100 Great Things About America

It's time for a breather, America. Fire up the grill, ice down the drinks, and pop open that patio umbrella. Health care, the oil spill, Afghanistan, China, Elena Kagan and financial reform will all be waiting on Tuesday, July 6th. We promise. What won't be, though, is the chance to lean back and remember why we care enough about our country to spar over these things and in the end, remain united.

"Freedom," Albert Camus pointed out, "is nothing else but a chance to be better." For 234 years, America has strived, fought, invented, pushed, pulled and dragged itself towards the better. Fortune was keen to enumerate our progress.

There's no claim to ranking or exclusivity here, so leave the nitpicking aside for another day, though feel free to add to our list in the comments section. Without further ado, and in almost no particular order, we present the Fortune 100 Great Things About America.

1. The Internet
Oh yes, invented in the USA -- maybe Al Gore helped.

2. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights

3. Baseball
America's pastime…steroids or not

4. Mount Rushmore
Home of the original "your face here" gimmick

5. Food in New Orleans
If you can remember it the next morning

6. Rock and roll
Find a Beatles or Stones song uninfluenced by American music. Just try.

7. Hawaii
Mauna Kea, Kaua'i…you gotta see it to believe it.

8. iPod, iPad, and everything Apple

9. Barbecue
Carolina, Mississippi, K.C., Memphis…it's all good.

10. Ford Mustang
Who needs a German car? We'll take the classic.

11. Wikipedia
This article that mentions a popular fact site is a stub. You can help us by expanding it.

12. Buffalo
Because this is a real sentence: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Don't believe us? Check on #11.

