You’d think the Broncos getting destroyed by the Seahawks would have been the biggest surprise to come from the Super Bowl, but that wasn’t so. After Coke aired their “America the Beautiful” clip, throngs of people took to the internet to express “patriotic” outrage. In defense of the video, we look at 10 favorite American things more un-American than Coke’s commercial.
“The Star-Spangled Banner”
First things first: “America the Beautiful” is not the national anthem, as many outraged viewers suggested online. In actuality, the national anthem is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” although you may be shocked to discover that the song isn’t entirely American. True, it was written by Francis Scott Key, who was born in Maryland. However, Key set it to the tune of a popular song by British composer John Stafford Smith, and the song’s popular 19th-century arrangement comes courtesy of G.W.E. Friederich, a German composer.
With idioms like “as American as apple pie” and “for Mom and apple pie,” this treasured dessert strikes patriotic feelings into the heart of every American who serves or eats the down-home dish. However, the first written apple pie recipe has been traced back to England, where it was recorded by Geoffrey Chaucer. In 1589, British poet Robert Greene referenced the dessert in “Menaphon,” saying, “Thy breath is like the steeme of apple pies.” Evidence of the apple pie in Dutch culture dates back to the 1600s. This American staple didn’t start popping up here until around the 18th century.
The Statue of Liberty
You probably already knew that the people of France gave the Statue of Liberty to the U.S. The bulk of its design was the brainchild of French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Also instrumental? Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (yep, the dude who designed the Eiffel tower), who was tapped to design Lady Liberty’s massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework. Once completed, the statue was transported to New York Harbor on a French frigate called the Isère. Also part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument today is Ellis Island, the entry point for millions of immigrants to the U.S.
Sorry, pardner… John Wayne may have immortalized the idea of the American cowboy, but the tradition of these rugged fellas started in medieval Spain and in the vaquero culture of northern Mexico. The word “cowboy,” in fact, is likely a direct English translation of the term vaquero, which was used in reference to individuals who herded cattle from horseback.
The hot dog
If patriotism had a taste, it might just be a fully loaded ballpark dog. And, hey, how nice that we share our affinity for hot dogs with Germany! Albeit, their passion for this portable meal is a bit more involved than ours, since they invented it. Although there is some dispute over whether or not the “little dog sausage” was created in Frankfurt or in Coburg, the bottom line is these tasty treats come to us by way of the Germans. It is thought that Americans adopted hot dogs into our food culture after the common European sausage version was introduced in the States by butchers of many different nationalities.
Did you know that, according to Nielsen reports, the average American spends nearly 34 hours a week watching TV? That’s practically a full-time job! Alas, as much as we love the boob tube, we can’t lay claim to its invention. Television was the product of many people’s work over many years: German student Paul Nipkow, who patented the first electromechanical television system in 1884; German Constantin Perskyi, who coined the word television in 1900; French scientists Georges Rignoux and A. Fournier, who first demonstrated instantaneous image transmission in 1909; and Scottish inventor John Logie Baird, who gave the first public showing of silhouette images in motion and, later, achieved the first live transmission of moving images.
If this country decides anything that doesn’t completely assimilate to American mores and culture must be avoided, there are going to be a lot of unhappy men in the good ol’ U.S. The original form of the classic brewski stretches all the way back to the 5th millennium BC, and the popular libation has since been depicted in everything from Sumerian tablet art to 3900-year-old poems honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing. Where chemically confirmed barley beer is concerned, the earliest-known brews have been traced to the central Zagros Mountains of Iran. The word beer itself comes from old Germanic languages, and many beers now brewed in America follow the Germanic brewing tradition.
What would we do without peanut butter? There would be no more PB & J sandwiches, which the average child will eat 1,500 of before he or she graduates high school, according to the National Peanut Board. Not to mention, the nation would be out of much of the $4 billion dollars peanuts kick in to our economy every year. Happily, it looks like peanut butter is here to stay — and we have the Aztecs to thank for creating it. Such ground-breakers, they invented this beloved snack by grinding roasted peanuts into a paste.
Most Americans can’t imagine celebrating the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve without the sparkly glow of fireworks to commemorate the occasion. These festive party favors, however, are decidedly not American by nature. Actually, the earliest documented fireworks burst onto the scene in 7th-century China. They are still used today to mark important Chinese events like the Mid-Autumn Festival. Accordingly, China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.
The bottom line
We look different and speak different from each other because we are different. That is what makes America so very beautiful — it’s a melting pot. It’s a place where people of many different races, credos and walks of life have come to call home. To wit, let us defer to the Declaration of Independence drafted by America’s founding fathers: