Strange Foods and Downright Weird Foods that People Eat

Deep Fried Twinkie Anyone?

Deep fried Twinkie on a stick is a popular treat in some cities.
Deep fried Twinkie on a stick is a popular treat in some cities. | Source

Strange foods not usually found in family cookbooks

A few years ago I collected recipes from family members and put together a family recipe book for our family reunion. In it, the older generation shared many favorite recipes that their kids loved. There was rouladin, sauerbraten, pierogies, and Black Forest Cake. The younger generation shared their best recipes for barbeque, cookies and beer battered fish. Everyone loved having all these favorites in one place.

Weird Foods

Now, as I read through that cookbook, I see that it is obviously missing a vital section: Weird Foods that People Eat. Missing is the mustard sandwich that my oldest son used to make out of white bread and mustard. I didn’t add my favorite liverwurst, raisin and relish sandwich. No one mentioned bananas and sour cream or leftover spaghetti with cinnamon, sugar and butter on it. Old favorites like an egg sandwich with grape jelly or peanut butter sandwich with cucumber slices were totally ignored.

But these quirky family food preferences are nothing compared to the strange foods that people eat around the country and around the world.

Fried Pickles Served with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing

Fried pickles are a popular local treat in some areas of the South.
Fried pickles are a popular local treat in some areas of the South. | Source

Fried Pickles and Deep Fried Twinkies on a Stick

Thinking about some of these family favorites made me wonder what unique snacks people around the world might enjoy. Even in the U.S. there are regional favorites that have to be acquired tastes. In some southern towns, local diners offer fried pickles coated with a beer batter, deep fried and served with ranch or blue cheese dressing while deep fried Twinkies, batter dipped, fried and served on a stick are found in New York City.

Charlotte Russe

When I was a kid in the 1950s, my parents took me to New York City often and one of our special treats was a Charlotte Russe purchased from a street vendor. I’ve never seen it sold since then, but I remember it as a delectable piece of cake served in a paper cup and topped with swirled whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. As a little girl, I loved its looks as much as its taste.

But these foods, while they might be a novelty, are definitely not strange foods compared to some other weird foods that people eat! Read on...

Head Cheese - Mmmmm...

Head cheese was a way to use up otherwise unusable parts of the animal.
Head cheese was a way to use up otherwise unusable parts of the animal. | Source

Unusual Food Made From Heart, Liver, Lungs or Heads

Haggis, a Scottish dish that seems to be universally disliked, is a pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. While it hasn't gained much popularity in the U.S., some of these other equally weird foods have.

Head Cheese or Souse

Head Cheese or souse is made from cow or pig’s head with eyes, ears and brain removed. This is a jellied meat made from cow or pig’s head, sometimes including pigs feet. The cleaned head of the animal is cooked until the meat falls off the bone, then it's seasoned and poured into a mold to jell. When head cheese cools, it can be sliced. My Russian grandfather used to love this, as did my father, and it was often served sliced as a lunchtime treat. I was surprised to find a similar version was popular in my husband’s German farm family. While many of us find the thought of this unusual food repulsive, making head cheese is just one way of making sure that nothing goes to waste when slaughtering an animal.

Squirrel Brains, Anyone?

The Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Appalachia, serves traditional mountain comfort food –squirrel brains. While there is a video showing in detail exactly how squirrel and squirrel brains are prepared at the Appalachian resort, I've chosen to delete it as my audience may not be ready for this. Suffice to say that, while the preparation is unappetizing, the finished dish doesn't look half bad. That doesn't mean I'd eat it, though! Would you?

Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mountain Oysters look good, but do you know what they are?
Rocky Mountain Oysters look good, but do you know what they are? | Source

Rocky Mountain Oysters - Definitely a Strange Food!

Despite the appetizing look of the dish, here's one that the squeamish may not find enticing once they discover what it is. My personal opinion? Rocky Mountain Oysters are only a dish that cowboys would enjoy eating.

Rocky Mountain Oysters – Also sometimes called sweetbreads, Rocky Mountain Oysters, or Prairie Oysters, are actually calf testicles. They are prepared by peeling (ugh!), then slicing, breading and frying the ...uh...oysters. Rocky Mountain Oysters seem to be more popular in cattle country like Texas and Oklahoma. They are not something usually seen on menus in the Northeast!

Corn Smut - What a delicacy!

Corn Smut - a delicacy in Mexican cuisine.
Corn Smut - a delicacy in Mexican cuisine. | Source

Corn Smut, or Huitlacoche...Yum!

Corn smut, called huitlacoche in Mexico, is considered a delicacy in Mexico and certain gourmet Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Perhaps if no one told us that huitlacoche is another name for "corn smut", a blue fungus that forms galls on corn, it would seem more enticing. When cooked properly, the color of Huitlacoche changes to black. It is said to have an earthy taste similar to mushrooms, and is eaten as filling in quesadillas, in omlets and succotash and in soups.


Menudo – Another traditional Mexican dish, menudo is a soup made from beef stomach, lime, cilantro, oregano, onions and spices. This is a traditional dish, and restaurants in the Southwest often advertise it as a special around holiday time.

Feet, Guts and Other Spare Parts

Pig’s uterus, kidneys, chicken feet, tripe are all components for regional and ethnic dishes found in larger cities with diverse cultures. Probably all delicious when prepared properly...

Balut - Fertilized duck egg

Balut: Fertilized duck egg...ready to cook!
Balut: Fertilized duck egg...ready to cook! | Source

Balut, Duck Egg with Embryo...Strange Food, Indeed!

Balut is a fertilized duck egg, but not just fertilized, it has the actual baby duck embryo inside. Hard boiled duck egg with duck embryo inside is a Filipino treat that is sold by street vendors in the Philippines. It has not quite caught on in the U.S. Though it can be found at Filipino markets, few restaurants will offer balut.

Lutefisk...dinner, anyone?

Lutefisk dinner.
Lutefisk dinner. | Source

Lutefisk - Strange Food ... Or Is It Food?


Lutefisk is just a Scandinavian dish made of de-boned, salted, white fish that is dried and then soaked in lye. Amazingly, the process for making Lutefisk takes a couple of weeks involving drying, salting, soaking in water, soaking in lye (yes lye!), soaking in water again and finally cooking. The amazing part of this is that anyone thinks the finished product is worth all this trouble. The lye dissolves the protein and the resulting soup is then cooked and eaten. That is, if it hasn't been left in the lye too long. Then it turns to soap. Lutefisk is popular with Scandinavian populations in Winsconsin, Minnesota and British Columbia. Ummm...pass...

Kopi Luwak Coffee

The most expensive coffee in the world!

Kopi Luwak coffee - This gourmet coffee is processed with the help of a small animal, The Palm Civet, an Asian relative of the raccoon. In fact, Kopi Luwak coffee, also sometimes called Civet coffee, is the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world. You can try it yourself for only $400 a pound ($25/oz) through!) Oh, you're wondering where the palm civet comes into the picture? It turns out, the palm civet eats the cherries from coffee trees and excretes the seeds, the coffee beans. Somewhere between the eating and the pooping, the coffee beans turn into the expensive and much sought after gourmet coffee beans. The civet poop is collected, the coffee beans are dug out of it and it sold as the best and most expensive coffee in the world. You can judge for yourself for only $400 a pound ($25/oz) through!

Strange and Weird Foods Poll

Have you tried any strange and unusual foods?

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There you have it...Downright weird foods that people actually eat

Foods highlighted in this article have been deliberately selected from weird foods enjoyed in the U.S. If you are among those who enjoy some of the unusual dishes mentioned here, please don't take offense. We applaud your fortitude!


Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel

*Update: Friends and readers have pointed out that I've missed some important weird foods that are enjoyed in various parts of the U.S. Honorable mention goes to rattlesnake, turtle, crawfish, periwinkle, chicken feet, conch, snails...

Do you enjoy any strange or unusual foods in your family? Do you have regional or cultural specialties that others might find strange or weird? Please comment below!

