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United States Science

Think I'm Not American? Pass the Hamburgers. 362

purkinje writes "Immigrants and their children may choose to eat American food as a way to fit in, a new study found, which may help explain why immigrants catch up to the country's obesity levels in 15 years. The researchers cast doubt on some subjects' Americanness, asking if they spoke English or saying they had to be American to participate; this provokes what psychologists call stereotype threat, the fear you'll confirm negative stereotypes about your group. White participants weren't affected by these comments, but Asian-American participants were more likely to list quintessentially American foods — burgers, BLTs, mac and cheese — as their favorites when the researchers called their status as American into question. They were also more likely to order and eat those dishes, consuming an average of 182 more calories than their non-threatened counterparts."
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Think I'm Not American? Pass the Hamburgers.

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  • Ironically (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Ironically, the Hamburger is from Hamburg. It's a German meal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tmosley ( 996283 )
      Yeah, and French Fries are from France. FRANCE I SAY!

      And Salisbury steak is from England! And pizza is from Pisa!

      Or people with those nationalities immigrated here and named their inventions after their hometowns in order to drum up sales of the "exotic" food.
      • Re:Ironically (Score:4, Interesting)

        by arielCo ( 995647 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @06:11PM (#36145948)

        Salisbury steak was invented by an American physician, Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823–1905), and the term "Salisbury steak" was in use in the USA from 1897.

        The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek the word was spelled or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, in Balkan languages: Serbo-Croatian pita, Albanian pite, Bulgarian pita, Modern Hebrew pitth via the Judaeo-Spanish pita.

      • Yeah, and French Fries are from France. FRANCE I SAY!

        Belgium, actually. And properly served with mayo, not ketchup, although I'd be willing to accept ranch dressing as a suitably American substitute!

      • Re:Ironically (Score:5, Informative)

        by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @06:29PM (#36146172) Homepage

        Nice try, but the only irony is that all of those are indeed aptly named:

        French Fries
        For also in the 1840s, pomme frites ("fried potatoes") first appeared in Paris. Sadly, we don't know the name of the ingenious chef who first sliced the potato into long slender pieces and fried them. But they were immediately popular, and were sold on the streets of Paris by push-cart vendors.

        Frites spread to America where they were called French fried potatoes. You asked how they got their name--pretty obvious, I'd say: they came from France, and they were fried potatoes, so they were called "French fried potatoes." The name was shortened to "french fries" in the 1930s. []

        Salisbury Steak

        In the late 19th century, Dr. James Henry Salisbury came up with chopped beef patties to cure Civil War soldiers sufferering from "camp diarrhea." []

        Pizza is a type of bread and dish that has existed since time immemorial in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. []

        And for good measure:
        Belgian Waffles
        Vermersch started making waffles from a recipe of his wife's when living in Belgium before the outbreak of World War II. []

        Even the name Hamburger has its origin in Hamburg, Germany:
        In the late 18th century, the largest ports in Europe were in Germany. Sailors who had visited the ports of Hamburg, Germany and New York, brought this food and term "Hamburg steak" into popular usage. []

        • The Romans ate a ground beef patty all they were missing was the bun.

          Junk food has been around as far back as someone said hey I'm hungry and in a bit of a hurry.

          Beer was probably the first "junk" food along with cheese and meat on a stick.

          • Beer was probably the first "junk" food along with cheese and meat on a stick.

            You say this from the comfort of the modern world where clean water is readily available. Beer was invented as a safe beverage because water used to be not so clean.

      • In the first 6 books of the Aeneid (often read in 4th year Latin in high school), it's foretold that Aeneas and his followers would someday be so hungry, they would eat their plates. Then later, in the second 6 books (more likely to be read in college Latin courses), their plates were all smashed, so they hit on the idea of cooking their food on dough and eating everything that way. Aeneas' son Julus, who was too young to know of the prophecy, remarked "Hey look everyone! We're eating our plates!" But every
  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @05:56PM (#36145730) Homepage

    Most, if not all, cultures on this planet use food as a method of identity. If you went to China or Japan or France and still only sought out American-style food, you would likely be outcast. It's the same in America... especially for children! What recent immigrant children have to endure in the realm of food-mockery is genuine. /remembers bringing tamales to school in elementary school //remembers watching my Chinese friend bring dried fish and rice. ///kids are horrible and get away with it.

    • by pelirojatica ( 533396 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @06:07PM (#36145902)
      Indeed. But it turns around, for some of us. The empanadas I was teased about in elementary school are now (20+ years later) coveted by my friends. It's a good thing my mother taught me to ignore the jerks... and how to make empanadas!
      • by eepok ( 545733 )

        I hear that!

      • You were teased for eating empandas? Bizarre. I'm a lily white Irish/German and making empanadas right this moment. Gotta go take them out of the oven in a couple minutes.

        • by eepok ( 545733 )

          You're also not a Mexican child in a public school surrounded by white children.

          • In the U.S. it is the lone white kid surrounded by Mexican, and black kids. Do not believe the media hype. Unless you live in Norway, 'white' people are not 'on top' any more.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              In the U.S. it is the lone white kid surrounded by Mexican, and black kids. Do not believe what you see. Do not believe the statistics. Instead, believe made-up bullshit spouted by Rush Limbaugh and other dishonest partisans. The whites are endangered!!!!111!!

              Fixed that for you.

    • As a Canadian of German decent - I agree. Try bringing blood sausage and cow-tongue sandwiches to school for lunch...
      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Bring them and ignore the little morons. I still get crap at work because I like to let the teawurst age a little at room temp before I eat it.

    • The day the first McDonalds open in Taipei, Taiwan, a line stretched out the front door more than 300 meters. And according The Times:

      "In terms of profit, France is second only to the US itself." []

      • Behind the French gov't, McDonalds is the largest employer in France. It can't all be tourists....

        I am an American, and I stopped eating there years ago. But I loved it when I was a kid. You could probably say that I obsessed over it when I was a kid. I even liked the McRib.
    • I don't know about the outcast part, but kids are horrible. I don't give a rats ass what people eat. Maybe kids do, because they are all morons since their experience and mind aren't developed fully yet. I try just about anything. I like eating anything Ive ever tried but Menudo. Even then I can see why people like it.
    • Ever since I was a kid, I've loved Mexican and Chinese and Italian food.

      Sure, I like burgers, but you say "spaghetti" or "tacos" or "kung pao" to a kid and you're getting whoops of joy. Even if it's shitty school cafeteria renditions of them.

      Kids are eating burgers because it's different from what they get at home every day and they like it. End of stupid story.

      Now can we get on with pointing out the inherent bigotry of constantly questioning the validity of immigration?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2011 @05:58PM (#36145772)

    Research indicates that Asian-American SAT scores drop in the third generation and drop-out rates catch up with the rest of the population by the fifth. Following the lowering of ambitions from 'medical school' to 'minimum wage cashier at Walmart' in seventh-generation Asian-Americans, assimilation is deemed complete.

  • Rtfa (Score:5, Funny)

    by clinko ( 232501 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @06:02PM (#36145830) Journal

    Anyone who doesn't want that burger isn't un-American. They're inhuman.

  • It may not be nutritious, but it sure tastes good. I recently worked with some vendors from the UK, and they said their favorite part of America was the food. I imagine that when you only have it occasionally, the ingredients don't really matter that much to you. (Of course, this was food at nicer sit-down restaurants, not fast food.)

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      If it's not "nutritious", then it probably doesn't fully achieve the potential of the particular "cuisine" either.'s like the guy talking about Taco Bell vs. Tacos in general.

    • That isn't because our food's amazing, it's just that the UK is the very bottom of the ladder.
      • What's the old joke? Oh yeah:

        Heaven is a place where the lovers are Italian, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the police are English, the teenagers are Japanese, the movie makers are American, the musicians are Russian, the women are Swedish, and the bankers are Swiss.

        Hell is a place where the lovers are Swiss, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the police are German, the teenagers are American, the movie makers are Japanese, the musicians are Swedish, the women are Russian, an

        • the movie makers are Japanese

          Some people like various genres of anime. You're making Hell look good.

          the musicians are Swedish

          Did the Amiga demoscene musicians go to Hell? You're making Hell look good.

      • Well, I've never been there, but I am told they have many fine Indian, Greek, Chinese, and other ethnic restaurants at which you can find food with flavo[u]r... Which is pretty much how it would be here except that we have discovered spices in the new world

  • When an animal is threatened, it seems to make sense for it to take in extra calories, if they're available, that it can use for fight or flight. Only so many extra, or it will just want to lie down and snooze, but nature isn't usually so generous with calories for evolution to take that into account. Of course, the choice of the form those calories comes in does seem to be specific to the threat.
  • by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @06:44PM (#36146382)

    We have a very diverse group here at work. Probably about a dozen different nationalities, but the cultural divide is pretty much split along two axes:

    If you make a 2x2 grid and populate it with people based on their eating and drinking habits, you'd find that members of each group don't interact much with those outside their group. And if they do, it's much more likely to be from a neighboring cell on the grid than from opposite corner

  • When I started caring about my diet and wanting to improve my health, I found myself eating a lot of "Asian" and "Middle Eastern" types of food. I was a vegetarian for a while, but have since started eating meat again. The idea of trying to make vegetarian equivalents of traditional American foods often leads to some not so great results. On the other hand, there are other cultures that eat primarily vegetarian diets and have been doing so for generations. Not surprisingly, their food tastes great despi

  • and easily available.

    • Read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Billions of dollars of chemical and food additive research goes into making fast food taste good. It kind of creeped me out to learn that.

  • Royale With Cheese (Score:3, Informative)

    by no1nose ( 993082 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @07:08PM (#36146722)

    Jules: Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger. Vincent, ever have a Big Kahuna Burger?
    [Vincent shakes his head]
    Jules: Wanna bite? They're real tasty.
    Vincent: Ain't hungry.
    Jules: Well, if you like burgers give 'em a try sometime. I can't usually get 'em myself because my girlfriend's a vegitarian which pretty much makes me a vegitarian. But I do love the taste of a good burger. Mm-mm-mm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
    Brett: No.
    Jules: Tell 'em, Vincent.
    Vincent: A Royale with cheese.
    Jules: A Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that?
    Brett: Because of the metric system?
    Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett! You're a smart motherf*cker.

  • There is a much better explanation -- immigrants would not expect that food as unhealthy as this would be allowed to be sold in the first place.

    This also explains why foreign countries seem to have more corrupt governments -- in US all corruption is at the very top, and is perfectly legal.

  • "In this country (America) you people throw away better food that I ate in mine" --A Sikh I met.

    Good people, dry sense of humor. Work way too damn hard (complement).

    Don't touch the knife.

  • There's no big mystery as to why immigrants would turn to hamburgers. They are quick, cheap, and taste damn good. Mystery solved. Sometimes it's just not necessary to read more into something than is really there.
  • What would you say if I told you I've invented a low cost, low maintenance household device that could easily last for a decade or more?

    Say hello to Frank's heart!

    I've harnessed Frank's heart. I was cleaning the snakes out of the pantry yesterday when suddenly it hit me... Nothing works harder than the human heart, especially when it's clogged with cholesterol. Now, Frank's heart was a mess, and it's getting worse all the time.

    The rest was easy. Frank eats, I surgically attach a generator to his heart, a

  • Study is Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whong09 ( 1307849 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:36PM (#36147642)
    I'm asian-american and if I filled out that form I'd be putting down hamburgers, mac and cheese, chicken pot pie, etc. down as well. Why? Because they're damn tasty that's why. I grew up eating both Chinese food and American food and in terms of which is my favorite well... My body likes calories. I don't like american culture more than anyone else, but how can you hate on ooey-gooey mac and cheese? It's pretty simple.
  • Strange... I'm an American and I wasn't overweight when I was in the U.S., eating hamburgers and things... It was when I went to India for ten years, eating rich, greasy Indian foods that I ballooned out till I can't bend down to tie my shoe laces without huffing and puffing and being out of breath...

