Like it or not, Americans are trendsetters.
It’s one of the benefits (or drawbacks, depending on your point of view) of being a leading economy. When something gets popular in the United States, it quickly becomes popular elsewhere, and while some trends don’t take off—we’re looking at you, POGs—most do.
But some cultures take American food, fashion, and leisure trends to the next level. In some cases, it’s a bit disturbing. We’re talking about how…
1. Europeans love red Solo cups.
Many Europeans seek out red Solo cups for American-themed parties, driving up the price of the cheap plastic cups in some parts of the continent.
This is because every American film that features partying tends to include a few Solo cups in the key scenes. Naturally, European teens want to get in on the fun—and they know that their drinks wouldn’t quite taste the same if served in higher quality drinkware.
2. Spam is huge in Guam.
No, not literally—the cans are the normal size. However, they’re extremely popular.
Why? United States forces stationed in Guam brought Spam with them since canned meat was the most palatable option for serving large American appetites. Guam’s cuisine was changed forever, and many locals have dozens of recipes that rely on Spam.
3. Myanmar is really into “Angry Birds.”
Back in the early days of the iPhone, Angry Birds became incredibly popular in the United States before gradually fizzling away. Sure, it’s still a major franchise, but the game—which features green pigs and an iconic angry cardinal—isn’t really big news.
That might be due to the sudden, fast spread of cell phones in the country; most Burmese households have never had landlines, so the quick emergence of smartphones probably seems a bit overwhelming. Angry Birds, therefore, is sort of a sign of the times, an iconic symbol of the changing culture.
Plus, they’re really cute.
4. Russia can’t get enough of Adidas tracksuits.
To be fair, Adidas is not an American company; it was founded in Germany, where it remains. However, Adidas tracksuits were certainly popularized in the United States, thanks in no small part to Run DMC, arguably the most famous rap group of the ’80s (and the minds behind the hit “My Adidas”).
But Russia really, really loves Adidas tracksuits. Why? Well, there’s a criminal subculture called
5. Japan loves KitKat bars.
Americans have one flavor of KitKat bar, and until you read this sentence, you probably never questioned that.
But in Japan, KitKat bars are a collectible craze, available in dozens of strange flavors. You can pick up a fruit parfait KitKat, a baked potato KitKat, or a wasabi KitKat, and you’ll be in good company; KitKat is the most popular candy in Japan, according to AdAge.