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Comments - Do you enjoy any strange or weird foods? Tell us! 160 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

OMG, I feel like I might vomit! The head cheese was enough to turn my stomach and it only got worse after that. Great hub, funny, but I'll pass on trying any of these gourmet delights. Nice job Steph!

davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

Stephanie: I don't think I will eat most of those but they were sure interesting to read about. Nice hub, voted up and shared.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Billybuc - You crack me up! I have to admit that some of this stuff made me a little queasy (the balut, especially!), but head cheese is something that was served at my grandparents' house, so I have tried it. It's not as bad as you might think. The other gourmet delights...I'll pass, too! :)

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Davenmidtown - Haha...won't you try a few of these strange foods? I think that most of these delicacies are an acquired taste...and I'm not about to acquire them! Thanks so much for your comment and for the share!

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

How interesting. The weirdest food I ever was offered was eggs and brains. Here in the south there is a dish called "chitlins"or chitterlings. They're horrible. I will go for some of that Charlotte Russe!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Rebeccamealey - Eggs and brains...hmmm...not something I'd like to face first thing in the morning. I'm with you, I'll take the Charlotte Russe! :) Thanks for stopping by to comment!

davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

I might try the deep fried twinkie... I have eaten pickled pigs feet when I was younger but the last time I tried them... oh no thank you... I used to love creamed corn too as a child but I can not eat it not... just does not taste good... yuck!

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Very interesting hub! As a foodie, I've tried some of these: rocky mt. oysters, haggis and menudo are actually quite yummy when prepared correctly. Head cheese and fried twinkies are never appetizing and balut is down-right revolting in my opinion, but we're each entitled to our own tastes. Voted up and awesome! Thanks for a unique hub.

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kelleyward 4 years ago

Yuck Stephanie!!! It amazes me what people will eat. What about snake. I remember going to a family reunion where people were eating snake. Thanks for sharing this hub. This was a great read! Voted up and shared!

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Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

VOTED UP!!! You have quite a collection, and I applaud you for your research. I am of Filipino descent, but I will not eat balut. In 1968, I was on a bus to Manila to catch my plane, and sometime in the middle of the night, someone thought it would be a good thing to feed this kid some balut. NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! I am pretty open to trying different food because I consider myself a traveler. When traveling, it is an insult to turn down food or make fun of it. BUT PLULLLLLEASE! NO BALUT FOR MEEEEEEEE!!! Fried dill pickles? Yes, with ranch dressing on top!

KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Ewwwww... I wrote an article recently on Greek food and had to include "weird" foods. One of those was something called "sea squirt"... something that looked like a rock, you cracked it open and scooped out the insides... still dripping. Suffice it to say it is something I will NEVER try! I was grossed out just writing about it! Ha!! And you know if Andrew Zimmern cringes while eating it, it must be pretty bad! Voted YUCK (is there a yuck button?) Ok then, interesting it is! :) :)

Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

What an interesting hub!

I do believe that most people everywhere eat something that would turn the stomachs of others. A restaurant in my region of South USA was cited for cooking dogs and cats. The owners declared that this was a delicacy for them, not their customers.

I have heard of an unusual preparation of whole pork hams and an exotic type of cheese made in a certain country. The process of curing it involves flies laying eggs that become maggots. The maggots are allowed to stay on the hams and cheese for a period of time before they are removed. Then, the food is ready to be enjoyed.

When I was a child in the 50's, I remember observing my aunt cooking a turtle and about 12 of its eggs that she took from its body while cleaning it.

I have also heard of people eating chocolate ants and grasshoppers, beetles, locusts, fillets of rattlesnake, alligator tail, and shark. Conch and snails are eaten by some in S. America, according to an associate who lived in one of the countries for a while.

I have seen pork brains and mountain oysters in local grocery stores. Men usually eat the mountain oysters for a mythical reason.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

I was watching a show on telly about the Ozzie customs. They caught some chap trying to smuggle that Kopi coffee in and confiscated it: he was heartbroken; no wonder.

I ate menudo a lot during my hangover days - great cure. And bull's testicles are said to be aphrodisiacs.

Interesting Steph


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

Wow! This is certainly a list of foods that won't touch my lips. Very interesting hub as I had never heard of some of those foods.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Davenmidtown - I'm with you. The desserts like deep fried Twinkies seem a little over the top, but probably palatable. Deep fried animal parts, not so much! :)

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

vespawoolf - Good for you for giving some of these exotic things a try! I'm usually game to try most anything, but there balut and Rocky Mountain oysters would probably set off the gag reflex. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

kelleyward - I have heard that rattlesnake is eaten in some parts of the country, but I've never had the opportunity to try it. Not so sure about it... Thanks for stopping by to share your comments!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Arlene V. Poma - Thanks for your interesting comment. Poor kid being presented with a snack of balut in the middle of the night! Trying different foods as you travel does make your travels more interesting, and I think gives us a deeper understanding of different cultures, but most of us do have to draw the line somewhere! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Pamela99 - Glad you found this list of strange foods interesting. What's amazing is that some of the things most of us find a little revolting, are considered delightful by others. To each his/her own! Thanks for your comment!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

KathyH - I tried to stick to weird foods that are found in the U.S., but some of the unusual food that people eat world wide is mind (and stomach) boggling! I've seen Andrew Zimmern eat some very unpalatable food for the sake of entertainment! Thanks for sharing your comments! Sorry, no YUCK button. :)

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Levertis Steele - Thanks so much for your interesting comments on different exotic and strange foods! OK, the rattle snake, alligator and shark don't sound so bad, but I think I'd draw the line at the maggoty ham and cheese! I guess I shouldn't be squeamish when writing about weird foods, but pork brains? ...ewww! I enjoyed your input, thanks for visiting!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Diogenes - Gosh, the poor guy who lost his Kopi coffee could have lost a fortune at the cost per pound!

I have tried menudo, and found it to be pretty good, though I didn't know it was a hangover cure. Rocky Mountain Oysters as an aphrodisiac? That explains their popularity among certain populations!

sallieannluvslife profile image

sallieannluvslife 4 years ago from Eastern Shore

Too Funny!! Great Hub, Stephanie! Once again, you made me smile!! My mom used to eat liverwurst and onion sandwiches that I thought were strange, but that doesn't come close to some of the things you have here! I'll stick with my fluffer nutters, thank you.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

sallieannluvslife - I'm sure that in some cultures, fluffer nutters would be considered strange and weird food! :) Thanks much for your comments!

jaswinder64 profile image

jaswinder64 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada.

Nice and interesting hub. Voted up.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Jaswinder64 - Glad you found my hub on strange foods and weird foods interesting. Thanks for the read and comment!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

I have tried menudo and chicken feet. I didn't really like the menudo but have to admit I do love deep-fried chicken feet! haha....Great hub, by the way. It was a fun read.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Oh my I had a difficult time with some of those photos. What are people thinking!? The deep fried twinkie looked good. Eat one today and have a coronary tomorrow. Ha! GREAT collection of foods for those daring enough to eat them. The head cheese. Oh my!!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Om Paramapoonya - The menudo I had at a friends' home was very good, but haven't ever tried deep fried chicken feet -- not sure about that! Glad you enjoyed the hub, thanks for stopping by!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Sunshine - I would definitely stick to things like the deep fried Twinkies, though my grandchildren tell me that deep fried dill pickles are just wonderful. Now the head cheese is really not as bad as it might sound... ;)

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Stephanie,I'll pass on all these foods,i do love coffee but not at $400 a pound.Must be because the have to pay those workers who pick up the civet poop to get the coffee beans a lot of money.

Vote up and more !!!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Kashmir - I'm a coffee lover, too, but I'll pass on the civet coffee! Perhaps civet poop pickers do get a higher wage than normal...I was thinking that civets just didn't poop that much...guess we'll never know! :) Thanks for stopping by!

rick combe profile image

rick combe 4 years ago from USA

Great article, I love trying strange foods! I've tried the sause in a sandwich, not very good. I've had huitlacoche in a small mexican village, It's definitely got an earthy taste, but it was pretty good with hand made tortillas. I found menudo to be a little on the chewy side, though the broth was great. I've also tried pigs feet and cow cheek, both of which weren't good. I would love to try balut one day if I could find it.

One meat you can find at the grocery store that you probably haven't tried and really should is cow's tongue. It is one of the most delicious parts of the cow, cooked in a slow cooker with just garlic, water and onions for three hours. It's better than the best roast beef you have ever tasted.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Rick Combe - I admire your adventurous spirit when it comes to trying new foods! We never know what will turn out to be a delightful and tasty food until we try it, and it sounds like you can speak with the voice of experience on many foods that most of us haven't yet tried. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!

