Home Strange and Unusual Strange Things The Surprising Origins of Popular Foods

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

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

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

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.


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.


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

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.


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 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

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

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

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.


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

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 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.


The Aztecs were the first people to cultivate tomatoes around 700 A.D., even though tomatoes are native to America. According to Business Insider, the introduction of tomatoes to the Old World took place during the Columbian Exchange, which took place in the 15th and 16th centuries. Tomatoes had a bad reputation and were only valued for their ornamental qualities at the time.


In the early days of the United States, the lobster was considered to be the “cockroach of the sea,” and it was eventually fed to prisoners. In 2016, however, lobster is often associated with fine dining and extravagance. Nevertheless, by the middle of the 18th century, manufacturers started putting lobster in cans and shipping the food to the middle of the United States using the railroad system. By the time World War II rolled around, residents of the Midwest were already making the trek to the East Coast in search of freshly prepared lobster. After that, prices skyrocketed, and pretty soon, people started thinking of the dish as an expensive delicacy.


Even though the majority of people who enjoy nachos are aware that the dish originated in Mexico, only a small percentage of them are aware that Ignacio “Nacho” Ania was the inspiration for the name of the dish. Nacho, who was working as a maître d’ at the Old Victory Club on the border of the United States and Mexico in 1943, came up with the idea for the dish after a party of Texan army wives dined there.

Apple Pie

The idiom “as American as apple pie” takes on a completely different significance when one considers the fact that the tasty-looking dessert did not originate in the United States. It was first developed in England, but some argue that the United States was the country that brought it to its full potential.


Chimichangas are essentially deep-fried burritos, and given that their name comes from Mexico, it is reasonable to assume that the dish originated in that country. Chimichangas are a product of the United States of America and are said to have originated when a burrito was accidentally dropped into a deep fryer.

Did You Know?

  1. In the United States, you can refer to french fries either as french fries or just fries. However, if you are in another country, you might have to use a different name. They are referred to as chips in the United Kingdom, whereas in France they are known as frites.
  2. What people in the United States refer to as “fries” are known as “chips” in Britain. But that is only one aspect of the whole story. The term “chips” is used instead of “fries” because French fries are typically prepared with a much coarser cut of potatoes in the United Kingdom. This is because they were used as a replacement for fried fish during times when rivers became frozen and it was nearly impossible to catch fish.
  3. The history of how french fries came to be is quite complicated. They are said to have been created by the French, Spanish, and Belgians, but no one is sure whose claim is true. Some think they were created in France, they were first offered for sale in 1789 in Paris. According to those who think fries are Belgian, the French frequently appropriated Belgian cuisine and culture because of their proximity, which is why they are called “French.”
  4. It may be common knowledge that Italy is the pasta capital of the world, but you may not be aware that the earliest reports of pasta came from China rather than Italy. There is evidence that people have been eating pasta as far back as 5,000 BC, which indicates that the history of pasta goes back a very long way.
  5. In the beginning, sushi became a common Tokyo street food. However, everything changed after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, which devastated the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area and left over 140,000 people dead. Many Japanese people were displaced and lost their homes. Numerous sushi chefs were present among them. Due to the earthquake, property values in Japan also decreased, making it more feasible to shop at physical stores. As a result, many sushi chefs began opening restaurants, which helped sushi become well-known throughout Japan.
  6. Sushi is not only delicious but also healthy for your body and mind. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can hydrate and repair brain cells, are abundant in sushi. It also contains a lot of vitamin B12, which helps to prevent osteoporosis while also enhancing mood and reducing depressive symptoms. Sushi also contains minerals that are crucial for immunity and energy production, such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron.
  7. Lobsters do not have a red color. When cooked, they take on a bright red color, but in their natural state, they can be green, yellow, or even bright blue.
  8. Chicken tikka masala is a type of dish that is prepared by simmering roasted chicken that has been marinated in a curry sauce that is loaded with various spices. Boneless pieces of chicken are used in the preparation of chicken tikka, which is then roasted in an oven after being marinated in spices and yogurt. The dish known as chicken tikka masala is considered to be a “true British national dish” due to its immense popularity in the United Kingdom.
  9. The answer to the question of where French toast originated is not France, as the name “French toast” might lead you to believe, but rather in ancient Rome.
  10. Ketchup was traditionally made with anchovies, walnuts, mushrooms, and kidney beans as its primary components. Consuming just four tablespoons of ketchup will provide you with the same amount of nutrients as consuming an entire tomato that is medium in size.

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.

Exit mobile version