Revealed: Iconic ‘American’ Products That Aren’t Actually Made in the U.S.
President Donald Trump’s recent push to bring jobs and companies back to America has caused quite a stir — especially because many of his personal business goods are outsourced overseas. Regardless, a few companies, such as Under Armor and Samsonite, have recently vowed to commit to manufacturing products that are truly made in America.
Most Americans — 70% — consider it important to buy U.S.-made products. Despite that sentiment, 37% said they would refuse to pay more for American-made goods versus cheaper imports. Consumers like to outwardly punish companies who manufacture products overseas, yet balk at a higher markup for a tag that’s stitched with a “Made in America” emblem. So companies continue to vie for people’s buying loyalty all while enduring a balancing act between patriotism and profits.
For some companies, money talks. No amount of American-themed beer cans or highly targeted ads can hide the fact that many iconic American brands have switched to outsourcing their goods in exchange for cheap labor. Let’s take a look at 15 brands that might ooze red, white, and blue but are actually made outside U.S. borders.
1. Rawlings baseballs
Beer, brats, and a solid nine innings of good, wholesome competition: The game of baseball is pure American. The ball, however, is a different story. The only factory authorized to supply Major League Baseball is in the town of Terriaba in central Costa Rica. Rawlings Sporting Goods has an exclusive contract with the MLB, and once each ball receives its 108 stitches, the baseballs are sent to Miami and transported all across the country.
Next: The most popular truck in the country
2. Ford F-150
Ford is synonymous with the Motor City of Detroit and is quintessentially American. In fact, a recent Cars.com survey showed that the F-150 is a vehicle most likely to be assumed as “American” by the public. But only 60% of parts are actually made in America. The rest is outsourced to places, such as Mexico and Canada.
Is there any 100% American-made car? Not really. The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee top the list for the most American cars of 2017. About 74% of Wrangler and 70% of Cherokee parts are domestic, according to Cars.com. All engines and nearly all transmissions for the Wrangler and Cherokee hail from the U.S.
Next: A toy we all had as kids
3. Barbie dolls
Iconic Barbie dolls swept the nation, making Ken and Barbie a picture-perfect American couple. However, these dolls were made virtually everywhere but the United States. Mattel manufactures most of its products overseas. During the 1960s and early ’70s they were made in Japan. After that, they were made in Hong Kong and Mexico.
Collectors have learned to use the “made in” sticker to determine whether they have a vintage doll. What does a vintage Barbie run? The first Barbie doll sold for $27,450 at an auction, according to Good Housekeeping.
Next: The King of Beers sold its soul.
Clydesdales and red, white, and blue-themed cans send a poignant message that Budweiser is American to the last sip. But the brewery with German roots is now owned by Belgium company InBev. It bought the brand from Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion back in 2008 in an effort to make the brew more marketable globally.
Next: Our greatest American symbol is not made in America.
5. American flags
All signs point to money when we consider why most American flags are produced in China. Flags made in China cost significantly less than ones produced in here at home. An estimated $3.3 million worth of American flags are imported from Beijing each year. Legislation was since passed banning the U.S. military from purchasing flags not made in America.
Next: Denim just screams America, right?
It’s highly unlikely we see a “Made in America” tag on any denim jean nowadays. Levi’s jeans are seemingly as American as apple pie — but only in our minds. Its headquarters is in San Francisco, but the jeans are actually made Asia, Latin America, and Haiti. Only one style is made in Texas from fabric in North Carolina
Next: Chuck Taylors
Converse Chuck Taylors were once the go-to basketball shoe for players in the 1960’s and ’70s. Even celebrities, such as Kurt Cobain, The Rolling Stones, and Olympic athletes, sported Chucks in their day. But as other, more high-tech shoes hit the market, Converse lost its stronghold. Its American manufacturing reputation quickly followed suit. It went bankrupt in 2001 and was bought by Nike in 2003, which promptly switched all production to Indonesia.
Next: Were you the thimble or the iron?
8. Monopoly pieces
You haven’t really lived until you’ve endured an endless game of Monopoly with your relatives. And what better way to learn about capitalism than to finagle a way to invest in Marvin Gardens, Park Place, and St. James Place? However, most of the iconic game pieces are made in Ireland, according to The Street.
Next: Craftsman and Sears
9. Craftsman tools
Craftsman Tools and Sears faced a class-action lawsuit in 2004 for wrongly labeling products as “Made in the USA” and attempting to sway American buyers with a patriotic purchase. In reality, many of Craftsman’s metal parts were made in China, Austria, and Denmark. The Federal Trade Commission prohibits using such a claim unless all of the product is American made.
Next: Guitars used by legends are not made in America.
10. Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster is an iconic guitar made even more famous by American rock legends, such as Buddy Holly, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer. Although Fender still does craft an American-made version, the standard — and therefore cheaper — version is made in Mexico. The standard version starts at a paltry $599, whereas the American Elite nears $2,000.
Next: A luggage company that started small in Denver
11. Samsonite Luggage
What started as a brick-and-mortar retail business in Denver was transitioned to Hong Kong after a profit slip in the 2000s. Most Samsonite suitcases hail from Europe, India, China, and Vietnam now that it left the U.S. But Samsonite is the world largest luggage retailer, and 40% of its business comes from the U.S. Its recent purchase of American suitcase manufacturer, Tumi, could mean it’s gearing up to bring work back to the States to compete in the ever-growing e-commerce realm.
Next: The company that invented portable electric drills
12. Black & Decker
The portable electric drill was invented by Black & Decker in its Baltimore machine shop in 1917. While some activity still occurs in Baltimore and North America, most of its manufacturing is done in China. Things could come full circle, however. Earlier this year, Stanley Black & Decker announced plans to move more manufacturing back to the U.S. from overseas after acquiring Craftsman from Sears.
Next: Polo Ralph Lauren comes under fire.
13. Olympic Uniforms
Business mogul Ralph Lauren caught a lot of flak after rumors circulated regarding his 2012 Team U.S.A. Olympic uniforms. Apparently, the iconic U.S uniforms were made in China — much like all of Polo Ralph Lauren products are. Still, the U.S. Olympic committee stood by the sponsorship deal with Polo Ralph Lauren as they took heat for outsourcing an opportunity to highlight American companies and their workers, calling Ralph Lauren “an iconic American company.”
Next: The Christmas spirit is in China.
14. Christmas lights
Yiwu is a small city in China that produces 60% of the world’s Christmas decorations. There are 600 factories in this town that make the LED lights, Santa hats, and tinsel people display in their homes every December. Thus, the majority of your Christmas decorations probably aren’t made in America.
15. Beats Electronics
Beats Electronics is known for stylish headphones and speakers. Founded by rapper Dr. Dre, it’s headquartered in California but was bought by Apple in 2014. Just like many others on this list, the electronics are mostly manufactured overseas for cost efficiency. Beats headphones are priced at around $200, but when you break it down the product only costs about $20 to make.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer