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10 Surprising Foods You’d Never Guess Were American

Your exotic taste for fortune cookies and chimichangas is more local than you think.

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Many Chinese fortune cookie close up279photo Studio/Shutterstock

Fortune cookies aren’t from China…

They’re from California! Tweaking a Japanese recipe, Makoto Hagiwari claims his San Francisco teahouse invented the modern paper-stuffed fortune cookie in 1914; David Jung says it was his Los Angeles noodle shop in 1918. Your fortune says: Only fools go to war over cookies. Here are the foods you didn’t know were illegal in the US.

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Home made Herb and Garlic Bread on wood table top view.jajam_e/Shutterstock

Garlic bread isn’t from Italy…

It’s from Michigan! One tale is that soldiers serving in Italy during World War II were spoiled on bruschetta, a classic dish of toasted bread drizzled with olive oil. Savvy chefs met the returning troops’ demand by slathering toasted white bread with garlic and margarine. In 1970, Cole’s Breads planted a foodie flag in Michigan by selling the world’s first frozen garlic bread.

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Traditional Mexican dish - chimichanga. Corn cake with minced meat, pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, zira and guacomole sauce from avocadoOlya Detry/Shutterstock

Chimichangas aren’t from Mexico…

They’re from Arizona! Several chefs claim the chimi as theirs, including the founder of El Charro Cafe. In 1950, she fumbled a burrito into some frying oil, she says. There were kids around, so she blurted out “chimichanga” instead of the cuss word she wanted to. The name, like the oil, stuck.

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russian chocolate curd cakeBildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

German chocolate cake isn’t from Germany…

It’s from Massachusetts! The man who invented the sweet, dark chocolate at the core of this cake wasn’t German, but his name was. Boston baker Sam German created a new type of baking chocolate for Baker Chocolate Company in 1852; 100 years later, a Dallas paper popularized the recipe for “German chocolate cake.” These are the disgusting foods you won’t believe people actually eat around the world.

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Three toasted English muffin halves on an old metal sheet panAlice Day/Shutterstock

English muffins aren’t from England…

They’re from New York! It’s not English, and it’s not a muffin… what’s the deal? Turns out Samuel Bath Thomas actually called his creations “toaster crumpets” when he debuted them at his New York bakery, which opened in 1880. The term English muffins came later, but Thomas’ can still be seen on them in grocery stores today.

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Cuban traditional food, snack, party food. Cuban sandwich from baguette with ham, pork, cheese, pickles. On black table copy spaceRimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

The cuban sandwich isn’t from Cuba…

It’s from Florida! There’s a beef over this ham: Did it originate in Tampa or Miami? While the cities feud, this much is agreed upon: Cuban sandwiches started as a cheap lunch offered to Cuban immigrants working in Florida cigar factories in the late 1800s, and their popularity grew with the population.

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classic french dip au jus or beef dip with fries and sauteed onions take awayfarbled/Shutterstock

French dip sandwiches aren’t from France …

It’s from California! Although the inventor of the sandwich is French, the creation of the sandwich happened on American soil. Philippe Mathieu opened a deli and sandwich shop in Los Angeles back in 1918. According to the restaurant, Philippe accidentally dropped a sandwich roll into the drippings of a roasting pan. The customer enjoyed the extra juice so much that he came back to have the same exact sandwich. Here are other foods you didn’t know were invented by accident.

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Spicy sweet and sour general tso chicken with fried rice and purple cabbage overhead shotElena Veselova/Shutterstock

General Tso’s chicken isn’t from China …

It’s from New York! This dish is named after Chinese statesman General Tso Tsung-t’ang. As for the origin of the dish, there are disputes over who started the craze. That said, it’s commonly agreed that this American dish comes from New York.

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Thousand Island Dressing with ingredients close-up on the table. Horizontal view from aboveAS Food studio/Shutterstock

Russian dressing isn’t from Russia …

It’s from New Hampshire! This dressing contains caviar, a popular Russian ingredient, hence the name. But it was actually a grocer named James E. Colburn in New Hampshire who invented the mayo and ketchup-based dressing in 1924.

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tagliatelle alfredo primavera, creamy sauce with vegetables and home made pastafarbled/Shutterstock

Pasta primavera isn’t from Italy …

It’s from New York! This combination of pasta, cream, cheese, and fresh vegetables was a hot commodity in the 1970s. That’s thanks to the popularity of an off-menu special at Le Cirque from restaurateur Sirio Maccioni. The dish was even featured in The New York Times. Next, check out these unbelievable food facts that will change how you eat.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest