So when does food become an icon?

We all have favourite foods, that should be just so. My aunt makes the most incredible pavalovas and I cannot help but judge every one by that standard – it is crisp on the outside and chewy inside – very few come close. I can not eat homemade biscuits without comparing them in my head to those my Nan always had in her kitchen when we visited.

We are all the same and have favourite foods, but that is just personal likes and preferences. When does a food become an icon to the whole community? When does a food go from just being a personal favourite to being a icon?

The hot dog is a great example. At it’s heart is simply a sausage placed into a long bread roll. It came about around 100 years ago and it’s birthplace is probably around New York.

I came across a slideshow recently at The Daily Meal that shows that the hot dog is now so much more than that. The slideshow shows what they think are the top 35 hot dogs in America. The things they do to the sausgae, bun and stuff that go on them is nothing short of amazing. The people who made and sold the original hot dogs would have some difficulty in recognising them now.

It has become an icon. Not just in it’s home in the US but around the world. There would be few people now who have not had one and have a certain way they like them.

So how did a simple food become a key part of the lives of many people? All countries have foods that have taken the same journey; dahl in India can be fantastic or not, baklava can be just right or not sweet enough, Chips can be something to go back for or not, falafel can be perfect or not, and on it goes.

Does a food become an icon because so many people just want it or is it because it is convenient or is it because it is easy to get hold of or is it because it is just special or is it because of it’s history?

I don’t know if there is a single answer to why some foods become a part of the pattern of our lives and part of the thing that is our country? It would be a great project for someone to do as a PhD.

Regardless of why a food becomes an icon, it is just nice to know they are there and that as humans we will always be improving and adding to them.

Can you think of any foods that are icons in your country? If so, let me know on my Facebook page.

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