England’s been around longer than the United States in terms of being a major world trading power (remember the British Empire, the East India Trading Company, and the Industrial Revolution in which raw goods such as cotton were shipped from the US to the UK to be made into textiles?), so you’d think that the products in the UK would be better than in the US.
But it ain’t so. America has perfected the art of consumer marketing, from making products that people want, or are made to believe they want, to creating advertising that is targeted, sophisticated, and successful. But there are two outposts of consumer marketing–fashion and music–that England does better than the US, even though it ceded its place in the international film industry to Hollywood decades. So let’s see what the US does better than the UK, and what the UK does better than the US.
Tea. A no-brainer. Of course, much better here in the UK, with many more types of regular tea on offer. Stronger, too. The US probably has a wider range of herbal teas but no one here really cares when you already have the best tea in the world.
Sandwich bags. Worse in the UK, but improving. Until a few years ago, I’d never seen here in the UK the sort of plastic bags that you can close at the top with a “zip-lock fasteners” that proliferate in the US. In the UK there are still bags available that open at the top . . . and never close. What’s the point of these, I ask, when whatever’s inside will fall out or worse, leak tuna fish juice all over your bag? None, I answer.
Plastic bandages, called “plasters” in the UK, are rubbish. They don’t stay stuck, and quickly fall off. There’s nothing like the US equivalent for curing boo-boos.
Cat Litter. UK cat litter is definitely worse. The stink is awful, and nothing traps the pee well. I tried three different brands–from the Blue Cross animal shelter, the supermarkets Waitrose and Tesco–and there’s nothing anywhere near the quality of the scoopable and smell-controlling cat litter we get in the US.
Coffee. The Starbucks here is okay, but much more pricey. Costa coffee is crap. The French-style “infusion” method can be tasty, but too many people use those coffee crystals from jars, which are gross.
Yogurt (US, pronounced yoh-gurt) yogurt (UK, pronounced yog-gurt). There are a lot of varieties of yogurt in the superstores in the UK, probably more than in the US, including such flavors as “kiwi” and “strawberry rhubarb.”
The Rachel’s yogurt in the UK, especially the Greek yogurt, which is not in the least bit non-fat, is absolutely delish. But I desperately miss my Dannon coffee yogurt that I live on in the US and still crave after abstinence of several months. In general, the UK yogurts are healthier than the US yogurts, which are more likely to include such things as M&Ms or crushed Oreo cookies on top of a small amount of yogurt, or other unhealthy additions to what should be a totally healthy snack, but you can never find the great big tubs of plain or vanilla yogurt that you readily get in the US.
Fruits and veggies. Much more seasonal (i.e., limited) than in the US, at least in the smaller stores, though the superstores have almost everything you need.
Let me know what differences you’ve seen while shopping in the US and UK!