The Most-Loved American Foods You Won’t Find Abroad

Wait, why did nobody tell us how hard it would be to find peanut butter in Europe? Of all the issues that we face studying abroad, not being able to find your most basic food can be the ultimate downer. Here are 15 foods you’re bound to miss.

American Cheese

Who knows how they actually make this “cheese,” but it makes the best grilled cheese sandwich and cheese dip. Sure brie tastes nice, but after a long night out you’ll be wanting some gold ol’ American cheese. It just tastes like home.

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Peanut Butter

For some reason, the rest of the world has yet to embrace the beautiful, creamy texture of peanut butter. While it is not impossible to find, expect this trip for peanut butter to last a few hours. Maybe try some almond butter?

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American-Mexican Food

It might be a result of proximity, but if you’re anywhere in Europe, Asia, or Africa good luck finding any American-Mexican food. Especially good Mexican food. Gone are the days of fresh guacamole and salsa and endless plates of sizzling fajitas. Unless, of course, you’re studying abroad in Mexico and get the real, not out of a box, stuff.

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Sweet Tea

When it’s hot out, there is nothing like a nice long cup of ice tea to get you back up and running. Sure you can find plenty of fantastic hot tea options while abroad, but your options when it comes to ice tea are fairly limited to a few mini bottles at the local 7-eleven.

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Ranch

Whether it’s with pizza, lettuce, or fries, America loves ranch. It’s no surprise a lot of study abroad students miss it while traveling. There really is no replacement, our advice don’t be fooled into thinking what is labeled as “ranch” is actually ranch, it is NOT.

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Cereal

You can find cereal, you can probably find cheerios, but best of luck if you’re trying to find “Froot Loops”, “Cap’n Crunch” or “Lucky Charms”. Variety is limited, hence why the Cereal Cafe exists and every study abroad student that passes through London has to make a stop there.

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Lunchables

You don’t think you’re going to miss this, but let’s be honest, at some point every semester you’ve at least considered buying Lunchables as a snack. The idea of not having that option while abroad is probably what hurts more than actually not buying Lunchables.

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BBQ

Only in America do you find watermelon-carton overflowing with barbecue sauce at the grocery store. Seriously, it’s so big we can dive into it. We love barbecue and there are no good replacements for a mouth-watering slab of baby back ribs.

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Snack Cakes

There are all kinds of new dessert snacks that you will fall in love with while being abroad. But there will always be the 4th grader in you that secretly craves Zebra Cakes and Rainbow Brownies.

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Pop Tarts

Sugary, convenient and perfect for on-the-go mornings Pop Tarts are an American staple that you will not find abroad. You could try to replace it with fresh bakery goods or a pack of belvita cookies, but we all know it’s just not the same.

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Bagels

Also another great on the go food but bagels are hard to come by in the rest of the world. Replacement options are not limited though and include items like baguettes, English muffins, and warm, buttery scones.

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Cheetos

Would it be weird if I considered packing an extra suitcase filled with Cheetos? The addiction is real. Though not impossible to find, there are a lot of “meh” knockoff versions of our beloved Cheetos. PS: If you’re looking for Flaming Hot Cheetos, you’re out of luck.

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Diet Soda

Diet soda options are quite limited abroad, this can be particularly disappointing for Diet Coke “addicts”. Now if they could make a Mio type version of diet soda flavors to be mixed with club soda this would never be an issue. Someone call Coke and suggest this?

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Pretzels

This might not be your favorite snack back in the States and it will exist in some study abroad locations, but we still missed this pantry staple. Maybe it was all the endless dips associated with pretzels that we missed, or maybe you were one of the lucky kids that grew up eating spicy pretzels that were drizzled in butter. Regardless at some point during your time abroad you are bound to miss them.

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Macaroni & Cheese

Be kind to yourself and please, please, please pack a weeks worth of single pack mac and cheese. It will work wonders for curing bouts of homesickness and it will not take up much space. Trust us, this is the one item that you will absolutely crave and maybe you can find mac and cheese in some locations but is it really worth the risk?

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If you know you absolutely cannot live without these foods, before zipping up your suitcase try and squish in what you can. And for food items like BBQ and Mexican, that aren’t so 747 friendly take some time and put some thought into what you want your last meals to be. But most importantly as much as you’ll miss these foods while being abroad embrace living in a new country and make sure to explore foods that are new and different. who knows what you’ll fall in “food love” with. 

Michelle Xie

Contributor, Indiana University Major: Business Economics, Public Policy, Psychology Her heart belongs to: Flowers, the art of adventuring, dancing the night away. Take her away to: ITALY. I love Capri and Rome most but I would go about anywhere in Italy.

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