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Uploaded:2015-06-03
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A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John looks 24 foods that probably didn't originate where you think they did!
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 Introduction (Italian Wedding Soup)


Hi I'm John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube, and did you know Italian wedding soup is not actually Italian?  The dish originated in Spain before it was brought to Italy.

Also, our English name for Italian wedding soup is a mistranslation. The soup's actual name means "married soup" in Italian, referencing the marriage of the ingredients. It has nothing to do with weddings.

And that's the first of many foods that don't come from where you think they come from that you're going to learn about in today's video.

 Opening Credits


 02 (Taquito)


(00:36)
Taquito is Spanish for "small taco", but it's not Mexican like you might think.  It was actually developed in Southern California in the 1930s. Two separate restaurants have to share the credit for the dish: Cielito Lindo and El Indio Mexican Restaurant.

 03 (Chicken Tikka Masala)


(00:48)
Chicken Tikka Masala can be found at pretty much every Indian restaurant in the US and the UK, but it's not actually from India. There are a few different origin stories, but most agree that it's from the UK. One story goes that it was invented in Glasgow by the Asian kitchen staff of a restaurant who wanted to make something that would be appealing to their clientele.

  04 (Russian dressing) 


(1:06)
Nashua, New Hampshire, is the birthplace of Russian dressing, not Russia. It was invented around 1910 by a caterer and grocer named James E. Colburn. 

  05 (Italian dressing) 


(1:16)
Also, Italian dressing is not Italian. It originated in the United States.

  06 (French dressing) 


(1:19)
And you will not be surprised to learn that French dressing is not French. We don't exactly know where it was invented, but we do know that it was Kraft's first pourable dressing product back in 1925. Our French Llama is, of course, also American. Nah, actually it was made in Vietnam.

  07 (Baguettes) 


(1:34)
And speaking of things French people didn't invent, the baguettes that the French know and love might be more Austrian than French, although this one is very controversial. In the 19th century, France got steam ovens thanks to an Austrian man, August Zang. Before that, the French also typically used whole grains rather than white flour for their bread, so some say that baguettes aren't really French. Like in 2007, the French Poilâne baking company stopped producing baguettes, arguing that they were Austrian.

  08 (Croissants) 


(2:01)
Whether or not he's responsible for baguettes, Zang definitely brought croissants to France, so they are verifiably Austrian. In fact, similar dishes have existed there since the 13th century.

  09 (French toast) 


(2:11)
Okay, last thing the French didn't invent: French toast. The breakfast food actually dates back to the 4th or 5th century, where it was found in a book of recipes in Latin. The name "French toast" probably emerged in England sometime around the 17th century.

  10 (Hamburger) 


(2:24)
The US usually gets credit for the modern hamburger, despite the food being named after the German town of Hamburg. There were many early European predecessors to the hamburger, though, like a beef patty recipe from early 4th-century Rome. Then there was the similar Hamburg steak in the late 19th century, but that was a filet of beef often served raw, so, y'know, a far cry from today's McDonald's experience. We don't know who in the US made the hamburger that we know today, but it emerged sometime between the late 19th century and early 20th century.

  11 (French fries) 


(2:54)
French fries, however, are not American. The Belgians have uncovered stories from the late 17th century about their ancestors deep-frying fish and then, when the river froze over, they deep-fried potatoes to look like fish.

  12 (Pasta primavera) 


(3:10)
Pasta primavera is not Italian. It was actually invented in 1975 by a New York chef named Sirio Maccioni, who was vacationing in Canada. He then brought the dish back to the United States. So it was technically invented in Canada, but by an American.

  13 (Crab Rangoon) 


(3:26)
Crab Rangoon is not authentic Chinese food. It was inspired by Burmese cuisine, actually, but invented in the US. We know it's been around since at least the 1950s, where it was served at the restaurant Trader Vic's in San Francisco. 

  14 (Pupu platter) 


(3:39)
Speaking of which, the pupu platter is not Chinese. It's actually from Hawaii. In Hawaiian, "pupu" means "appetizer" and the dish was brought to the rest of the US in 1934 where it was served at a Hawaiian restaurant in Californian named Don the Beach Comber, which is not really a restaurant name so much as a person name, but whatever. You know, back then they had weird restaurants. And then eventually American Chinese restaurants also adopted the name. We don't even know for sure that Chinese finger traps are Chinese. My whole worldview just fell apart.

  15 (Caesar salad) 


(4:04)
Caesar salad sounds like it should be Italian, because Julius Caesar was from Rome and everything, but it turns out that it's Mexican and also was not named after Julius Caesar. It was, however, invented by an Italian immigrant. His name was Caesar Cardini. He ran some restaurants in the US and Mexico and started serving his salad in the 1920s, but he's perhaps best known for starring in our very first Mental Floss video.

  16 (Chimichangas) 


(4:27)
And speaking of Mental Floss videos and Mexico, if you watch our Misconception show, then you'll probably know that chimichangas were not invented in Mexico. The exact inventor is unknown, but they probably came from a restaurant worker in Arizona. 

  17 (Mongolian BBQ) 


(4:38)
Okay, let's speed up. Mongolian barbecue is not Mongolian. The style of cooking came from Taiwan in the 1950s. 

  18 (Egg rolls) 


(4:44)
Like a lot of American Chinese food, egg rolls are not Chinese. We don't know exactly who invented them, but we do know that they're Westernized Chinese food. Spring rolls, however, are Chinese.

  19 (Fortune cookies) 


(4:52)
Fortune cookies were invented in the United States and popularized in the 20th century in California.

  20 (General Tso's chicken) 


(4:57)
The Hunanese get credit for General Tso's chicken, but you won't find it in Hunan, China. It probably originated either in Taiwan or New York.

  21 (Garlic bread) 


(5:05)
Garlic bread is not Italian. It's been part of American cuisine since around 1947. 

  22 (Spaghetti and meatballs) 


(5:09)
Spaghetti with meatballs wasn't invented in Italy either. It was first made by Italians who were living in New York City in the early 1900s. We invented all of the great foods: Russian dressing, spaghetti with meatballs...

  23 (Apple pie) 


(5:20)
...but not apple pie. There's a recipe for that dessert from 1381 in England.

  24 (Fajitas) 


(5:26)
And finally, I return to my salon to tell you that fajitas are not actually Mexican food. They were invented in Texas during the 1930s, and the Oxford English Dictionary claims that the word itself wasn't even found in print until 1971. 

  End Credits 


(5:41)
Thanks for watching Mental Floss here on YouTube, which is made with the help of all of these nice people. I'm gonna keep talking for a second so their names stay up on the screen and you should read all of them. They're very nice people, really. Anyway, thanks for watching and as we say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome.