A Closer Look at the Most Popular Foods in America: Is It Time to Rethink Our Eating Habits?
It’s no secret that we Americans love to eat. It’s practically a national pastime! But what are some of our favorite foods? Let’s explore some of the most common North American staples at the dinner table and beyond!
Disclaimer: Ranking these foods is as tricky as trying to compare apples to oranges or maybe even pizza to tacos. Statistics, portion sizes, and amounts can vary greatly, making it nearly impossible to declare a definitive ranking. So, just like a good meal, take this list with a grain of salt.
Top 10 Most Consumed Foods In America:
You really can’t go wrong with any combination of cheese, meat, and bread, can you? And there’s no combo more popular in the US than a pizza with 350 slices eaten every second.
On average, Americans eat about 35-40 pizzas per year, which is about a slice a day. For some of us, 40 pizzas a year probably seems low, but overall, about 94% of Americans eat pizza regularly – making it one of the most popular (and prolific) foods in the country!
While the modern version of the pizza originated in Naples, Americans consume far more than our Italian counterparts. Popular pizza chains in the United States include Papa John’s, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, and many others.
What’s the only country that consumes more pizza than us? Norway!
If any food were going to come close to dethroning Pizza at the top of the list, it’s gotta be the hamburger. Who can resist a big juicy beef patty on a bun? After all, Americans consume the most hamburgers per year – around 50 billion burgers (yes, I said BILLION) – with an average person eating about 150 burgers a year. That’s a lot of beef and buns!
In 1921, the White Castle first opened in Wichita, Kansas. Selling their burgers for 5 cents apiece, they became the first burger chain in America.
Today, hamburgers and cheeseburgers make up about 71% of the commercial beef sold in the United States, and there are a plethora of choices. Some of the most well-known burger restaurants in the United States today are Five Guys, Shake Shack, In-N-Out Burger, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, Jack in the Box, Whatab}rger, and Culver’s, and they all seem to be doing quite well.
Read Also: How To Reheat White Castle Burgers (Keep Them Juicy And Tasty).
3. Fried Chicken
When it comes to comfort food, few things can beat really good fried chicken. Today, about half of Americans eat some form of fried chicken at least once a week! Overall, we consume about 8 billion chickens per year – which is about 24-65 whole chickens per person.
Fried chicken has a long history in America, likely originating in the South through a combination of Eastern African and Scottish influences. The dish has since become a staple in Southern cuisine and has spread throughout the country to become a beloved American comfort food.
Various cultures have adapted and modified to suit local tastes, resulting in different regional styles and flavors.
Today, fried chicken, chicken tenders, or chicken nuggets are popular food items in the US, often served at fast food chains, diners, and family restaurants, as well as at special occasions and events.
While tacos have been around for literally thousands of years, they didn’t come to America until the mid-1900s. While Americans were certainly behind the curve on this delicious dish, they certainly have made up for that in their consumption!
It is estimated that collectively Americans eat 4.5 billion tacos per year. According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, tacos are the second most-ordered food in American restaurants.
In the early 1900s, migrant Mexican workers came to the US for jobs in mines and railroads. Many introduced Americans to the tortilla. Ultimately, it was the Taco Bell restaurant chain (established in 1962) that brought tacos to the rest of the country.
5. French Fries
Deep-fried potatoes and salt. It’s such a simple combination but one we love so much! The average American eats about 30 pounds (14 kg) of French fries per year, which averages out to about 4.5 billion pounds of French fries consumed annually, which is about 130 portions of Macdonald’s medium fries.
French fries(or a very early version of them) likely came to America via Thomas Jefferson, who published the first recorded recipe for fried potatoes in the early 1800s. However, they gained popularity during WWI when American soldiers stationed in Belgium came across the dish, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, French fries can be found at most fast food chains, diners, and restaurants.
Read Also: Double Frying French Fries – Secret To Crispy Fries or a Waste of Time?
6. Hot Dogs
Take me out to the ballgame! But not without a hot dog with just the right combination of mustard and ketchup (with sauerkraut, too, if we’re being honest). Americans consume around 50 hot dogs per year. Overall, that’s 7 billion hot dogs eaten yearly in the States.
Frankfurt, Germany, claimed to be the originator of the hot dog and celebrated the hot dog’s 500th birthday in 1987 (though this claim has been challenged by over contenders).
