I live in the Netherlands. Here's what the 'American' section of the grocery store is actually like.

I live in the Netherlands. Here's what the 'American' section of the grocery store is actually like.
  • I went to the foreign-foods section of my Dutch grocery store to see "American" food for sale.

  • I was surprised to find bottled milkshakes flavored like American candy bars and strawberry Fluff.

  • Products like Crisco shortening and mac and cheese were similar to what I could find in the US.

When I moved from the US to the Netherlands five years ago, the grocery store was an adjustment.

Some ingredients I used to buy, like chocolate chips, aren't available here. But it's possible to find some American ingredients and snacks in the foreign-food aisle of a Dutch grocery store.

Here are a few of the foods in my local grocery store's "American" section:

Candy bars might come as a bottled shake

Candy bar-flavored milkshakes
Candy bar-flavored milkshakes

I was most surprised to see candy-bar milkshakes.Sara Wegman

One of the first things I noticed was bottled shakes flavored with Twix, M&M's, and Mars bars.

I've never seen these in the US before, and it looks like they may have debuted in 2015. The packaging says that they're "suitable for vegetarians" and contain "no added sugars," which makes them suspicious to me.

The pancake mix is labeled 'All-American'

Boxed pancake mix
Pancake mix was readily available.Sara Wegman

Pancakes are a common food in the Netherlands, but they're more similar to French crepes rather than fluffy American pancakes.

Multiple colleagues have asked me if the "tall" or "puffy" pancakes they see on American TV shows are a real part of our cuisine, so I found it funny to see this "All-American" mix on sale.

Boxed mac and cheese made the cut

Boxed mac and cheese
Mac and cheese is a famously "American" dish.Sara Wegman

Many Europeans also think of macaroni and cheese as an "American" dish.

I've never seen the brand, Mississippi Belle, at an American grocery store, but it was still nice to have a reminder of home.

I was happy to see individually-wrapped packages of microwave popcorn

Individually-wrapped microwave popcorn
The microwave popcorn was individually-wrapped.Sara Wegman

These differed from the boxed sets I was used to in the US, but I still bought a few bags — the flavor was just like what I remembered from the US.

Surprisingly, there was Crisco vegetable shortening 

Crisco vegetable shortening
Crisco shortening is an essential for American baking.Sara Wegman

Some Dutch people view baking as an American pastime. Though there are traditional Dutch baked goods, many American ingredients are only available by ordering from an international store.

I've never come across chocolate chips in the Netherlands, so seeing vegetable shortening was a big surprise.

You can also buy ShopRite's generic baking soda

Baking soda on shelf
The store also sold baking soda in a different part of the store.Sara Wegman

For any other baking needs, ShopRite-brand baking soda was stocked in this aisle.

I was surprised to see baking soda in the American section, especially since it's a common Dutch ingredient and I had seen Arm & Hammer's products in this same store three aisles over.

The 'newest' American food was strawberry-flavored marshmallow Fluff

Strawberry-marshmallow fluff
I had never seen strawberry-marshmallow Fluff before.Sara Wegman

Another surprising product was the large jars of strawberry-marshmallow Fluff, which I've never come across at an American grocery store.

When I looked it up, it seems Fluff only began selling this product in 2020.

Spicy cheese curls are also available

Jalapeno cheese curls
A couple of the cheese crisp flavors were spicy.Sara Wegman

Another discovery was the Herr's cheese puffs on the bottom shelf.

These were the only baked snacks in the American section, and two of the flavors were spicy: jalapeño cheese and Carolina reaper.

You can buy some unique Hershey's products

Hershey's and Reese's candy
I also came across some Hershey's products.Sara Wegman

The store was stocked up on two types of Hershey's cookies 'n' creme candy bars and even bags of Reese's dipped pretzels.

The bars cost 1.53 euros, which is equivalent to about $1.72 USD.

Overall, the American-food aisle surprised me

Although most of these foods are available in some form in the US, I can't say that any of them are brands I know well or even foods that feel typically "American" for me.

That said, it's still nice to have some taste of home here in the Netherlands — even if I'll have to wait on chocolate chips.

Continue reading the series: I live in the UK. Here's what the 'American' section of the grocery store is actually like.

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