Classic International Foods That Were Actually Invented In America

It’s easy to forget that modern-day American cuisine has been shaped by the contributions of people from all over the world. For the last 300 years, immigrants from many different countries have headed to the United States for a fresh start, and with them they brought a wave of unique flavors and ingredients. So believe it or not, many dishes we think of today as being foreign or international actually originated in the United States, not overseas!

1. Spaghetti and meatballs isn’t an authentic Italian meal

Given its prominence on menus in Italian-themed restaurants, you’d be forgiven for thinking that spaghetti and meatballs got its start in Italy. But that’s not the case! In fact, Italian chefs usually serve the two separately, with meatballs as an appetizer and pasta as a main course. It’s believed that the combination we’re familiar with now emerged in the early 1900s via Italian-American settlers.

2. Germany isn't the home of German chocolate cake

Surely German chocolate cake is a product of Germany, right? Nope! Instead, the tasty dessert that boasts delicious coconut-pecan frosting gets its moniker from a guy named Samuel German. He made baking chocolate for a Massachusetts bakery in 1852, dubbed Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. Five years later, a woman in Texas shared a recipe that included some of those ingredients, naming it “German’s Chocolate Cake.” From there, the dish took off.

3. The name “French roast coffee” was plucked out of the air

There was a time in the United States when coffee fans preferred light roasts over the darker choices found in Europe. Still, that didn’t stop Alfred Peet (yes, of Peet's Coffee fame) from creating a beverage with ties to his home continent in California in the mid-1960s. Peet, who was Dutch-American, whipped up a coffee that was less acidic and boasted a slight “burnt” taste. And even though he had a host of European nations to choose from for a name, the entrepreneur landed on “French roast.” Why? We may never know.

4. Are chimichangas Mexican? Nope...

A delicious deep-fried burrito, the chimichanga has all the hallmarks of a dish made in Mexico: it's heavily spiced and often served with refried beans, for example. In reality, though, it actually emerged in Arizona, as per USA Today. The folks at Tucson’s El Charro Café believe they were responsible for its creation after a burrito inadvertently fell into scorching-hot fat back in 1922. Yet a restaurant owner in Phoenix, named Woody Johnson, said he made the first batch of chimichangas in the mid-1940s.