13. Slam dunks
Thanks to Doctor J

14. Broadway
If the Lion King ever closes, Cats will come back.

15. Bluebirds
Listen to mine sing

16. Google
Because no one stands up to China better

17. Mark Twain
The original American bad-ass

18. The national anthem

19. Iced drinks
When will the rest of the world figure this out?

20. Beaches
Cape Cod, Kiawah, Zuma -- ours are better.

21. Madison Square Garden
A little threadbare but still the biggest stage in America's biggest city

22. Delivery pizza

23. The Grateful Dead
Long may the followers of Uncle John's Band live on.

24. YouTube
We keep clicking on home videos even after Charlie bit our finger -- again!

25. The Super Bowl
The parties, the ads -- oh and a sports game, too

26. Fishing
China rules the commercial catch, but more people fish for fun here than anywhere else.

27. Monopoly
A game we sometimes play in real life, too.

28. The Big Apple Circus
Where joy and, occasionally, fear comes in clown twelve-packs by tiny car

29. M&M's
Imitators don't stand a chance

30. Facebook
Friend us? Just kidding… but seriously. Please friend us.

31. Thanksgiving
Loosen your belt and watch the parade

32. Pickup trucks
Our nation's first outlet for unfunny bumper stickers

33. The Simpsons
May Bart and Lisa never make it to high school.

34. Oprah Winfrey
But after 2011, no more free cars for the audience

35. Frisbees
Not just for dogs

36. Mad Men
Jon Hamm + Christina Hendricks = cooler than the actual '60s

37. New York/Boston sports rivalry
For our safety, we decline to comment.

38. MRI machine
Perfect for after that Yanks-Sox game

39. Patagonia
The first to make polyester clothes out of old plastic bottles

40. Archie Comics
Betty or Veronica: 68 years and the debate rages on

41. The Golden Gate Bridge
Dirty Harry meets Full House. Uh oh.

42. Jazz
Even before Ken Burns discovered it

43. Fantasy football

44. S'mores

45. Trader Joe's
If cheap wine were apples, we present the modern Johnny Appleseed. Amen.

46. The 4th of July

47. Harley Davidson
The motorcycle company that has survived both the Great Depression and the Hybrid Obsession

48. March Madness
So crazy it spills into April

49. Scrabble
As Facebook proved, it's Scrabulous

50. Kegs
Even useful when empty, as moorings

51. Slip 'N Slide
Simple. Genius.

52. Ice cream
Ben and Jerry's, Breyers, soft serve… ours freezes the competition

53. Yellowstone National Park

54. Oreos
This choice bribed by the secret dairy farmers' cartel

55. Edward R. Murrow
A journalist who was cool? Sigh.

56. Restaurant week
The one week a year when snooty waiters have to play nice

57. Washington D.C. monuments at night
Lincoln looks good

58. Bugs Bunny
Every parent's dream: he's nice to doctors and he eats his veggies

59. Etch A Sketch
Don't shake away our faith in this one

60. Coca-cola
Hmmm… what does the "coca" stand for again?

61. Flip flops
Not the John Kerry kind, though both can be found on Nantucket

62. Vegas weddings

63. Napa wine
If anyone orders Merlot, we're leaving

64. Willie Nelson

65. eBay
The only place where you can buy a single cornflake

66. Blueberries
Our favorite fruit that can't check email

67. The Rockettes

68. Charles Barkley
Hosting Saturday Night Live and pitching for T-Mobile, Sir Charles is now larger than life

69. Blue jeans
Levi Strauss invented the modern version only to see them become boringly ubiquitous

70. County fairs
We recommend you eat your corndog after swinging that sledgehammer at the High Striker game

71. The Oscars
A celebration of everything good and awful about Hollywood

72. Veterans
Thank you

73. Steakhouses
Thankfully, not rare

74. The Tiffany box
The only package more powerful than its contents

75. Sports mascots
The San Diego Chicken vs. the Phillie Phanatic

76. The Great Lakes

77. Salt water taffy
Delicious even though they contain neither salt nor water

78. Roller coasters
Possibly the only 30-second activity worth a three-hour wait

79. HBO
Even if we're unsold on the vampire craze

80. The Everglades
Where else would you go to get drunk and wrestle an alligator?

81. Bonnie and Clyde
Do you and your honey bunny rob banks? No? Then sit down.

82. Chewing gum
But please, remember that it's a silent activity

83. The light bulb
And we just keep inventing better ones!

84. Religious freedom
From Pilgrims to scientologists

85. Bagels
If you've never tried one, come to New York and make your first one an H&H

86. Judd Apatow films

87. The Billboard 100
Measuring our music since 1958

88. Chipotle
And the guacamole really is worth the extra $2.25

89. Dalmatians on fire trucks
Black and white and red all over

90. Disney movies
Not yours, Nicholas Cage. The old school, animated ones

91. New Year's Eve
Every country has one, but they all watch Times Square

92. Elvis Presley
A hound-dog and the King

93. Cowboys

94. Turducken
A true American delicacy: a chicken in a duck in a turkey

95. Netflix
The only movie rental survivor

96. Spring Break
We plead the Fifth

97. Escalators
First used commercially in Yonkers, NY in 1899—who knew?

98. Stand-up comedy
Unless you are singled out

99. Redwood trees
The oldest is 2,200 years old

100. Bendy straws
Invented by a Cleveland entrepreneur—and perhaps Ohio's most significant contribution, though we tip our hats to the Wright Brothers and its 8 U.S. Presidents

101. Charlie Brown
Sorry, Charlie, maybe next time you'll crack the top 100

    Views: 14,431
  • johnecash
  • July 6, 2010, 9:07 am
You might be interested


Reply Attach
  • 5

    102. BACON!

    • USMC
    • July 7, 2010, 5:17 am
    You didn't like Sweeney Todd? That is the only musical I have ever liked, and not just made it through.
    - Albane April 26, 2011, 5:03 am
    don't know sweeney todd
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 6:56 am
    - Albane April 26, 2011, 8:55 am
    ill have to give it a try.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:58 am
  • 5

    103. And twins!
    104. the way a southern girl talks......mmmmmmmm nice.

  • 5

    dont for get MEGAN FOX !!!!!!!
    b923bfaabaad267e - 100 great things about america

  • 5

    find a pic of her making a sandwich and then we are talking!

