How come every cheap knock-off of a staple food gets labeled “American”?

You know…cheese, bread, chocolate…buttercream? It’s enough to give a food-conscious Yankee a complex. However it’s really not such a bad thing when you consider that Americans (and other New Worlders) are and always have been consummate experimenters — forever ready to cast tradition aside and embrace the new. Sometimes this works out for the best (think peanut butter, light bulbs and artificial hearts), sometimes not so much (PCBs, Doritos, atom bombs). But there’s an awful lot of stuff in the middle. Vegetable shortening leaps to mind. Sure it doesn’t offer the same taste, texture and satisfaction level that butter does, but its functional benefits, you have to admit, are formidable. There’s also the price point. Let’s not underestimate the significance of that. But then that’s really a big part of the American ethos, is it not? Making the comforts that were once the exclusive domain of the rich available to all? Clearly, the quality isn’t always there, but you can’t blame a rough-and-tumble frontier nation for trying, now can you?

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