Naima Manal profile image

Naima Manal 4 years ago from NY

Very, very interesting. I thought I was going to be able to eat the corn, but never mind.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Naima Manai - Oh, sorry about the corn... ;) Glad you found this interesting. Some foods that people enjoy are definitely not for everyone!

thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden

I am amazed over the things people eat! But, maybe I belong to the strange people because I have eaten Lutfisk many times in my life! It is a traditional dish on every Swedish Julbord that we have on Christmas. Surprisingly, it doesn't taste much, in my opinion it is the sauce that taste the most, so in my family we have more or less excluded the Lutfisk at Christmas. A Swedish Julbord contains so many different food so it is enough anyway:) Thanks for this amazing culinary trip around the world! voted up, interesting


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

I'm sure that many dishes on the Swedish Julbord would seem strange to us, just as some of the foods here would seem strange to other cultures. It's always interesting to hear about other cultures's foods and traditions. Thanks for stopping by to comment and share your experiences!

abbaelijah profile image

abbaelijah 4 years ago from Nigeria

This Foods are very, very Strange,especially the baluta

Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 4 years ago

A very interesting, eye-opening but nauseating hub. No offence about the the word 'nauseating' - it just shows how you have succeeded in selecting for your list of strange and weird foods. I've watch a documentary on baluts before and have heard about Civet coffee, which I find outrageously disgusting. I have also heard of horse's rectum served in China and of ducks' tongues selling on the streets of Bangkok. Yucks! Never should any animals' internal organs land on my tastebuds.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Abbaelija - Yes, these are strange foods, but is interesting to know about the odd things that people eat and enjoy!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Carmen H - I'll take "nauseating" as a complement. :) I admit that I was aiming to highlight some strange foods that people hadn't heard of before. I'm sure that if you look around the world at other cultures, there are many, many more foods that we would consider outrageous. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

Hi, Stephanie...Very interesting hub about strange food, if not too easy for the faint-hearted to contemplate. Some I'd already known of; some, I hadn't. It's amazing to me what people will eat, but then, individuals have varying tastes, in food as in everything else. That's what makes us "individuals."

A Southern dish eaten by many people where I lived when I was young(though not in my family!) was "chittlins'", made from cleaning and boiling intestines (not sure which animal, probably pork), then frying them. The smell at any stage of preparation was so horrible (as I noted when once at the home of someone prepping them) I don't understand how anyone could actually ingest the stuff. However, chittlings are probably still eaten by some people in the Deep South. Whether they're considered soul food or redneck fare (or both) I'm not sure, but you won't find them at any mainstream Southern restaurant. I would consider chittlings an acquired taste, one I never wanted to acquire!

As for myself, when I lived in Texas I ate some fried rattlesnake that I took from an hors d'oeurves tray at a reception. I didn't know what it was until after I ate it (looked like a small bit of fried chicken and actually tasted quite similar). Had I known before sampling, I probably would have passed on it. I've never been what you'd call "adventurous" in my dietary habits.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Jaye - Living in North Carolina, I have occasionally seen chittlins in stores, but have not tried them. I might have been more likely to taste them if I didn't know what they were!

Now, rattlesnake...I don't know. Thanks for sharing your strange food adventures, Jaye!

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

Ugh and gross, at least until I get hungry enough. I did accidentally eat part of a "lamb fry" at a famous local restaurant a long time ago. I did barely taste rattlesnake (on purpose) too, but the rest of the weird food can go to the compost.

Thanks for sharing a gr-reat hub!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Frogyfish - Awww...all that good food going to waste? :)

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Jhudah 4 years ago

oh wow! I'm a Filipino and yeah i love balut it is really great it is not disgusting at all. My sister eats balut too but she don't want to eat the chick inside lol she only eats the yellow part it's like the egg yolk. the balut has a water inside that you have to sip, which is really tasty.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

Oh god. After I realized what huitlacoche is, I felt physically sick. AWESOME HUB!!!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Jhudah - While most of my readers find the idea of balut to be pretty disgusting, I'm glad to get some feedback from someone who is used to eating it. Of course, that won't change anyone's mind, but it's good to hear everyone's opinion! Thanks so much for your comment!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Simone - I'm sorry if I have spoiled your enjoyment of huitlacoche by telling you what it is. Try not to think about it... :)

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