  • 3

    105. chuck norris

  • 3

    I say 100-110 is chuck norris

  • 2

    Monopoly is American? I didn't know that, I always thought monopoly London was the original

  • 2

    Judd Apatow is The Best!

  • 2

    I know me too, they're named after London streets

    • Jozzoh
    • July 7, 2010, 2:38 pm
  • 2

    Yeah but different cities do different versions I guess, cos I have a monopoly Houston version too haha, but I thought the first ever was from London, guess I was wrong

  • 2

    106 The blues brothers.
    Blues Brothers

    • BEASTY
    • July 29, 2010, 1:30 pm
  • 2

    0 - chuck norris

    • Dannyl
    • July 30, 2010, 5:51 am
  • 2

    This is infact why it's so impossible to divide by 0. Chuck does not like to be bothered by trivial things such as math

    • Dannyl
    • July 30, 2010, 6:19 am
  • 2

    your never to old for megan fox
    Screen shot 2010 07 30 at 3 19 11 PM

  • 2

    I still prefer England, mainly because it's just nicer here. And plus we have our free healthcare.

    its not free. you pay for it. there is no such thing in life as free. some one some where must pay for it. not sure what nicer means? nicer than Florida? than California? than Alaska or Hawaii? England has one weather, we have them all.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 6:53 am
    Fair enough about that, and the weather thing was funny xD
    But I still like England, America is a great place, went there on holiday (: Not many fat people, which is one sterotype there.
    - DarkHunter April 26, 2011, 6:55 am
    to say all people from the US are fat is to say all people from the UK have bad teach. Sure there are people who fit the description but to generalize is never wise.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 6:59 am
    Yeah I know, I never once believed there were so many fat people in America.
    - DarkHunter April 26, 2011, 7:02 am
  • 1

    no sir monopoly is home grown here in the US

  • 1

    I disagree with #8, sir, I think it should be everything Windows. And everything has water in it, in response to #77.

    I said windows, not microsoft. they are different, if Im not mistaken. and I agree with you, it does suck.
    - cary139 April 25, 2011, 9:22 pm
    Nope, Windows is just another name for Microsoft. Just like Mac is another name for Apple.
    - Ertrov April 26, 2011, 12:39 pm
  • 1

    thats what photoshop is for my friend

  • 1

    Monopolywas invented by Charles Darrow,a domestic heater salesman from Germantown, a neighborhood in Philadelphia.

  • 1

    yes, if I'm right, I think it came out of the Great Depression.

  • 1

    Isn't she a bit old for you, Pedobear?

    • Ertrov
    • July 29, 2010, 5:49 pm
  • 1

    But that would include the Zune, which sucks

    • Ertrov
    • July 29, 2010, 5:49 pm
  • 1

    you Sir must be on a mission from Gad to spread the good word known only as the Blues Brothers. there are only 2 musicals i have ever seen that i enjoyed, both are called Blues Brothers.

  • 1

    :D nothing beats the awesome of the blues brothers

    • BEASTY
    • July 30, 2010, 1:30 am
  • 1

    It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, its dark and we are wearing shades. Hit IT

  • 1


    • Math
    • July 30, 2010, 5:44 am
  • 1

    i won't lie, you don't know what you are missing. this is not a list of why the US is better than where you live, only of why its great. i am sure your home is wonderful in many ways as well.

  • 1

    what comes before 1, chuch norris. i like it!

  • 1

    The Man
    The Myth
    The Legend
    Chuck Norris, accept no Substitute.

  • 1

    you are correct it did come out of the great depression. for that reason when it was originally offered to hasbro they didn't want to buy it. they said it was too depressing of a game and that no one would ever want to play a game like that.

  • 1

    1-100 are Chuck Norris silly! this list above is 101-201!

  • 1

    That's dumb because the Coca-Cola Idea was made by the guy who created it mum who was English my friend so i shall call that a joint venture :)

    England made it but America Expanded because the Guy who made Coca-Cola was sent to America during your Civil War Because the English were helping the South were he was put so take that History lession my friend and don't argue about this people it was on Discovery not Wikipedia were random un-educated people put false information 90 % of the time :D

  • 1

    cars in general the model is american.

  • 1

    I know British ancestors!!!!! ;)

  • 1

    Don't get me wrong, i do wan't to see america as i don't travel a lot, mainly my holidays are spent in the glorious irish villages, but i don't see a state worth visiting, now i know majority of the states have their own unique thing which makes the state different. But i guess i don't know enough to pick a area to visit. And damn, thats a lot of inventions, still though, proud to be British/Irish... I guess.

    there is nothing wrong with having pride in your country. to be honest one must retake stock in who and what they are if you don't have national patriotism. for me i love where i live since we call it the "red neck riviera." where i live is one of the few places in the world you can kill a white tailed buck in the morning, catch a tuna in the gulf in the afternoon, then enjoy a crawfish boil at sunset on the bay. when you are ready i am sure you will cross the pond to see your cousins on the other hemisphere. we are diverse and proud of it.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 7:35 am
    Worst thing about Germany is that once you are proud to be german and say how great it is you are a Nazi....
    Thats actually pretty sad.
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 7:58 am
    Yeah it looks like a great state to visit, its just the plane prices and accommodation and what not. But i can't ignore my Irish roots, have you ever been to Ireland? the west coast is stunning, Amazing pubs and resteraunts, empty beaches (as a surf fanatic this is a great factor) Open to the pacific, such a amazing place.
    - miketehpope April 26, 2011, 8:00 am
    i just got back from rome last week. i hate to say i have never made it to your part of the world. i would love to though. you live in a magical place.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:06 am
    not all germans are nazie's. my favorite general from ww2 was the desert fox. he was not a nazi, but he did have pride in his country. i am not sure if you are aware of this, but ww2 has been over in europe since 1945.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:08 am
    Yeah thats what I am always sayin... But still there are people who see it like I said before. During the Soccer World Championships many people had German flags hanging at their cars, houses and wherever they wanted and some people demanded to take them down. One of my teachers even said "it's disgusting"
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 8:12 am
    please send a pic showing what german flag you are speaking about. if you are speaking of the german national flag, you teachers is a bigoted fool.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:15 am
    A couple of my mates wen't to Rome, it sounds amazing, Hot at the moment though, yeah its awesome, shame about the economy and all that.
    - miketehpope April 26, 2011, 8:19 am
    I mean the normal German flag.

    I hated this teacher. And I hate people like that.
    But I can't change anything about that.
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 8:20 am
    you can change it. speak up when people act like fools. one day at a time we can make the world a better place.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:24 am
    i agree. but to be in the colosseum will take your breath away.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:26 am
    Yeah, i have only seen it in pictures, just shows what we can build, with the restrictions of tools in those times, just for amusement.
    - miketehpope April 26, 2011, 8:31 am
  • 1

    Nice list amigo!

    But there is a big negative thing about the USA... And that thingy is called Wisonsin....

    If you say america you should also count things like Buritos and Cape Horn. Since this whole continent is America. So please say the USA. Not just America.

    But let's check the greatest thing about Europe:
    1. Settled in what is now called the USA.

    • Curuba
    • April 26, 2011, 7:55 am
    just as you will always be your parents child, you also live a life of your own. unless you want to tell me you parents always have and always will dictate your life what you say about the US is ignorant at best. not sure what your education is but the US has been its own nation for quite a while now. yes Europeans helped settle it, but did you know there are a lot of native Americans here? did you know there are a lot of African and Asian that also helped settle our great country? I am sorry that due to what ever reason you would like to give you have not studied the US war of Independence. Its a wonderful underdog story about some scrappy rebels who rid their country of an Empire to start their own republic. A revolutionary idea at the time as apposed to the monarchy that many "modern", for the time, countries had in place.
    You say you have an issue with Wisconsin, care to elaborate?
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:04 am
    Calm down little girl.
    That was meant to be positive. Like: only good thing europe ever did was sending people in their little boats over to America.

