History of ethnic foods in the US

December 13, 2013

A review paper in the January 2014 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) reveals some interesting statistics about the history of the following popular ethnic foods in the United States.


  • In 1930s, Mexican immigrants were a small minority and Mexican cuisine was a minority's
  • Today, it is the largest segment of the ethnic foods market in the U.S.
  • Ground beef tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tostadas and beans are popular Mexican foods among non-Hispanic Americans
  • Chili powder was first imported from Mexico to San Antonio, Texas in 1943
  • There are about 7,102 Mexican restaurants across the country


  • The number of Italian restaurants in the 10 most popular cities is around 16,783; this number is higher than Mexican and Chinese
  • Around 10,000 Italian restaurants were established in New York City by the 1930's, and most of these restaurants were simple and undecorated
  • Italian dishes became popular in the U.S. after the 1970s


  • There are more than 43 thousand Chinese restaurants in the U.S.—more than any other domestic fast food restaurant
  • U.S. Chinese cuisine differs from the original because "Americanized" Chinese food is usually less spicy than the authentic recipes, has higher levels of monosodium glutamate (MSG) to enhance flavor and involves more deep frying
  • The first Chinese restaurant opened in San Francisco in 1849


  • There are approximately 9,000 Japanese restaurants in the United States
  • Sushi bars began to appear in 1957
  • Entrepreneurial chefs contributed to the popularization of sushi in Los Angeles
  • Japanese food became much more popular in the early 1980s

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety will publish soon.

Explore further: Yelp to add restaurants' health-inspection grades

Related Stories

Recommended for you

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.