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27 Amazing United States Facts You Probably Didn't Know

This is what you probably don't know about the U.S.'s past and present.

Whether you only know the basic facts about the United States or consider yourself to be an expert when it comes to patriotic trivia, we can guarantee that there are plenty of quirky tidbits that would still surprise you about this fascinating country. From the controversial food that's not legally a sandwich to the states where dinosaur remains have not been found, these are some of our favorite U.S. facts you probably didn't already know.

Ninety-four percent of U.S. homes have at least one jar of peanut butter.

open jar of peanut butter

What's your favorite way to eat peanut butter? As a cookie? Perhaps a smoothie? Or maybe you're a purist and prefer a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich? If you live in the U.S.—and aren't allergic to peanuts, of course—chances are you enjoy peanut butter on a regular basis, regardless of the manner in which you consume it. According to the National Peanut Board, 94 percent of U.S. homes have at least one jar of the popular spread on-hand at all times.

A burrito is legally not a sandwich in the U.S.

mexican beef burrito on a plate

While we're on the subject of food, let's talk about sandwiches. If we asked what kind is your favorite, you could say PB&J, egg salad, or tuna fish, for example, and they would all be acceptable answers. But if you told us a burrito was your favorite type of sandwich, well, we'd have to ask you to try again. That's because, in 2006, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke of Worcester, Massachusetts ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees: USDA worker Mark Wheeler explained to NPR in 2014, "A sandwich is a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit."

The highest-paid public employee in 40 U.S. states is either a football or basketball coach.

back of coach's black shirt

It's no secret that professional athletes can rake in the cash, but did you know the same can be said for their coaches? Actually, it's even true of coaches at the college level. In fact, chances are high that the highest-paid public employee in your state is a coach. In August 2019, GOBankingRates broke down the data as of 2018, explaining that "out of all the highest-paid public employees on [the] list, 29 held head football coach positions, and most pulled down a hefty annual salary of $1 million or more." They also note that "not a single basketball coach on the list earned less than $1 million in 2018. In fact, a collegiate basketball coach takes the top spot, bringing home a staggering annual salary that exceeded $9 million." Looks like the rest of us picked the wrong jobs!

During prohibition, doctors could write prescriptions for alcohol.

doctor's hand writing prescription

When the government banned the sale of alcohol in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933, it didn't completely outlaw everyone's ability to legally peddle intoxicating beverages. Doctors were allowed to prescribe alcohol to their patients as long as it was for medicinal purposes.

The Library of Congress used to keep an archive of every tweet.

interior of the library of congress

In 2010, the Library of Congress announced that they'd nabbed a "groundbreaking acquisition—a gift from Twitter of the entire archive of public tweet text beginning with the first tweets of 2006 through 2010." They now have 12 years' worth of tweets, but choose which ones to save "on a selective basis." The reason for maintaining such an archive? To "preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people."

Dinosaur fossils have been found in most states except Midwestern ones.

dinosaur skeleton on the ground

According to Sciencing, dinosaur fossils have popped up in the majority of our country's states, primarily in the Southwest and Western Mountain regions. However, Midwest states Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio have been fossil-free for years.

It's possible to run across the U.S. in under 43 days.

feet of marathon runners

If marathons are your thing, or if you just like the movie Forrest Gump, perhaps you've contemplated how long it would take to run across this sprawling country of ours. Well, when one man did just that, it took about a month and a half. Pete Kostelnick set a Guinness World Record in 2016 when he completed the unfathomable feat of running from San Francisco to New York City in 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes.

The United States doesn't have an official language.

two young men having a conversation

Some people might assume that English is the official language of the United States since it's the one most commonly spoken across the country. However, that's not the case because the U.S. doesn't actually have an official language. CNN explains that in 1981 and 2006, amendments to the Constitution were introduced to make English the official language, but they failed to pass both times. That's why the government tried yet again in 2017, but it has also yet to pass.

In 1974, a disgruntled military hopeful stole a helicopter and landed it on the White House lawn.

hellicopter flying in the sky

In 1974, U.S. Army officer Robert Kenneth Preston's flying career wasn't going as planned, so he decided to make himself "feel better" by stealing a military helicopter, Air & Space recounted. Eventually, Preston landed the chopper on the White House lawn about 100 yards away from the building itself. A witness described the event, saying he "could have driven right in the front door." Eventually, Preston was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison—and then two more in military prison, after which he was honorably discharged.

President George H.W. Bush banned broccoli from the White House and Air Force One.

broccoli on a plate

Broccoli may not be the most popular vegetable, but President George H.W. Bush truly loathed it. In fact, he hated it so much, that he had it banned from both the White House and Air Force One while he was in office.

Apple had twice as much money as the U.S. government in 2014.

exterior of an apple store

Apple creates some of the most popular products on the market and has been doing so for years. So maybe it's not entirely shocking that in 2014—the year Apple released the MacBook Air, iPod Touch, and the iPhone 6 (among other innovations)—the company had more than twice as much money as the U.S. government. According to Forbes, Apple was sitting on $160 billion while "the Treasury only had $49 billion on hand to keep the government working."

