May 12, 2020

The Origin of Funky Food Names

While perusing through a menu at a restaurant, have you ever come across a food name that made you wonder why it was called that? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are plenty of food names, many of them common, that have interesting or not well-known origins. Check out a few of them!

French Fries

Many countries throughout the world consume what Americans call “French fries”, but they aren’t actually French. According to National Geographic, fries may have originated from Belgium. It’s said that Belgium villagers along a river in the Meuse valley would fry fish in the summertime but in the winter, when the river was frozen, they would cut up potatoes and cook them in the same way that they would fry their fish. During WWI, American soldiers supposedly dubbed the fried potato sticks as “French fries” as many of the southern Belgium people spoke French. While other countries enjoy fries as much as Americans do, they’re often referred to as different names, such as ‘chips’ in England and ‘frites’ in France.

Pound Cake

If you’re trying to stay healthy, pound cake is not for you. This tasty treat gets its moniker from the fact that to make it, you need a pound of each ingredient — butter, flour, eggs, and sugar! No wonder it’s so delicious.


We all love nachos but where did they get their unique name? According to Sticky Branding, the dish was born one night in 1943 when a group of women stopped into Victory Club, hoping to get something to eat before realizing that the restaurant was closed. Feeling bad for the hungry women, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, the maître d’ of the restaurant, decided to make them something out of whatever he had on hand. He fried up some tortillas, covered them with cheese and sliced jalapenos and called them Nachos Especiales. The women loved them and they were soon a hit. Not long after, the name was shortened to just nachos.

Cobb Salad

This iconic salad was created in the 1930s when Robert “Bob” Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Beverly Hills, threw whatever he had together in a salad. He shared it with his friend, Sid Grauman, the owner of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, who came back the next day and asked for a “Cobb salad.” This is proof that late-night snack concoctions are often delicious, no matter how strange.

California Roll

While many people enjoy sushi, others can’t stomach the thought of eating raw fish. Vancouver-based, Japanese-born, sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo created a type of sushi in the 1960s consisting of avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab. He claims that he intentionally made the roll inside out as well to “hide the seaweed”. After many people flocked from LA to try this unique roll, it became known as the California roll.


According to PBS, John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, would often indulge in a light snack consisting of two slices of bread filled with cold meat, often beef. After people witnessed this, they started referring to the concoction as a “sandwich”. While he didn’t create today’s lunchtime go-to, he is its namesake. 

What Other Interesting Food Name Origins Are There?

While many of these make sense, there are some that are still a bit strange, such as Eggs Benedict or Baked Alaska. Even though these foods have unique names, we’re still thankful for such delicious meals. Now, try to concoct your own strange snack!