    Hey but never mind. Just keep acting like the wise old guy who kind of insults everyone for little reasons.

    Peace Brother!
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 8:09 am
    my bad for taking you seriously when i should had know you are a joke.
    peace lil brother, or sister, or what ever you claim to be.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:13 am
    I claim to be male *thumbs up*
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 8:15 am
    fair enough
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:18 am
    Hey you are one of those people who always have to have the last word?
    (That's something we say in Germany. I dont know if people say it in America, too)
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 8:22 am
    its all yours
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:23 am
    Well thank you good sir!
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 8:27 am
    no no no, thank you.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 8:29 am
    No problem! And thanks again for the nice Thank you
    - Curuba April 26, 2011, 10:28 am
  • 1

    I live in the UK but i still want to live in america and you've convinced me even more :)

  • 0

    The internet was in fact invented by Tim Burners Lee, British.

    • Mozart
    • August 20, 2010, 11:51 pm
  • 0

    Baseball was invented in England, as well as Monopoly and Scrabble.
    Plus Americans don't even speak their own language. ;-)

    Football. Good Game.
    - Jjbigscreeners April 26, 2011, 5:41 am
    not sure what message you are trying to convey with your inaccurate statements.
    - johnecash April 26, 2011, 6:57 am
    Can you prove their inaccuracy?
    - Clarkie101 May 1, 2011, 3:27 am
    Great game.
    - Clarkie101 May 1, 2011, 3:27 am
    I sure can. Now to answer the question will I? no, sorry, don't care to be an educator. Some things people must actively seek and learn. Its not their inaccuracy, its yours. Just because you say the wildest most off the wall thing doe not mean i will take time to prove your statements.
    How about this, prove what you say is true. Lets start small. Like most people who don't know what they are talking about, go look up Monopoly and its history. then post your link to your facts. without having to search I already know the history. Here is a hint, Milton Bradly didn't want to buy the game during the great depression due to the fact that, they though it would be depressing as a game. Don't go learn for me, go learn for yourself.
    - johnecash May 1, 2011, 7:47 am
    Turns out I was right. If you were referring to 'The Landlord's Game', published in 1904 by Elizabeth Phillips, I'm sorry for confusing you. I was actually referring to the adaptation of that game published in the 1930's by John Wadding Ltd of the United Kingdom. In terms of baseball, I'm glad that there's no disagreement there. Look, no offence, but you come across as slightly pretentious. I know you may say 'that's who I am', but really no body likes it, and you do need people's help sometimes.
    - Clarkie101 May 7, 2011, 6:08 am
    thats wonderful son but monopoly is a US original. thanks for playing, and do not pass go. In terms of baseball, thats strike two. Keep working at it and you might get it.
    - johnecash May 7, 2011, 6:38 am
    It's a common misconception that baseball originated in the States; it was actually a development from the British game of 'rounders'.
    - Clarkie101 May 7, 2011, 6:47 am
    it was the evolution of a brit game. thats about the only part of what you have to say that is correct.
    - johnecash May 7, 2011, 6:55 am
    Evidence; watch from 6:56:

    - Ruleb May 7, 2011, 7:03 am
    One word: hero.
    - Clarkie101 May 7, 2011, 7:05 am
    wow, so they say it on a game show and you think its true. hahahaahaha
    - johnecash May 7, 2011, 7:13 am
    Gameshow with an army of paid researchers, input from an online forum ( http://www.qi.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17808&start=0&sid=717982bde313fd8769d525243638383d ) and shown on a public service channel which, unlike Fox, is regulated so they can't say whatever they like. More reputable source than Wikipedia I'd say ( which also happens to agree: http://www.qi.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17808&start=0&sid=717982bde313fd8769d525243638383d ). Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry.

    But I'd add turning on a red light and free soft-drink refills to your list. Worth a thousand ball-games.
    - Ruleb May 7, 2011, 7:53 am
    to play baseball you need a baseball field. invented in the US.
    - johnecash June 8, 2011, 8:02 am
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