One in eight Americans held a job at McDonald's at some point.

people walk by mcdonald's restaurant

Are you an alum of Mickey D's? If so, you're certainly not alone. According to the 2001 book Fast Food Nation, one in every eight U.S. residents had worked at McDonald's.

The average person in the U.S. eats around 29 pounds of french fries every year.

french fries and ketchup

For most Americans, 30.6 percent of their vegetable intake is potatoes, according to government data from 2011 (via The Week). How much of those potatoes were in the form of french fries? For the average person living in the U.S. at the time, about 29 pounds.

There's a cemetery in North Carolina that is owned by the Brits.

a cemetery during sunrise

If you're ever in Ocracoke, North Carolina, be sure to stop by the small plot of land that is, in fact, a British cemetery. The plot is preserved to honor the British sailors who died on board the HMT Bedfordshire on May 11, 1942, when they were hit by a torpedo while patrolling the area for enemy boats. Four of the soldiers are actually buried there.

Americans spent $75.38 billion on their pets in 2019.

dog and cat under a blanket

Do you like to provide your pets with the best food, toys, and even adorable outfits? If so, then you're among those who created a thriving animal-related industry that saw owners spend $72.5 billion on their pets in 2018, according to the American Pet Products Association. And they estimate 2019 sales to be even higher: $75.38 billion!

James and Mary were the most popular names for babies in the U.S. over the span of 100 years.

mom holding newborn baby at the hospital

According to Social Security data collected from 1919 to 2018, names like John, Robert, Michael, and William were popular choices for baby boys over the span of 100 years. And girls were often given the monikers Patricia, Jennifer, Linda, or Elizabeth. But the names that were most popular during that time were James for boys and Mary for girls.

Mississippi is the slowest-speaking state in the U.S.

welcome to mississipi sign

Plenty of southern states are famous for their distinctive drawls. But if you want to hear the slowest-speakers in the entire country, then you'll need to head down to Mississippi and chat with locals who have a particularly long, lingering way of talking, according to CNN Traveler.

Cincinnati has an unused subway system that leads nowhere.

old abandoned subway station

Way back in the 1880s, the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, was on its way to getting a revolutionary subway system. However, despite the fact that it was built, it was never used due to a lack of funds. Although the dormant underground system still exists, its "entrances have been sealed with concrete and its tunnels are blocked by brick walls and steel fences," according to the city's website.

A Washington town has a treetop bridge to help squirrels cross the street safely.

nutty narrows bridge

The people of Longview, Washington, apparently have a soft spot for their furry, nut-gathering friends. That's surely why, back in 1963, they constructed the Nutty Narrows Bridge, a treetop structure that provides squirrels a safe place to cross the street.

Louisiana is home to the world's longest continuous bridge over water.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge

Stretching for an impressive 23.87 miles, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest continuous bridge over water.

There are 300 ostrich ranches in Arizona with approximately 10,000 birds.

baby ostriches at ostrich farm

When you think of Arizona, you probably don't immediately associate it with ostriches, but after reading this you will. The Grand Canyon State is home to about 10,000 of the birds on 300 ostrich ranches.

The first U.S. vineyard and winery opened in 1799, in Kentucky.

grapes hanging at vineyard

Kentucky is famous for its bourbon, but it is also the place where the first commercial vineyard and winery was established in the U.S. Back in 1799, the aptly named First Vineyard began operating in Lexington, making wine history in the U.S.

There are more horses per square mile in New Jersey than any other state.

bunch of horses

New Jersey may be known as "the Garden State," but perhaps it should be famous instead for the sheer number of horses that live in the area. Believe it or not, there are more horses per square mile in New Jersey than in any other state in the country. No wonder the United States Equestrian Team is based in Gladstone, New Jersey!

The most common job in the United States is a retail salesperson.

team of salespeople

If you are interested in switching careers—and you can't get a job coaching college football or basketball—your best bet may be to find one as a retail salesperson. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that was the most common job in the U.S. as of May 2018!

There's a 190-year-old shopping mall in Rhode Island.

The Arcade shopping mall in Providence, Rhode Island
Marc Dufresne/iStock

Shoppers who spend their money at Rhode Island's Arcade Providence are doing so at structure with a long history. Built in 1829 and boasting "distinguished Greek Revival columns, granite walls, and classic facades," the Rhode Island landmark is the oldest indoor shopping mall in the country.

Plumbers call the day after Thanksgiving "Brown Friday" because it is their busiest day of the year.

family thanksgiving dinner

If you need your toilet fixed the day after Thanksgiving, you might have to wait a while before someone shows up to fix your clogged pipes. Deemed "Brown Friday" by those in the business, it's the busiest day of the year for plumbers in the U.S.

The 50-star American flag was designed by a student who was given a B- on the design.

american flag

In 1958, Robert G. Heft was a 17-year-old high school student in Lancaster, Ohio, who designed a new 50-star American flag as a part of a history project. While his work only earned him a B- from his teacher, it was impressive enough to be chosen as the updated version of the country's national flag. Fortunately, this resulted in Heft's grade being changed to an A.

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more
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