All-American Food For the Fourth of July

July 4 is a totally picnic kind of day.

According to CNN/Money, Americans are 540% more likely to consume potato salad on July 4 than on a more ‘typical’ day.

How much more likely are you to eat these traditionally “American” foods on Independence Day?

Baked beans: 357% more likely to eat on July 4 than any other day.

Baked beans are a Native American creation, which was traditionally cooked in clay pots, cooked over hot coals, and flavored with maple syrup and bear fat. Early European settlers adapted the recipe with molasses and pork fat. We’d like to suggest our own (non-ursine) spin on baked beans. This recipe is vegan, but can be jazzed up with a little tasty pork if you wish.

Hot dogs: 210% more likely to eat on July 4 than any other day.

It is estimated that 150 million hot dogs will be eaten this year on the Fourth of July, most of them consumed among the 74 million people who will be grilling out on this day.

Care to visualize 150 million hot dogs? That’s enough hot dogs to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times.

Hot dogs not quite your idea of a great main dish? Check out our growing list of grilling recipes, and flip back through our marinade and grilling blog posts from the last two months.

Ice cream sodas and floats: 200% more likely to eat on July 4.

Americans will spend $111 million on popsicles alone (not counting ice cream sodas, for which I couldn’t find holiday spending statistics). Coincidentally, we also will spend this same amount on charcoal for the grill this holiday.

Be sure to keep your charcoal and popsicles separate. Like drinking and driving, the two do not mix. Here’s Chef Amy’s recipe for refreshing Strawberry Balsamic Pops, and my recipe for a simple Vanilla Milkshake.

Pickles: 167% more likely to eat on July 4.

Sure, you can buy storebought, but why not make your own crisp, tart, spicy pickles with your latest haul from the garden or Farmers’ Market? Try our easy Spicy Jalapeno Pickles, or make up your own recipe using our Pickling Spice Blend.

Cole slaw: 150% more likely to eat on July 4.

Cabbage, the main ingredient in cole slaw, is great stuff. It’s inexpensive. One head of cabbage makes a huge batch of slaw. It’s packed with all kinds of nutrients that you’re supposed to have – everything from calcium to riboflavin, from Vitamin C to Vitamin K. We all grew up eating traditional green cabbage slaw with a heavy mayonnaise dressing. For something new, try this colorful Asian Cole Slaw made with purple (red) cabbage, radishes and carrots, with a Sesame oil-cilantro dressing.

Macaroni and other pasta salads: 150% more likely to eat on July 4.

Pasta salad: It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s filling. And, using our recipe for Pasta Salad With Porcini Olive Oil, it’s also fancy. Oh! And it makes wonderful use of the bounty of the garden (or the CSA share, or the Farmers’ Market).

What’s Cooler Than Being Cool? Ice. Cold. (Beer). The Brewers’ Association reports that Americans consume 40% more beer in July than during the average month during the balance of the year.

68 million cases of beer are sold for the Independence Day holiday. It is probably no coincidence to learn that July is American Beer Month.  Or to learn that most people who are injured by fireworks get hurt on July 4 (duh).

As you practice moderation in your beer drinking (and fireworks-shooting, please), remember a great use for leftover beer is Beer-Simmered Grilled Sausages. Serve with snacks and Beer and Cheese Dip.

And – please! – invite me to join you!

Finally, even iconic Uncle Sam has a food-related origin. Samuel Wilson was a meat packer who provided food for U.S. soldiers in the early 1800′s. He stamped the initials U.S. on his packaged products and some soldiers began to joke that it stood for Uncle Sam, giving way to the symbolic Uncle Sam of the United States government.

Have a safe, fun-filled, Happy Fourth of July!

Photo credit: “Kindergarten Class, Bartow, Florida” (1932), on Flickr