11 best junk foods in the USA

Regular readers of Bright Lights of America already know that I spend a fair whack of my time whinging about how terrible junk food in the US is. Namely the chocolate. I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy Hershey’s.

I may have misrepresented the array and quality of junk food on offer here, so it’s time to remedy that situation. I didn’t even mention them in my post about the best things in America! Some of these I’ve tried and some I’ve been too scared to give a go. You’ll see why shortly.


Peeps were first introduced to me at Easter time 2015. It took me a year to gather up the courage to try them out. They’re basically the king of sugary junk foods – you couldn’t cram more sugar in if you tried.

US Food-The Recipe Book!

Made of marshmallow and shaped into animals like chickens and rabbits, peeps are often fluorescent in colour and feature a coating of granulated sugar on the outside. Just for that added crunchy texture.

Mac n Cheese

The quintessential American junk food, I’ve been reading about mac n cheese in American novels for years! And I’m really glad that I only tasted it for the first time a few months ago because it’s addictive. Also I’m slightly lactose intolerant (is that even possible?).

Mac and Cheese, junk food

If you’re a little grossed out by over-the-top unhealthy foods, look away now.  Mr M refused to let me sample this delicacy out of a box, so he made me his family’s version of Mac n Cheese. With three different types of cheese. And some bacon. That stuff is deadly and delicious.

I’m limiting us to once a year.


Another form of American junk food so classic that they feature in all books with a camping scene. No camping trip is complete without building smores over the fire.

Once again, Mr M came to the rescue! They’re made from toasted marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers, with a piece of chocolate for good measure. I wonder if you could toast a peep and use that? Anyway, I highly recommend Ghirardelli chocolate for this exercise in gooey goodness.

Five Guys

Burger anyone? To be honest, the burgers here don’t seem to stack up to the ones at home for me. They need beetroot and pineapple and buns that aren’t sweet as lollies.

Five Guys junk food

I will make an exception for the Five Guys burger chain. Their burgers are pretty good, but I’m really there for the fries. They don’t quite stack up to O’Porto or Nando’s but they’re pretty darn good in any case. I will snack on them whenever I’m looking for a carb-hit.


When my colleagues heard that I didn’t know what It’s-It…’s were, they were mortified. I was directed straight to the company freezer for a taste test.

It's it junk food

It’s-It’s are slabs of ice cream, sandwiched between two biscuits (aka cookies), covered in chocolate. Apparently it’s a San Francisco tradition, started by George Whitney in 1928. So you’re learning history and enjoying a cool treat.

Delicious Triscuit crackers

I have to say it that way because my only reference for Triscuits comes from the movie Billy Madison. Please see this helpful YouTube clip for reference:

Anyway, it turns out that the movie’s accurate. Triscuit crackers are delicious and they kind of remind me of the Mini Wheats cereal. In looks, not taste. They taste like salty awesomeness and come highly recommended on my list of things to snack on while watching terrible movies on Netflix.

Ben & Jerry’s

You can get Ben & Jerry’s almost anywhere in the world now, but they still call the US home. The thing about Ben & Jerry’s is that I can never find my favourite flavours when I want them. They’re too popular, and there are heaps of flavours.

Ben and Jerry's, junk food

Also, they are dangerous. They come in pint-sized containers. I challenge you not to eat the whole thing in one sitting! You can’t do it, it’s impossible!

Pepperoni Pizza

I’m a veggie pizza girl from way back. Give me a slice with mushroom, capsicum (red pepper) and olives and I’m in heaven.

Pepperoni pizza, junk food

That was until I moved to San Francisco and I began adding pepperoni to my vegetarian pizza order. When I’m making my own pizza, it’s gotta have salami on it. When I’m ordering from the local pizza shop though, it’s got to be pepperoni (since salami doesn’t seem to be a pizza topper here.

Ghirardelli’s chocolate

An exception to the “no American chocolate” law of 2015. I stick by this law with military precision. If it’s American chocolate, or the American version of British chocolate (Cadbury’s I’m looking at you), I don’t want to know about it.

Ghirardelli’s is normal chocolate though. It doesn’t have a strange after-taste and doesn’t seem like it’s sweetened with corn syrup – my arch nemesis additive.

