in a while. Though we may like these certain foods so much, some of us do not have any idea where they really came from.

Whenever you eat in a Chinese restaurant, Mexican joint, or Indian eatery, do you think the dishes they serve truly are authentic to their countries of origin? If you think they do, then you might be surprised to find out where some of your favorite foods originated. Here are the surprising origins of some popular foods.


Corned Beef and Cabbage

Origin of Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned Beef and Cabbage is a popular dish served in pubs and restaurants in Ireland, but the dish doesn’t exactly hail from the country. Cows were used by the Irish for dairy rather than meat and they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day through eating pork or lamb. In the mid-19 century, many emigrants who left Ireland for the US settled in New York City to escape the Great Famine.

These emigrants combined traditional vegetables from Ireland such as potatoes and cabbage with kosher brisket, a meat dish popular amongst Jewish immigrants in New York. They created a novel twist on the salt-cured meat and corned beef and cabbage caught on. In fact, in 1861, President Lincoln chose corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes for his first inauguration’s luncheon menu.

Canadian Bacon

Origin of Canadian Bacon
If Canadian Bacon is one of your favorites, especially on pizza, you might think that it originated in Canada. But you’re wrong. Though its name has “Canadian” on it, the first Canadian bacon was eaten in the United Kingdom.

Fortune Cookies

Origin of Fortune Cookies
Most people think that fortune cookies are from China. Western society assumes fortune cookies came from China, while Chinese people, on the other hand, think the other way around. However, both of their assumptions are wrong. It’s because fortune cookies were brought to California in the late 18th century by the Japanese.


Origin of Cheesecake
Cheese cakes are popularly served in cafes especially around New York City. But that is not the place where it originated. Cheese cakes were first created by the Ancient Greeks.


Origin of Croissants
When it comes to pastries like croissants, we assume that they originated in France. Well, this pastry was adapted and named in France, however, it originally came from an Austrian crescent-shaped yeast roll. When it was brought to France, they modified it a bit and named it croissant which means crescent.

Chili Con Carne

Origin of Chili Con Carne
This dish is full of Mexican flavor, but it wasn’t a dish from Mexico. Chili Con Carne was invented in the United States of America.


Origin of Ketchup
Ketchup is a famous condiment especially for Americans who slather it on top of burgers and hotdogs. But did you know that ketchup originated in China in the 6th century? It was made using fermented fish guts and salt. When the British got their hands on the condiment’s recipe, they added other ingredients to it such as beer, oysters, strawberries, and peaches.

French Toast

French Toast Origins
French toast is created by soaking stale bread in a mixture of eggs and milk. Though it has “French” on its name, the recipe of French toast was found in the Apicius, which is a Latin collection of recipes in 4th-century Rome. It became popular in Medieval Europe. In the 15th century, the dish was called pain perdu in the English court which is French for “lost bread”.

French Fries

French Fries Origins
This is another popular food with a “French” on its name, but it also did not originate from France. French fries were first eaten in Belgium paired with mayonnaise.

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips is popularly known to be a classic British supper. But did you know that fish and chips originated in Belgium, France, Portugal, and Spain?

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala Origins
This dish, along with tandoori chicken and saag paner, became one and the same with Indian food. However, Chicken Tikka Masala was not created in India but in the United Kingdom. A Pakistani or Bangladeshi restaurateur-chef either in London or Scotland probably created the dish around 1960’s to 70’s.  You can find no better than as these Brisbane Indian restaurants.

Hot Chocolate

Origin of French Roast Coffee
Hot chocolate was created by the Mexicans. Though it’s quite hotter in Mexico compared to hot south of the border, it’s them who made this delicious drink that we all enjoy in the present time.


Pasta Origins
When we talk about pasta, most of us might think that it originated from Italy, because pasta dishes are known to be Italian. But the first ever pasta was surprisingly created in China.

Dippin’ Dots

Dippin Dots Origins
This is a very popular pellet-shaped ice cream at ballparks and birthday parties. But did you know that it was actually invented as cow food? Dippin’ Dots ice cream came from an experiment to make food for farm animals in the 1980’s. It was accidentally flash frozen at 350 degrees below zero, creating small, bite-sized pellets for the cows, but the microbiologist did not stop there because he also loved ice cream. He then used liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream at a low temperature, making it melt in our mouths.

Salmon Sushi

Salmon Sushi Origins

Salmon sushi is popularly known as a Japanese food. However, it was not consumed in Japan up until the 1990’s. Japanese sushi chefs were unable to use Pacific salmon in their dishes because it has parasites. Norway on the other hand, had an abundance of parasite-free Pacific salmon, therefore, they are the ones who exported Salmon Sushi to Japan.

It’s truly surprising to know that some of our favorite foods did not originate where we think they did. And it is interesting to know the stories behind the creation of these popular foods.