There are some things that are just … American. As American as apple pie is, apparently, not. But here are a few things I think are, indeed, wholly American experiences.
The cereal aisle
Just imagine a life without four different kinds of Cap’n Crunch, Chex, or Cheerios. That life, should you choose to accept it, awaits in Europe. There are no cereal aisles. There is a small cereal section, which generally includes Special K, cornflakes, and other sorts of sugary cereals along with perhaps some muesli. Should you wish for variety upon variety of granola, oatmeal, and bran flakes, you are out of luck, my dear friend. SOL. As a child, I remember hoping, praying that such wondrous cereals such as Alpha Bits, Cap’n Crunch All Berries, and Frosted Flakes would be on sale, so that my bargain-hunting mother would buy them for me. (If it wasn’t on sale, she wasn’t buying. We were stuck with the kind that came in huge bags, the store brand, not nearly as fun or sugary.)
Monday Night Football
Or … American football in general
I think that we would be lost without such intellectual greats as John Madden to lead us into the foray of live football every Monday night. (See also: Faith Hill) During its storied past, celebrities guests such as President Clinton, John Lennon, and even Kermit the Frog were part of the broadcast. The thing is, American football is mainly celebrated as the “world’s greatest sport” only by, ahem, Americans. So if you go to Europe, get used to the fact that no one gives a rat’s you-know-what about the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Jets. (They do, however, like the NBA.)
Okay, according to Wikipedia (shut up, this is not a term paper and I am allowed to use Wikipedia), it is not technically called that, but you get the idea. Miles, feet, ounces, pounds, etc. No one outside of the grayed countries in the above map uses them. We arethe only (only!) industrialized nation to continue using this nonsensical form of measurement. I’ll admit, I prefer to know the temperature in Fahrenheit too, but I’m getting used to Celsius, and hey…I weigh less in kilos than I do in pounds (always a plus). So, I’ll take it.
Choices, Choices, Choices
Okay, so I admit this is perhaps related to the cereal aisle one, but hear me out. Do you ever go to a restaurant and become anxious due to the large amount of choices set before you? At a place like Applebees, for instance, a ubiquitous presence in many American small towns, there are typically around 8 varieties of salads, 3 soups, 10 burgers, 5 chicken plates, 10 types of sandwiches, kids meals, drinks, wines, beers, milkshakes, and on and on. Does it overwhelm you sometimes? It does me because I like to try everything. When I go to the grocery store, it’s much the same. How many different types of Oreos do we really need? There are regular, double stuff, mint, peanut butter, golden, chocolate, reduced fat, blah blah blah. Do I even need to mention ice cream? pasta? sauces? ketchups? salad dressings?
Now, I’m not complaining. Honestly, I love having the option to go to my personal mecca, Trader Joe’s. I love their quirky products and free sample coffees. I like their wine and buying 3 buck chuck. I just think it’s funny how we don’t even realize the variety of choices that awaits out there in the American market. Are we lucky or not so lucky? You be the judge.
I’m sure there are bits of Americana that I could be mentioning, but am not. Please tell me things you believe are unique to America in the comments!