Flaming hot Cheetos

These chips are the real deal junk food. Not only are they not especially good for you nutrition wise, they’re also burning holes in kids stomach’s.

Flaming Hot Cheetos, junk food

They’re banned in some schools and have sent kids and adults (I’m looking at you Lisa) to the emergency room with fancy conditions like peptic ulcers, erosion and inflammation of the stomach lining. No I haven’t tried them. Nor will I. Good day sir!

Girl Scout Cookies

Those sweet girls camped outside of grocery shops for a couple of weekends each year are purveyors of delicious sugary treats.

Girl Scout Cookies, junk food

Girl Scout Cookies. How can you resist? It’s for a good cause after all! Little Michelle is learning camp survival skills (I imagine) and how to tie important knots so that when she goes to college she can properly secure that load of stuff she’s moving.

My fav’s are the choc mint ones. But only because the remind me of Australian biscuits called Mint Slice. *drools*

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Now it’s your turn! What are your favourite American snacks and junk food?

33 thoughts on “11 best junk foods in the USA

  1. LOL, as an American, I loved this post and to hear about US foods from an outside perspective. I’m absolutely with you on the fact that chocolate from anywhere is better than US chocolate. I do love a s’more, but I don’t love to camp… so I rarely eat that goodness. Thin Mints are SO GOOD. Have you ever put them in the freezer? That’s the best way to eat them. I was a Girl Scout and a top cookie seller (that has no camping skills…hmmm… maybe I missed out on s’mores). Five Guys is one of my favorite burgers, too. I also like Smashburger, but I’m pretty sure that I like the sweet potato fries more.

    1. You’re blowing my mind Sara. You were a girl scout but you don’t have camping skills? So you don’t eat smores? You need a beach bonfire or a charcoal grill in your backyard! Although I guess not everyone has a backyard.
      People at work tease me because of my stance on US chocolate. They say I’m too much of a chocolate snob.
      Yes! Thin Mints, that’s what they’re called! I haven’t tried them from the freezer, but it’s been suggested to me. They don’t last that long at my place.

    1. Hahahaha, some of them are better than others Indranil. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the Peeps unless you want a lot of cavities!

  2. Yuk yuk yuk yuk. Peeps are the most disgusting things. There is a reason they’re always Easter’s leftovers and dominating the clearance aisle. S’mores are just not that great either. I’m all for a toasted marshmallow but the whole texture of marshmallow, melted choc and graham crackers is just sickly and awful. Mac ‘n Cheese out of a box is putrid. Straight up vile. I’ll go with your homemade stuff but anything with fake cheese is vomit worthy – this includes cheese in a can and Velveeta. Props to Five Guys. I’ll give you that. They’re good. Much like mini wheat’s, Triskets are not tasty. Their texture is odd. Ben and Jerry’s, I can happily agree with that. Although I usually don’t buy it because those little pints don’t go far. There is nothing about a Pepperoni pizza that will ever compare to good Genoa salami. Tastes like oily cardboard. Hot cheers and Takis. Did you know that you can set them on fire if you light them? Great for campfire kindling in a pinch. Girl Scout Cookies definitely have an edge on most cookies (especially oreos which are absolutely disgusting) but at 4.99 a box I can never seem to justify the cost. I’ve straight gone off chocolate here. That is unless I go to world market and buy a violet crumble or something. Not really in agreeance with most of this list!!!

    1. Oh Vee, you’re not having a good time with the food, are you? I can agree that my first Peep was also my last Peep. But I’m standing my ground on S’mores. They are delicious and I must have a higher threshold for sweetness than you do!
      I’ve never tried Mac ‘n Cheese out of a box. I’ve been warned that it’s awful. The homemade stuff is the best though. I agree with you about cheese in a can and Velveeta. I wouldn’t go near those if they were the last edible foodstuffs on the planet.
      And, like I said, salami on pizza is the best! But in a pinch, I’ll take Pepperoni.
      It’s cool, I like hearing other people’s opinions and thoughts, thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Oh, America. As a Canadian, I always get overwhelmed in American grocery stores – there’s just aisle after aisle after aisle of junk food! How can you even choose?!?! I just get paralyzed with all those choices!! 😉

    1. I went in yesterday and a can caught my eye in one of the aisles so I stopped for a closer look. It was brown bread. In a can. With raisins in it. WTAF?

  4. What a fun idea for a post. I am not a fan of Five Guys burgers (way too greasy for me) but I love the fries. And sometimes I’m guilty of eating s’mores at home by melting the marshmallow and chocolate on a graham cracker in the microwave… don’t judge. But I will never eat Peeps ever again. I had them once and yuck! Funny story about mac n’ cheese- I usually never eat the box kind because I prefer it homemade. But when I was pregnant with my first child, Kraft mac n’ cheese was one of the only things that I ate that stayed down. So I ate it a lot. But now, even the thought of eating the box kind makes me want to throw up.

    1. Sometimes you have to play to your strengths Allison, and eating is definitely one of mine 😉
      Oooh, great idea, I’m going to try this microwave s’mores idea! I never judge when it comes to food! How funny! I’ve been told to stay away from the box mac n’ cheese because it’s awful. You crave some weird things when you’re pregnant though!

  5. I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve only tried two of these, the Ghiradelli chocolates and the Pepperoni Pizza. It seems like I’ll have my work cut out for me when I come to the states later this year 🙂

  6. Wowsers, so much sugar!! 🙂 I’ve heard a lot about Smores in books I’ve read in the past. They look…interesting!

    1. I didn’t know that they had Five Guys in London! You live, you learn. It’s not so busy here, at least not my local one. I only really go once in a blue moon though.

  7. Oh mac & cheese, man do I love mac & cheese. I reckon why day I’m going to write a recipe book called mad about the mac with just mac & cheese. As an aside, those peeps look like diabetes in a duck!…or is it a chicken?

    1. I think those Peeps are chickens. But they have different animals like rabbits as well.
      OMG, you NEED to write that cookbook JO! I will be your first customer 😀

  8. I do think the USA is the leader in junk food and also serving sizes. I’ve never seen pizza slices so big!!! It took me a while to understand what Smores were and I think there are recipes coming into Australia now. Not sure I could eat those Peeps too much sugar for me! Have a great week!

    1. Yep, one Peep was more than enough for me. The serving sizes do tend to be huge. I got pasta at a restaurant a few weeks ago and couldn’t even finish half of it, the portion size was insane!

  9. Oh. Em. Gee. You are in the country of junk foods..and haven’t you done well ‘resisting’ some. I’ve heard about s’mores as if they are gods gift…and mac n cheese but to be honest, they don’t appeal. However, you never know till you give it a go, right?? Thanks for sharing…amazing!!
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 20/52. Next week “How I learn best.”

    1. I am in the country of AISLES of junk food. It’s everywhere to be honest. But since a lot of it is ultra-sweet, I don’t really have to work hard to resist. I am a fan of S’mores, I think mostly because when you’re camping and hiking you’re always hungry so anything tastes awesome. I was very, very against the idea of Mac n Cheese as well but Mr M brought me around with the homemade version.

  10. Got to love American food. I love their pizzas. Mr 16 loves the fake mac and cheese. More than my lovingly-made made recipe. I love that you get a salad with almost everymeal, that you are automatically given water and coffee refill. The food I have loved most everytime I have been there were cinnabuns. Addictive.

    1. Ooh cinnabuns! They are amazing. But too sweet for me to finish a whole one. Gotta pace myself 😉
      Mr 16 seems to be outnumbered by a few people who’ve read this post and informed me that fake mac ‘n cheese is awful.
      The salad part is good actually, I don’t eat out too much (because SF is expensive) but I don’t mind a salad with my meal at all!

  11. I don’t like Peeps, but I do love S’mores!! I make them at home but have to find alternatives to the Graham cracker (which is hard). As for my fave US junk food … it’s Arby’s Curly Fries with the cheddar dipping sauce along with a sweetened iced tea. Oh, and of course NY style pepperoni pizza. That’s a given. When the slices are so big you need two hands. Yes please!

  12. My boys would go nuts over most of this list. They love pepperoni pizza and mac n’ cheese. I like the look of those smores an it’s it. I’ve never tried Ben & Jerry’s because it’s so expensive here, but it does sound amazing. Sad that their chocolate sucks, though… Hmmm, maybe I need to live there to end my chocolate addiction?!

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