How to Party Like a Patriot
Here’s a fun fact we’re willing to bet 99% of people would be stunned to hear: The largest sector of the American economy is—wait for it—manufacturing. It’s true, and it’s not even close: Manufacturing pretty much doubles its nearest competitors in the US economy in terms of total output.
Surprising, right? At a recent Supercall happy hour, that news would have spilled multiple drinks had they been in traditional cocktail glasses instead of the liquid-saving coupes commonly used around here. It also led to another conversation: What if you tried to throw a party using only materials that were made in America? That means not only the food and the drink but also all of the equipment, from barware and coolers to the glassware, kitchenware, and the charcoal grill. Could it be done?
After some intensive R & D, it was established beyond a doubt that not only could it be done, it could also be done without breaking the bank. We created a series of four complete menus, each with a theme, to guide you through multiple party-planning possibilities, but here, you’ll find a cheat sheet listing the dozens of items we found—from mains and sides to desserts, cocktails and goods—that are bona fide made-in-America options. You can mix and match the almost endless array to create your own signature patriotic party.
• Pot roast
• Hamburgers /Cheeseburgers—Depending on which story you believe, the hamburger was invented in Hamburg, Germany, or New Haven, CT, or Seymour, WI, or Tulsa, OK, or Hamburg, NY. Doesn’t matter though, because whoever invented it, there’s absolutely no doubt that America perfected it and owns it. Would you even eat a hamburger from somewhere else? Please.
• Hot dogs
• Tetrazzini—Tetrazzini might sound Italian, but no one who’s ever laid eyes on this cheese-topped casserole would doubt that it is American. It was named after an Italian, though—an opera star named Luisa Tetrazzini, who lived for a time at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, the possible site of Tetrazzini’s invention.
• Turducken—This Island of Dr. Moreau mashup of turkey, duck, and chicken was invented in Louisiana.
• Scrapple—The Pennsylvania Dutch call it Pannhaas, or “pan rabbit,” even though it’s typically made of pork scraps, combined with cornmeal and flour, and formed into a sliceable loaf.
• Spam—Did you know that Spam was part of the Greatest Generation? It’s true: the canned precooked meat product was a staple for Allied troops in Europe during World War II, and it’s popular over there, too, as a result. How popular? Spam sold its seven billionth can in 2007.
• Burgoo—No two burgoos are alike: this improvised variation on a traditional Irish or Mulligan stew is big in Kentucky and Illinois.
• Buffalo wings
• Barbecue—You could teach a college course on barbecue (and at South Carolina’s Wofford College, they do)—its origins, its definitions and many variations, even its proper spelling. But wherever it came from, it most definitely flourished the most in America (with Korea a solid runner-up). And by barbecue we of course mean low-and-slow cooking, not chucking burgers and dogs on the grill (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
• Chicken nuggets
• Sloppy Joes
• Po’ boys
• Cheesesteak—Philly cheesesteak institutions Pat’s and Geno’s may be fierce rivals, but at the end of the day, they’re both American.
• Chicken and waffles
• Frito pie
• Tater Tots—It’s possible that America owns the French Fry at this point (though Belgium and France would object), but it’s indisputable that America invented the Tater Tot, that cylindrical deep-fried riff on the fry. It’s actually a trademarked term of a US company. Also: delicious.
• Cobb Salad—Curb Your Enthusiasm once did a hilarious episode about a dispute over the invention of the Cobb Salad, and indeed there are at least three origin stories for it. But they all place the bacon and bleu cheese creation in California, USA.
• Biscuits and gravy
• Potato skins
You could make a pretty good case that the cocktail itself is an American invention, and there's an almost endless supply of tipples that were born and bred in the US. The selection below favors easy-to-make, unpretentious concoctions alongside a few undeniable classics.
• Bloody Mary—First mixed together by an American bartender at Harry’s New York Bar, this drink is definitely an American classic—even if Harry’s New York Bar is located in … Paris.
• Cape Codder—There aren’t a lot of fruits native to the US, but the cranberry is one of them. Combine it with the world’s best-selling vodka (also made in the US) and—boom—you have an easy-to-make, All-American cocktail that’s perfect for summer and terrific all year round.
• Cosmopolitan—There are no fewer than seven competing claims for the invention of this classic vodka cocktail—each one of them based in the US. It also contains All-American cranberry juice.
• Manhattan—Traditionally made with quintessentially American rye whiskey, the Manhattan belongs on cocktailing’s Mount Rushmore.
• Martini—Whether it was invented in San Francisco as a variation on the local classic the Martinez, or at New York's famous Knickerbocker Hotel, the Martini is both indisputably American and a stone-cold classic. (Psst: It's also perfectly acceptable to make it with vodka, despite what you may hear from waxed-mustache, suspenders-wearing types.)
• Mint Julep—Kentucky Derby Day is a grand American tradition that wouldn’t be complete without this, its signature cocktail.
• Moscow Mule—This rejuvenated classic cocktail was created, like so many other American classics, in Hollywood. Despite the name.
• Screwdriver—American roughnecks stationed on Middle East oil rigs may have invented this simple compound of OJ and vodka—and stirred it with screwdrivers. Or it may have been US fighter pilots in World War II. Either way, one of the very first vodka cocktails has a gnarly, All-American origin story.
Pies have been around for centuries; the ancient Greeks and Romans feasted on meat and seafood pies, and there are references to sweet pies made of apple and pumpkin from the 16th century. And sure, the English still own the meat pie category. But in the modern world, sweet pies are the US's domain—whether you're talking pecan (a nut native to the southcentral and southeastern US) or pumpkin (native to North America), or, of course, apple (which has its own red, white, and blue saying). Beyond the iconic spherical treats, there's a roster of uniquely American desserts, from the Oreo to the Maple Bacon donut, also known as The Elvis.
• Key Lime Pie
• Apple Pie
• Cherry Pie
• Lemon Meringue Pie
• Pumpkin Pie
• Pecan Pie
• Chocolate chip cookies—Invented in 1938 by Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Wakefield, MA.
• Banana Split—The Banana Split has been going strong since 1904, when it was invented by a young apprentice pharmacist named David Strickler, in Latrobe, PA.
• Ice cream cake
• Maple bacon donut—aka “The Elvis”
Goods, Barware, Kitchenware, Party favors, etc:
• Weber grill—These icons of backyard good times are still made in Palatine, IL
• KitchenAid Mixer—’Merican made since 1919.
• Vitamix blender
• Pyrex cookware
• Igloo Coolers—The pride of Waller County, Texas, will keep your party ingredients cool, crisp and ready to go.
• Liberty Tabletop Flatware—This is the only flatware made in the USA.
• Slinky—This ingenious and inexpensive party favor is manufactured in Plymouth, MI.
• Gibson guitar—Hand any musically inclined guests one of these axes—made in either Tennessee or Montana—to entertain the group.
• Norton glasses and barware