9 American things that wouldn’t be American without immigrants

A lot of people may not know that many of the symbols that represent America, from architecture to food, actually come from immigrants and other cultures. Immigration has provided America an upper hand in economics, and they have brought many of our “all-American” items to us. Have you ever thought what your life would be like without many of the innovations immigrants have brought to us? The following is just a short list of the contributions immigrants have made to American culture.

Blue jeans

Blue jeans were invented in 1871 by Jacob Davis, a Latvian-Jewish tailor who emigrated to America in 1854, and Levi Strauss, who emigrated from Germany. They received a patent in 1873 for blue jeans, and later went on to create Levi’s jeans.  


Contrary to popular belief, hamburgers were created by a Danish man: Louis Lassen. Hamburgers are commonly associated with America, and American fast food, and he created the first hamburger in 1895, in New Haven, Connecticut, and sold them out of a small lunch wagon.


The first doughnut came to America in 1920, when Adolph Levitt, a Russian refugee, began to sell doughnuts from his bakery. Doughnuts began to boom in 1938 when the Salvation Army needed money during the Great Depression.  


The founder of Google, Sergey Brin, was born in the Soviet Union (Moscow, Russia) in 1973. He later moved to the United States, and became a computer scientist where he created the wonderful search engine we use on a daily basis.

Hot dogs

Hot dogs, another food commonly associated with America, is actually from Germany. Charles Feltman moved from Germany, to New York, at the age of 15, and opened a restaurant that sold sausages in a roll.


Modern basketball was created in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian. He invented basketball while teaching physical education. He came up with the game by having students shoot fruits into baskets that were hung onto the balcony at the school.  


The J. Heinz company, known best for their ketchup, is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was founded by Henry John Heinz, whose parents were German immigrants from Bavaria. They came to the United States in the early 1840s.


Even though cars are a global form of transportation, without Carl Benz, a German engineer, the first car would never have been made, or brought to America. Carl Benz also prompted Henry Ford to create an all-American car company that would be affordable to the middle class.

“God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” songs

A Siberian immigrant, Irving Berlin, wrote “God Bless America” at a summer camp in 1918. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by John Stafford Smith, a British composer. He wrote the song following the war of 1812 and it was adopted as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.

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