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27th Oct 2023

Americans thought things in Harry Potter were magic but they were actually just British

Charlie Herbert

‘I though treacle tarts were some kind of cake that looked like an octopus’

As kids, many of us will have been left in awe and wonder about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, whether that’s from reading the books or watching the films.

But I think we’d all be pretty confident in knowing where the line between reality and fiction was drawn.

Well, it turns out that some real-world British things are so weird to the outside world that Americans thought they were fictional, magical things that only exist in the world of fiction.

Weird and wonderful things such as treacle tart, school houses and punting.

The discussion was prompted on Reddit after one user asked: “Non-British readers, what’s something from the books you thought was magical but turned out to be just British?”

Here are some of the highlights.

Treacle tart

First up, treacle tart. Yes, more than one person responded in the thread to admit that they thought the classic British pudding was magic.

The pud gets several mentions in the books as it is one of Harry’s favourites.

One person admitted that they thought treacle tart was in the same magical category as “butterbeer and chocolate frogs.”

Even more bizarrely, someone commented that they thought it was a “cake that looked like an octopus or squid.”

School houses

In fairness, there is plenty that is weird about British schools when you think about it. Assemblies, form time, uniforms.

And it turns out, to Americans, the concept of school houses.


I can sort of see how this confusion has come about. In American Football, a punt is where you kick the ball away, so if you weren’t familiar with the peaceful mode of canal transport, Filch punting Fred and George across a swamp suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

Christmas crackers

Things are getting silly now, but yes, it seems that Christmas crackers are so fantastical that some Americans thought they could only be a figment of the imagination.

One Redditor admitted they were magical food items, and concluded that when the books spoke of stuff being inside them the characters must have been pulling “novelty-filled giant cheezits.”

Pumpkin juice

It seems the confusion works both ways though. British cuisine is such a mystery to Americans that some of them thought pumpkin juice was a real-world beverage.

We could be here for hours collating these, because the Reddit thread really is the gift that keeps on giving.

So here are some of the other highlights from the thread:

Who knew that British things were considered so magical, hey?

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