Rootbeer Flavored Cookies

August 13, 2014

donut sign 21

Image and text by Gabrielle.

We were laughing yesterday about some of things our exchange students noticed about America. The first thing they commented on was how BIG everything seemed, from the moment they disembarked from the airplance. The cars, the freeways, the buildings, the stores — they were wide-eyed at how huge everything was in comparison to their own countries.

They also had a talent for zeroing in on the craziest or most extreme items in the grocery stores or on the menus at restaurants. For example, during his last week here, Chris purchased a package of Rootbeer Float Flavored Chips Ahoy Cookies. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Don’t they sound like the strangest concoction? I had no idea they existed! Another time, we were at an outdoor mall and stopped at Fuddruckers for burgers. Victor and Charles ordered the enormous 1-pound burger just to see what it was like! Of course, I had never noticed it was on the menu and had certainly never heard or seen anyone order it. It’s one of those things that’s much more of a novelty than an actual menu item. During the roadtrip, when we were stocking up on snacks, Charles requested a bottle of Easy Cheese — as a Frenchman, he prides himself on knowledge of the best cheeses, and wanted to see this mockery of cheese product for himself.

We didn’t mind at all when they pointed out the strange things they would see. America has a reputation for crazy food and lots of it, so I think they were pre-disposed to notice the oddest bits. And we know we did the same sort of thing when we lived in France. We couldn’t help but notice the large glass jars of snails at the grocery store — though I never actually saw such a jar in anyone’s grocery cart.

To balance out the extremes, we would also try to give them common experiences. Sample breakfasts might be a bowl of corn flakes or Cheerios, another morning might be donuts, or something more traditional like sausage and eggs. Beyond food experiences, they would join us for family screen time, or run errands with us.

It was fun to see our world through their eyes. And now, when I’m at the store, I’m more likely to notice any strange new food items that have popped up.

If you were making an itinerary for visitors to your own town, what are the strangest things, and the most common things, you’d put on the schedule? What do you think they’d notice about where you live? What would you hope they’d notice?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Siobhan August 13, 2014 at 7:13 am

When my cousin came to Chicago from rural Ireland to visit for the first time (age 25) he had never seen an escalator and was more than a bit terrified. Also we rode a glass elevator up to the top floor of Water Tower Place which is a big shopping center in downtown Chicago and he turned green! Two other Irish friends came to visit Chicago- in their late 20′s- and they had never tasted root beer or eaten popcorn. They both found the taste “horrible!” and couldn’t fathom why someone would eat or drink such a thing!


2 erinmalia August 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

not about the visitors, but i must admit that the rootbeer cookies aren’t terrible! our grocery store was giving away some as samples, and who am i to turn down a free cookie?! i haven’t purchased any, but they were pretty good. i’ve also made homemade rootbeer cookies and my husband loves them!


3 Valerie August 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

My French family pretty much follows the annual “vacance” schedule so their visits have always been in the summer, in the desert. One of my lasting memories of one of those visits was a declaration by my cousin that we had “the world’s hottest garage” … which at the end of the day with two hot cars in it it can get pretty toasty but I had never observed it in that fashion.

Plus, gotta say my cousins love a few days in Las Vegas .. an exercise in American excess with a big dose of great people watching.



4 Giulia August 13, 2014 at 8:24 am

It does seem to be pretty common to have out of country visitors taste Poutine when in Canada. Some love the Fries drenched in gravy with melted cheese curds on top and others just can’t deal with the decadence of it. Another classic and really good thing to share food wise are Beaver tails. Basically fried dough (in shape of a beaver tail), covered in cinnamon sugar.


5 Mindi August 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

Oh I almost gasped at the thought of Beaver Tails until I read your description. Sounds exactly like what they call “Elephant Ears” in the Pacific NW!


6 Sally from Little Hiccups August 13, 2014 at 11:39 am

I made sure to try Poutine when I was in Montreal last year and it was delicious. I was pregnant at the time and managed to scoff down a whole serving that was meant for two! I guess I was eating for two after all ;)

Chips & Gravy is pretty popular back home in Australia but the addition of the cheese curds makes it so much more delicious :)


7 Bambi August 13, 2014 at 8:25 am

I’ve never been to the US, but imagine things to be simply bigger as well than in good old Europe!
Thanks for sharing!

Love from Germany and something for your brain and soul:



8 sofija August 13, 2014 at 9:33 am

I moved here from Germany a long time ago, so I often have European visitors. Now that I live in the southwest all I really have to do to impress them is go for a drive. The vast open spaces with no people or houses in sight and the brown desert are just so different from Europe. My sister who loves coming here had a good laugh the first time I took her through a bank drive-through. “You are kidding me!” is all she could say, as in “you lazy Americans!”.


9 Sally from Little Hiccups August 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

I saw a drive through bank (or rather a drive up ATM) for the first time last week and I had to laugh. But then I thought about it and realised it’s not as crazy as it sounds. I mean, back home in Australia we have drive through liquor stores! They’re so common that the term “drive through” is generally accepted as meaning a liquor store. My home city in Australia also has drive through cigarette stores, drive through florists and a drive through bakery.
Compared to these things a drive through bank makes much more sense – especially when you have sleeping kids in the car.


10 Sarah August 14, 2014 at 4:08 am

Yes, I used to love the drive through for a sneaky coffee when the bubs were little…Not quite the same, but a pizza vending machine has just been installed in Sydney!


11 Megan M. August 13, 2014 at 9:34 am

Ha! When I saw the post title I assumed the cookies must have come from a bakery… I had no idea Chips Ahoy made those either! I’ll have to look for them on my next grocery trip. Did they notice the new Lays potato chip flavors? Cappucino? Wasabi Ginger?


12 Deborah August 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

When I visited Europe (England and Scotland) I was thrilled with how well things are preserved, such as sweet stone bridges. No matter that the road is narrow, the locals make do. Here in America, we just rip it down and replace it with a huge concrete monstrosity. That is why, when people come to visit, I show them the wooden covered bridges, old stone farmhouses and bank barns. (I live in PA, Pennsylvania German Country.) Not far from our house are Amish and Mennonite families who still use a horse and buggy as transportation.
I’m amazed at how people in Europe, for the most part, make do with smaller homes, and control sprawl, and wish that America would adopt some of those practices.


13 Amy August 13, 2014 at 10:37 am

We have a popular seaside amusement park in our town (Santa Cruz), but we usually try to steer visitors far clear of that and take them to “locals” beaches or to see the redwood trees and banana slugs in one of our fabulous state parks. It’s really the only place in the world you can see the beach, the trees, and the slugs in one place. So much of the typical touristy parts of our town are pretty seedy and not places locals even want to go. The best places to eat and shop are off the beaten path and we like to keep it that way!


14 Sally from Little Hiccups August 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

As a foreigner living in America I seem to have a knack for spotting the strangest foods in the supermarket or on a menu too. I guess the odd flavour combinations just jump out at me.

Did you know that Campbell’s make Hearty Cheeseburger Soup? Nope? Neither did any of my American friends until I posted a picture of it on facebook! Note – I did not buy said cheeseburger soup. The mere thought of such a concoction makes me gag!

I’m always surprised at just how many things come in peanut butter flavour here. Although I’m amazed I haven’t discovered peanut butter flavoured toothpaste yet! Speaking of toothpaste, back home in Australia it pretty much just comes in mint. We had to go through a lot of tubes of strawberry, apple, fruit salad and bubblegum flavoured toothpaste before we found one that my kids could handle when we first moved here. I still can’t use non-mint flavoured toothpaste – although I am kind of tempted to try the coconut oil like you!

I still can’t get over the combination of chicken and waffles either. That one sounds like something my kids would come up with. The good old “take two foods you like and put them together even if it doesn’t work” trick ;) It must taste good though otherwise there wouldn’t be fast food places dedicated to it.

I have to admit that on my first visit to an American supermarket I couldn’t help but buy a can of spray cheese for fun! Outside of America it’s pretty much seen as the epitome of crap American food. Going from my American friends’ reactions to my purchase I’m guessing it’s seen the same way here!

Despite the weird flavour combinations on offer here, I’ve actually been surprised at the lack of variety in America when it comes to flavours of things like chocolate, candy and chips. The candy/chocolate section in most Australian supermarkets takes up pretty much a whole aisle and there’s a huge amount of variety. The chip section takes up almost a whole aisle too. In comparison, these sections in my local supermarkets are pretty tiny. Then again, I do live in the Bay Area which may not be really representative of the rest of America ;)

Oh, and San Francisco… the sushirito is NOT a good idea! Sushi’s great but it really needs to be in little pieces not a gigantic roll the size of my forearm!


15 CeeBee August 14, 2014 at 12:37 am

I grew up in PA coal country which has a huge Dutch food influence. Chicken and waffles growing up was tender chicken covered in chicken gravy over a savory waffle. Needless to say I was quite surprised to be served friend chicken with waffles & syrup when I lived in the south.


16 Sally from Little Hiccups August 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

I can’t wait to hear of all the strange foods you discover in Sweden!
Mmm… dried reindeer heart ;)


17 Lisa T. August 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm

While visiting my daughter in Australia, she moved there from our home in Indiana, we discovered small, cinnamon and sugar dusted doughnuts being sold at a shopping mall kiosk as a snack. They are not eaten as a breakfast item there, only as a snack. Oh, well . . . they were delicious!


18 Sally from Little Hiccups August 13, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Donut holes!!


19 Natasha August 13, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Cute post. I love you donut time photo. I saw cappuccino flavored lays potato chips in the store yesterday!


20 Emily F August 14, 2014 at 10:21 am

My husband did the 1 pound Fuddrucker’s challenge with his college roommates for his bachelor party right before we got married. He had to eat the 1 pound burger, an order of chili cheese fries, a soda, and a gigantic ice cream sundae. He won a t-shirt for his manliness and got his picture on the wall. But I say, “GROSS!” :)

There isn’t much to do where we live so there is always “hiking” and “four wheeling” on the list when friends come.


21 ck August 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Very cute story. I had some young German guys visiting once and they had exactly 3 items on their bucket list: eating Kentucky’s Fried Chicken, watching David Letterman, and hearing a police siren. That was America for them. ;-)


22 Simone August 16, 2014 at 2:56 am

The one thing visitors to our place in Australia can never get over is the isolation and the vast distances.
We once had visitors who had to be talked out of going to Sydney for a weekend drive and didn’t believe us that it would take 5 days to drive there and 5 days back until we got out maps and a calculator


23 Sarah August 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm

I loved showing my German in-laws our massive washing machine. I think my sister-in-law actually gasped. We took our nephew,at his request, to McDonald’s. I was waiting for him to order like an American, but all he wanted was the 3 piece chicken mcnuggets. He couldn’t believe we don’t have that size.


24 Traci August 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I will happily try anything, but root beer flavored chips ahoy doesn’t necessarily intrigue me in a good way! ;]


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