Food Misnomers From Around The World!
Image Credit: Pistachios | Image Credit: Unsplash

Misunderstood food facts, food assumptions, and food myths are all around us. From the belief that French fries originated in France to the assumption that fortune cookies originated in China, these food misnomers from around the world can be confusing.

This article is here to clear up some of these food misnomers, some of which we’re also guilty of!

1.    Pistachios are actually a type of fruit. Similarly, cashews, almonds, and pistachios are not technically nuts but instead "drupes," fleshy fruits with a hard shell enclosing a seed. Acorns, chestnuts, and hazelnuts are some examples of nuts that are considered to be "real" nuts. The lone exception is peanuts, which are a legume.

2.    Watermelon and bananas are in the berry family, but strawberries are not! Strawberries are a blatant exception to the rule that berries can only have seeds on the inside.

3.    To put it simply, raspberries belong to the rose family. Some fruits are actually related to roses. The Rosaceae (fruit-bearing tree) family also includes the closely related strawberry, apple, pear, plum, cherry, apricot, and peach.

4.    Authentic honey is literally bee vomit." Hummingbirds and bees both drink nectar and store it in their "guts." It is then regurgitated by forager bees. Something to keep in mind the next time the honey trappers in your neighborhood try to sell you some "fresh" honey!

5.    Despite their name, figs are actually flowers, not fruits. Also, they're upside-down blossoms, which is even cooler. The edible fruit of fig trees begins as a flower that develops inside a pod.

6.    Almonds are actually the seeds of an almond fruit, not nuts! Truly nutty treats are tree-borne fruits that have dried, hardened, and encased a single seed. Keep this in mind the next time you grab a bag of mixed nuts: more often than not, you're actually snacking on a combination of seeds and legumes.

7.    Pineapples are unrelated to pine. The pineapple got its name from the first European explorers to see one and mistake it for a pinecone.

8.    Almost all of the wasabi sold in grocery stores is actually horseradish. The production of authentic wasabi is time-consuming and costly. Most commercially available "wasabi" is actually horseradish that has been dyed and 

9.    You can't call white chocolate "chocolate." White chocolate doesn't actually contain any chocolate, despite its misleading name. It's just a combination of sugar, milk, vanilla, lecithin, cocoa butter, and other 

10.    American cheese is not American. Most people associate processed cheese with the United States, but it was actually developed in Switzerland. In 1911, Waltz Gerber and Fritz Stettler came up with the idea to create a preservative that would allow the product to be stored for longer before being shipped overseas.

11.    The quality of the water has nothing to do with the expiration date printed on the bottle. While the water itself has no expiration date, the bottle it comes in does. After some time, plastic water bottles will begin to leach harmful substances into the water supply.

12.    Despite popular belief, French fries were actually invented in Belgium, not France. Legend has it that American soldiers in Belgium during World War I stumbled upon this tasty potato dish and dubbed them "French" fries because the spoken language in southern Belgium is French.

13.    Orange juice is one of the main ingredients in Mountain Dew, a widely consumed soft drink. The orange juice comes in third on the ingredient list, after carbonated water and high fructose corn syrup, despite the fact that the drink tastes like a lemon-lime soda. Furthermore, artificial citrus flavors like those found in Mountain Dew and even some flavors of Gatorade rely on brominated vegetable oil as a key ingredient, which acts as a stabilizer and is responsible for the slightly cloudy appearance of these drinks.

14.    In terms of quality and refinement, brown sugar is identical to white sugar. The only difference is that some of the molasses that is lost during the refining process is added back in. Brown sugar may have a few more minerals than white sugar, but it still isn't the "healthier" option.

15.    The origins of fortune cookies lie outside of China. Even though they're so commonly associated with China, fortune cookies actually originated on another continent. The cookie may have been invented in 1918 by David Jung, a Chinese immigrant who settled in Los Angeles and established the Hong Kong Noodle Company. Because he felt bad about the homeless people hanging around his store, he baked these cookies and gave them away for free.

16.    Tomatoes are classified as fruits rather than vegetables. According to botanists, fruit is the product of a flower's fertilized ovary. Tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, corn cobs, bean and pea pods, and their ilk are all fruits. In terms of their nutritional value and culinary versatility, however, tomatoes are classified as vegetables.

It's easy to assume that the foods we eat are what they seem to be, but this is rarely the case. These misunderstood food facts can be a great source of laughs, and they remind us to keep an open mind. You never know what hidden stories and histories might be lurking behind those ingredients!