Research Outline

Influence of Ethnic Communities on Middle America


To understand how the culture of ethnic communities in the middle America states influences those states. Food should be prioritized but other aspects of culture including art and music should also be considered. This is research to inform conceptual thinking for a client project. An ideal response would incorporate examples of ethnic communities that have positively influenced the cultural development of food in the Middle American states. The target market more specifically is 'Middle America', the middle and upper-middle socioeconomic groups of Americans that reside in the central, Midwestern and Southern states of the USA.

Early Findings

Ethnic Groups

  • The largest ethnic groups in the Midwest are German 26.6%, Irish 11.8%, English 8.4%, African American 7.8%, and American 6.5% based in the census.
  • Ethnic communities in the central states include German, Irish, Italian, English, Czech, Greek, Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Guatemalan.
  • There is a strong Hispanic and African American ethnic presence in the south.
  • Based on this, ethnicities to consider include German, Irish, Italian, English, Greek, Eastern European (Czech, Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, and Ukrainian), Hispanic (Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Guatemalan), and African American.

German Cultural Influences on Middle America

  • German culinary establishments are generally of a high standard but are becoming harder to find, even in cities with a strong German population base like Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.
  • The hamburger, frankfurter, sausage, and cured meats have all been influenced by German culture. Popular American foods of German origin include sauerkraut, knackwurst (knockwurst), leberwurst (liverwurst), and bratwurst. The majority of Americans are comfortable using these terms, not just those of German origin.
  • Other foods have their origin in German culture, although the German name may not have been retained. These foods include Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal or pork cutlets), Roulade (roll 'em up), Knödel (dumpling), Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cake), Berliner Pfannkuchen (type of donut), and Kartoffel Salat (German potato salad).
  • One of the reasons that the use of traditional names has decreased stems from the war years when there was an anti-German feeling. Sauerkraut, for example, became known as liberty cabbage.


  • We have spent our initial hour of research determining the ethnicity of the states that are of interest. The break down of ethnicity varies significantly from state to state. Once we had identified the relevant cultures, we began investigating each in detail.
  • While there is a considerable amount of information available on this topic, it is not necessarily related back to the middle and upper classes. Information on a state level is not typically broken down beyond that into class.
  • We suggest continuing our analysis of how the cultures we have identified have influenced middle America.