Hot dogs are also one of the space-approved foods, as Apollo 11 astronauts enjoyed them on their iconic mission.
Today, hot dogs are a staple of American 4th of July festivities, where the country consumes (on average) about 150 million on that day alone.
Read Also: How To Cook Sauerkraut For Hot Dogs (The Most Delish Recipe).
Would you be surprised to know that one of the most famous American brands is the Oreo cookie, followed closely by chocolate chip cookies?
You can find Oreos in over 100 countries, but they remain a staple of American snack food.
According to the most recent statistics, Americans eat about 92 million Oreos daily. On average, 34 billion Oreos are sold in America each year (and about 60 billion worldwide).
Oreos were introduced by the National Biscuit Company – today part of Mondelēz International, the parent company of Nabisco and Cadbury – in 1912.
8. Grilled Cheese
What can we say? Americans love their comfort foods! According to a 2009 study, Americans eat approximately a whopping 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches yearly.
Originally, these weren’t sandwiches at all! In WWII, they were served as “toasted cheese,” as an open-faced dish often topped with tomato.
In 1949, Kraft introduced single-wrapped slices of processed cheese called “Kraft Singles,” which made cheese easy to add to household sandwiches. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that toasted cheese was served with another toasted slice of bread on top and earned its name.
9. Mac and Cheese
Yep! You know there’s bound to be more cheese when it comes to American cuisine! (We really love cheese, what can we say?)
Macaroni and cheese, also known as mac and cheese, is yet another favorite comfort food that typically, According to Statista (based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), 8.95 million Americans consumed five or more packages of Kraft brand Mac & Cheese per month.
Another estimation shows that, that the average American eats about 14 pounds (6.3 kg) of mac and cheese annually.
Kraft actually sells more than a million boxes of their Mac & Cheese per day! This isn’t counting any of the other brands on the shelves (or ambitious chefs who make their own at home).
While no one knows the exact origin of the dish (though we suspect it came from Italy), we do know that it was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite pasta dishes!
Today, macaroni and cheese is a beloved comfort food in the United States and is enjoyed in many variations, from the traditional baked version to creative, gourmet interpretations.
10. Ice Cream
According to the National Dairy Association, the average American eats roughly 22 pounds (10 kg) of ice cream each year, or about 4 gallons, which is about 40 tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. That’s about 1.6 billion gallons across the country.
While New Zealand tops the charts for ice cream consumption worldwide, Americans are in a firm second place!
This sweet treat originated in China around 200 CE. It was brought to Europe 1000 years later (by Marco Polo). The first ice cream parlor in North America was opened in 1770 by an Italian man in New York.
Originally, only the wealthy could afford a taste, but by the late 1800s, the American soda fountain shop had made ice cream accessible to everyone!
If you were curious – chocolate ice cream is America’s favorite flavor, though vanilla comes in a close second!
Read Also: How Much Food is Wasted in America? – Find Out Which 7 Food Items You’re Throwing Away!
|Food||Average per Year per American||Total Consumption in the US|
|Hamburgers||150 burgers||50 billion burgers|
|Fried Chicken||24-65 whole chickens||8 billion chickens|
|Tacos||N/A||4.5 billion tacos|
|French Fries||130 portions of medium fries||4.5 billion pounds|
|Hot Dogs||50 hot dogs||7 billion hot dogs|
|Oreos||N/A||34 billion Oreo cookies|
|Grilled Cheese||N/A||2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches|
|Mac & Cheese||14 pounds||N/A|
|Ice Cream||22 pounds (40 tubs)||1.6 billion gallons|
Ok, there you have it! Our list of 10 popular American foods that might just have you second-guessing your next trip to the drive-thru. But don’t worry; all hope is not lost! Just remember everything in moderation.
And if you can’t resist those crispy french fries, maybe try swapping them for these crispy sweet potato fries every once in a while. Your taste buds and waistline will thank you. Bon appétit!
What Do You Think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these most popular foods in America! If you think there were some popular foods left out, like soda pop, potato chips, apple pie, or Pop-Tarts, or if you disagree with some of the choices mentioned, feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below. Thank You.
To discover more interesting food facts and food industry statistics, check out these 10 Best Food Industry Statistics And Data Websites.