Krispité, Egalité, Fraternité

As donuts cross the ocean, we recap the French-American cultural exchange program

Published December 20, 2023

a pink krispy kreme donut with multi-colored sprinkles. it has a bite taken out of it. it is sporting a red beret and long cigarette holder

There has been a lot of buzz about the invasion of bedbugs in Paris, but a more pleasant (and tasty) interloper has descended on the French city recently—the quintessential American donut chain, Krispy Kreme. 

Previously the pastry love has been notoriously one-sided: If you’ve ever tucked into a croissant, a crusty baguette, or a crepe, the French would say, Je vous en prie! But with the arrival in France of the Krispy Kremes, it’s the American’s turn to gift the French with a culinary confection. And the locals are happy about it—Krispy Kreme has reached a sugary and feverish pitch in Paris (the lone location, for now).

Maybe we’re new to the carb-y reciprocity, but it does have us wondering: what other American delights have the proud people of France embraced? Allons-y!

Little House on the Prairie

French TV viewers love them some La Petite Maison dans la Prairie! To be fair, most countries have love for the historic American family drama, but the show has an especial cult following in France. The character they are most obsessed with is not Laura, or Mary, or Charles; it’s snobby Nellie. She is still so popular that the actress who played her, Alison Arngrim, still tours the country three months a year (in case you are wondering, she has French tour dates through 2024). As she once told the The New York Times, “They don’t think Nellie is mean. They just think she is French.”


France is known for its traditional coffee culture, so when Starbucks announced its first store there in 2003, people were seething mad about the idea. (probably the same people who referred to Disneyland Paris as a “cultural Chernobyl”—ouch). Twenty years later, there are 283 Starbucks stores in the country, so clearly there is something appealing about the American coffee house. And customers in France still have to order with the confusing “Italian” size system we get in the U.S. 


There locals affectionately call it McDo (pronounced Mc-”dough”), and with 1,555 McDonald’s restaurants in France as of November 2023, there is obviously a little room in their hearts for the American burger chain. What really sealed the deal, according to Business Insider, was that McDonald’s adapted their business model in France to French eating habits. Restaurant design is “miles ahead” of franchises across the Atlantic, and encourages people to take time eating their meal. Plus they also offer fries with traditional “pomme frite” sauce, and blue cheese on their burgers, and macarons, and flan for dessert! Oh, and they serve beer if you’re 18 and up.

Jerry Lewis

While he is known as the “King of Comedy” in the U.S., he has a different name in France—le Roi du Crazy (the King of Crazy). The French have a deep appreciation for his style of comedy. After his death, the French culture minister Françoise Nyssen said in a New York Times article, “Jerry Lewis made us laugh, he made us happy. France, which was the country of his heart and of his success, will always dearly remember his voice, his silhouette, and his humor.” The article also states that the French “embraced Mr. Lewis’s humor as both an abstract art and social satire of American life.” If Jerry’s humor can transcend the fickle tastes of Gen Z’s, then his roi status might just be permanent. 

The Fabelmans

According to Box Office Mojo, Steven Spielberg’s semi-biographical film The Fabelmans only grossed $17 million domestically, but it earned $6.8 million in France alone—the top spot by far internationally. (The U.K. was second abroad, at $4.2 million)  French critics gave the film an unprecedented number of five-star reviews, making it their highest-rated film of the century. The Guardian reported that Le Figaro, a major news outlet in France, didn’t hold back: “What a film!” “Majestic and moving… Unforgettable.” Now we’ll have to watch it again—thanks, France!