    Now that I'm back in the U.S. again and eating a fairly typical American diet, I'm finally losing some of that excess poundage...

  • by Natales ( 182136 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:35PM (#36148520)
    For the record, I'm a Chilean immigrant with 10 years in Silicon Valley, having visited about 28 countries and lived in 4, and I'm also a foodie.

    Just based on the demographics they chose for the study, it seems to me that this particular group is still very susceptible to peer pressure. In my personal experience having a lot of Asian-American and purely Asian colleagues as well as friends in every place in the world, I have to say that when an individual no longer has the pressure to "fit" in a specific environment, and their cultural differences are just accepted by their peers, they tend to choose whatever they like, some things Asian and some things American.

    Thinking people, in the right [accepting] environment, and at the right age (past the age where they are more susceptible to peer pressure) tend to develop a stronger sense of self, in many cases, becoming a trans-national, where the place where you were born no longer defines you, but you choose how to define yourself. Don't underestimate the fact that people, individuals, do grow up, change and adapt.

    Food in itself is one of those amazing things that tends to mark how we see the world, and yet, once you are exposed to many different cultures, it is just natural to learn to appreciate everything and everyone. Food is one of those rare things that can unite us more than divide us.
  • Availability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:54PM (#36148662)

    As an Englishman who's spent the last decade in the States...

    It has nothing to do with my trying to fit in and everything to do with what I can get for a decent price at a decent quality.

    If I'd like Shepherd's Pie, my options are very expensive faux Irish theme pubs or lousy quality from cheap theme pubs that have once seen a picture of what a Shepherd's Pie might look like. If I'd like a proper roast with roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, I can go to a senior citizen trap and get decent beef, terrible fried potatoes and a look of bewilderment if I mention Yorkshire pudding. If I want a good curry (Partition and its immigrants have made it a staple in England), I can get something dire at the mall, something mediocre in my city (thank you H1Bs) but I have to (and do, regularly) drive 80 miles each way and pay about $50/person to get great baltis, kormas, etc.

    Or, if I'd like pizza, I can choose from any of a dozen local pizza joints. If I'd like a burger, I can choose from any of twenty chains plus local specialty places. And Mexican offers me hundreds of hole in the wall places plus at least half a dozen major chains. I can eat at every one of those for well under $10 too.

    So, yes, I eat like an American and my waist rapidly started to look like an American's too. It has nothing to do with trying to fit in and everything to do with what's available. Give me a Sainsbury's and a Tesco, a good chippy (no, those things Americans call English pub chips really aren't), a good kebab shop (gyros may start with the same ingredients but are nothing like a British kebab) and a lifetime's supply of Cadbury's, Ginsters, etc. and I'll stay the hell away from American assimilation.

    I don't think it's even a national thing. Ask any Californian who'd visited what Mexican food is like in Minnesota (not unlike eating a photograph of a burrito: it looks like one but tastes like cardboard). Ask any Pennsylvanian what a cheesesteak is like in California (for the love of God, why would you put avocado and lettuce in it?). Those people will also assimilate to the good local foods rather than endure the terrible bastardizations of what they love back home. Nothing to do with fitting in, everything to do with availability.

    If only there was some common saying about correllation not being equal to causation.

    And now you may all proceed with the English food and dentistry jokes. You've been very patient.

    • by lahvak ( 69490 )

      That's exactly right, I wish I had mod points. If you are an Asian in the Midwest, your choices are bad Asian food, very bad Asian food, or burgers. If you are a central European in the Midwest, your choices are driving 250 miles to Chicago, or bad Asian food. Or burgers.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears