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17 Things Americans Didn’t Know Were American Until They Left the Country

  Every country has its own unique combination of traditions, everyday ways of life, and rich cultural preferences that are not seen across ...

 Every country has its own unique combination of traditions, everyday ways of life, and rich cultural preferences that are not seen across the rest of the globe, and America is no different. While social media may be teaching global audiences about worldwide habits, these 17 things are still uniquely American.

Red Solo Cups

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Synonymous with parties and barbecues across America, the red Solo cup has become somewhat of an icon. Smithsonian Magazine says that the cup was created in the 1970s and “quickly became popular for its sturdy design, resilient materials, opacity, and large capacity.”

Baby Showers

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While baby showers are gaining popularity across the world due to the American cultural influence on social media, the games, themes, and gift-giving customs at these events are a distinctly American tradition. The event is usually held a few weeks before the baby is due and is to shower expectant mothers with gifts and support.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

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A school lunchbox staple, the PB&J is a unique culinary concoction that many non-Americans find peculiar. Originating in the 20th century, the sandwich initially gained popularity as an easy, affordable, and nutritious option for soldiers during World War II.

Yard Sales

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In the U.S., it’s normal to sell your used clothes and belongings from your yard or garage, but the idea of browsing and buying someone else’s household items is not common across the rest of the world. Reflecting the American ethos of thrifting and community interaction, these sales are deeply entrenched in U.S. culture.

College Greek Life

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The deep traditions and networks of fraternities and sororities are a significant part of college life in the U.S., but they aren’t found across the world. While they may be known for the party lifestyle they offer students, U.S. News says that “statistics show Greek life members tend to graduate at a higher rate than average.”

Tipping Culture

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While tipping is standard practice in restaurants, bars, and for certain services in America and forms part of the employee’s pay, in other countries, it is more of an optional extra to reflect great quality service. Many visitors to the U.S. are surprised by the expected tipping rate and find it hard to understand the nuances of tipping norms.

Spray Cheese

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Invented in the 1960s, spray cheese is rarely found in other countries. According to Mashed, “the sprayable canned cheese was pitched as the ultimate convenience food, marketed as ‘Instant cheese for instant parties.’ Nabisco offered seven flavors, from classics like cheddar to more offbeat options like shrimp cocktail and fried onion.”

The Pledge of Allegiance

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In many American schools, students will gather daily to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This tradition embodies the American values of patriotism and national unity and symbolizes the respect that citizens have for the USA, but pledging allegiance to the flag is not common in other countries.

Free Refills

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Many restaurants, diners, and cafés in America offer free refills on drinks, reflecting the American emphasis on value and service in the dining experience. This, however, often surprises visitors to the USA, as in other countries, each beverage is generally paid for individually.

Prescription Drug Advertisements

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The U.S. is one of only a few countries where companies are allowed to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers. According to Vox, “Drugmakers spend some $6 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising each year,” with the aim of making consumers aware of the name of a drug before they might need it.

Tailgating Parties

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Gathering in parking lots to celebrate before sports events, concerts, or other events is a quintessentially American tradition. While other cultures do have pre-event gatherings, tailgating combines food, sports, and community in a way that is unique to American culture.

Oversized Food Portions

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As a well-known aspect of American dining culture, large food portions in restaurants and diners have become synonymous with the American values of abundance and value for money. Visitors to the country will often comment on the size of meals in the U.S. in comparison to the smaller portions served across other areas of the world.

Pumpkin Spice Everything

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The pumpkin spice latté has created a seasonal cultural phenomenon that floods social media feeds every autumn, with desserts and coffees all flavored with pumpkin spice. Although social media has made it somewhat of a global trend, the craze is predominantly American.

State Fairs

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Held in August and September, state fairs are an American tradition that brings together agriculture, entertainment, and the local community. According to Coming Home Magazine, “The Great New York State Fair is the longest-running state fair in the U.S., drawing over one million attendees annually. The 13-day event highlights agriculture, entertainment, education, and technology.”

Super-sized Vehicles

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Bigger is better in American culture, and cars are no different. Large vehicles, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, are a notable feature of American automotive culture and are preferred for their spacious interiors. While large vehicles are used globally, the American trend for super-size personal vehicles, even in urban areas, is fairly unique to the USA.

Homecoming Celebrations

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Homecoming is typically a week-long celebration in American high schools and colleges. It includes sports, parades, and dances. While many other countries do celebrate school achievements and mark the end of the school year, this unique community-based style of celebration is distinct to America.

College Basketball March Madness

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The NCAA college basketball tournament, known as March Madness, captivates the nation each year. Deeply ingrained in American culture, people from all walks of life take part, and the event showcases a uniquely American blend of sports, community, and competition.

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