France has baguettes, Japan has sushi, and the U.S. has its own contributions to the world that are hard to imagine coming from anywhere else. But these products aren’t always everything they seem.
Some products, businesses and landmarks that are thought to be as American as hot dogs and apple pie are actually owned by companies in Europe, Asia or elsewhere. They all have their roots in the U.S., and they’re all symbols of authentic American ingenuity, but they’re owned by companies from across the globe.
CNBC.com presents a list of foreign-owned brands, businesses and landmarks that are perceived by the public to be as American as it gets.
It would be hard to imagine a beer that Americans have embraced more wholeheartedly than Budweiser. Bud Light and Budweiser are the number one and number three bestselling beers in America, respectively, and in September, the brewers of Bud will sponsor the “Budweiser Made In America” festival in Philadelphia, hosted by rapper Jay-Z.
Budweiser is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V., a Belgian and Brazilian company with headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. Its U.S. operations include managing 12 breweries plus hops farms, malt plants, barley elevators and a rice mill.
For most Americans, Alka-Seltzer is the go-to antacid and pain reliever when that extra slice of pizza doesn’t agree with you.
Part of its popularity comes from its U.S. television advertisements, which had tunes (“plop plop, fizz fizz”) and catchphrases (“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”) so memorable that decades later people still mention them in conversation.
Alka-Seltzer is owned by Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical company. It operates multiple sites all over the U.S. for administration, marketing, research and development and manufacturing.
The Good Humor ice cream brand was introduced in Ohio during the 1920s. The product was sold from trucks and grew so popular that it went national within a decade.
In 1961, the Thomas J. Lipton Company acquired it, and Lipton’s parent company, the British and Dutch Unilever, merged Good Humor with its other ice cream brands, Breyers, Klondike Bar and Popsicle, in 1993.
The resulting company, Good Humor-Breyers, operates out of Unilever’s U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. The company says it employs 11,000 people in the U.S., including 2,300 in its Englewood Cliffs office.
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, 2011 was a good year for the industry. Sales exceeded $680 billion, prompting NACS Chairman Tom Robinson to conclude that “one-stop shopping and speed of service for refreshments, food and fuel … continues to resonate with our customers.”
Perhaps no convenience store chain in the U.S. is as well-known as 7-Eleven, originator of the Slurpee and the Big Gulp. It operates over 7,000 stores throughout the country, but nearly twice that amount is found in Japan, home of Seven & I Holdings Co., owner of the entire chain.
The Gerber Products Company is one of the best-known makers of baby products in the U.S. The company was founded in Michigan in 1927, and its pureed bananas, pacifiers and baby bottles have been flying off U.S. store shelves ever since.
In 1994, the company merged with Sandoz Laboratories, which would merge with another company in 1996 to form Novartis. In 2007, the company sold off Gerber to the Swiss multinational Nestlé for $5.5 billion.
Click here for the full list of Foreign-Owned America.
More from CNBC: