Home British Food and Drink Favourites You’ll Struggle to Find Abroad

British Food and Drink Favourites You’ll Struggle to Find Abroad

Posted by on November 12th, 2018.

If you’re moving abroad you may find that we British are not as well-known for our food as – say – the Italians. You might think then that it will be difficult for you to find some of your home comfort foods in other countries.

Don’t worry though, with the internet and international food stores you’ll be able to easily locate most of your favourite foods and drinks. In some countries however, there may be bans or changes to some of your favourite products, so you may want to bring some with you if you really feel you can’t live without them!

Not everything, however, will be available through specialist importers: here are some British foods and drinks you will NOT be able to find in various countries …

Forbidden Fruit

Many people in the UK grow up drinking blackcurrant cordials such as Ribena – a well-loved favourite of many children and adults. But while Ribena might be readily available in the UK, it becomes very hard to find if you move across the pond to the USA.

In the USA, blackcurrants seem to be widely unknown, with many Americans never having heard of them, let alone being familiar with the joys of Ribena. This is mostly down to a historic ban on the commercial growing of currants following a fungus introduced from Europe in the nineteenth century.

While the popularity of the fruit is on the up once again due to the ban being lifted, several state-wide prohibitions remain in place (Maine, Ohio and Massachusetts being a few examples) meaning you may find one of your favourite drinks hard to come by in some areas.

It’s Nice Jim, but Not as We Know It

While you might be able to get Cadbury’s chocolate in the USA, it is not the same stuff you know and love from back home. This is because the American company Hershey’s is the manufacturer of Cadbury’s chocolate over there. And it’s different.

In the UK the first ingredient in a classic Dairy Milk, for example, is milk, whereas in America – where Hershey’s has the license to make and sell all Cadbury products – the first ingredient on the label is sugar. While many will simply shrug, for some this important detail could make a big difference to the taste and texture of their favourite chocolate bars.

Ultimately, what this means is that if you are a huge fan of Cadbury’s chocolate, and are planning to move to the USA, you may want to fill your suitcase with Dairy Milk bars!

It’s Offal that Haggis is not available in America

It seems that a lot of popular British foodstuffs are unavailable or different in the USA and the Scottish favourite, haggis, is no exception.

If you’re a fan of this traditional Highland delicacy made from oatmeal, suet and offal and wrapped in an animal stomach, unfortunately you will be unable to get it in its true form in the United States. This is due to a 1971 ban on importing foods containing sheep lungs – a key ingredient of traditional haggis.

While you will still be able to find haggis in the USA, it will have been made there under US food safety regulations, so there will be no sheep lungs in it. Instead alternative ingredients are used, although to many this would not be deemed ‘real’ haggis.

So, given that it’s unlikely you’ll be washing down a plate of haggis with a glass of Ribena when Stateside, here are a few British things you will be able to find around the world that might make you feel at home:

Afternoon Tea, Anyone?

Something that is very stereotypically British is afternoon tea. While most of us don’t actually partake in this ritual, we still consume a lot of tea on a daily basis. But for those of you who like to take afternoon tea, you will be happy to know that you will be able to do this in Japan.

While there may be slight variations available to you, such as being offered different kinds of tea other than the traditional Ceylon or Darjeeling blends, you will still be able to reminisce about Britain with a cucumber sandwich, a small cake and perhaps even a scone.

Beyond the Irn Curtain

One of the more surprising British items you will be able to find abroad is Irn Bru, for this beloved Scottish beverage is surprisingly popular in Russia.

Sales began in Russia following the fall of the Iron Curtain (Irn Curtain?) and by 2002, according to the BBC, it had become the third best-selling soft drink there. Its popularity seems to be attributed to its similarity to a discontinued Soviet-era drink, and it remains popular to this day.

Another country where this particular beverage is popular is Canada, where the repeal in 2010 of a ban on caffeine in non-cola carbonated beverages saw Scotland’s sugary orange export rocket in popularity.

Haters Look Away Now

Whether you love it or you hate it, the sticky black yeast-based spread Marmite is something that is considered very British. Luckily for those of you on the ‘love’ side of the divide, after some considerable controversy Marmite is now available in both Canada and Denmark.

Previously the spread had been banned by both countries, with Denmark enacting a de facto ban on vitamin fortified foodstuffs such as Marmite in 2011, and Canada in 2014. Both bans have been lifted, making the product available in shops. While you will still be able to get your Marmite fix in Canada, it must be noted that it is now only ‘British made’ Marmite that is banned, although what the difference is between Canadian and British Marmite is a subject of some confusion.


So, while there are lots of examples of food and drink you will be unable to find around the world, there will be plenty more that are still on the menu. What favourites would you not be able to live without if you move overseas?

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