Coconuts vs. Peaches: Social Differences Between Germans and Americans

“Either way, we’re all pretty gross.” — (Image Credits: Coconut Image by Hafiz Issadeen [] and Peach Image by liz west [] — Both Subject CC 2.0 License.)
Last night, The Wife explained to me how Germans and Americans differ in the way they interact with strangers. She said, “Germans are like coconuts and Americans are like peaches.” I thought this was pretty clever, so I immediately stopped listening in order to concentrate on my own thoughts.

From what I’ve gathered, Germans come off a bit cold; hard on the outside, like a coconut, and lacking that assumed social warmth to which Americans are accustomed. Germans tend not to fawn over strangers or go out of their way to impress them, so don’t expect Frau Säddlebags over there to perform a joyous Slap Dance when you ask her to take your picture in front of the Brandenburger Tor; her bunions hurt and she’s late for her favorite soap opera, Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten.

However, get to know Frau Säddlebags and you would likely find beneath her gruff, coconut exterior lies a soft, sweet center; a combination of generosity and loyalty reserved for true friends and family members. You would also find a disgusting, milky white fluid high in saturated fat.

Americans, on the other hand, tend to be warm; intensely sweet, like a peach, and overly accommodating when interacting with strangers. We exaggerate social protocols in order to leave the most favorable first impression upon people, so don’t be surprised when you ask Mrs. Fried Chickenthighs to take your picture in front of the Statue of Liberty and she has a stroke trying to help you out. “Oh my God, I would love to take your picture! Just stand right there you guys — OH, what a cute couple! Where did y’all say you were from again? Aaaaaaand, CHEEEEEEESE!”

However, get to know Mrs. Chickenthighs and you would likely find beneath her sugary, peach exterior lies a cold, hard pit; a combination of gossip and paranoia reserved for her closest friends and family members.

And just to summarize — yes, I am American, though I am not a peach at all. I am a peanut; two salty nuts with a talent for sending small children into anaphylactic shock.


21 thoughts

  1. Wow, this is certainly the most extensive version of this analogy I have ever read (although I’ve usually hear banana vs. peach, rather than coconut). Congratulations on your insights regarding the cyanide in the peach pit!


  2. Interesting comparison. I haven’t been to Germany yet but from what I’ve heard the coconut comparison seems to be accurate and I can totally agree on the Americans being peaches. It always amazes me that many people here go out of their way for strangers but are cold to the ones who know them best, and you would think it would be the other way around. Reminds me of a Jeffrey McDaniel poem “The Mirror in Which I’ll be Judged” which ends “…I know it’s so much easier
    to be charming to a busboy than kind to the person you love.”


  3. Great analogy about the coconuts and peaches. You both hit it on the nail. But I must disagree that not all German are cold. I think they are just stern and rather get to know someone first before breaking loose all their emotions, lol.

    I had to smile though when you use the camera example. Because your right on point!


  4. I’ve been telling my German for months what I’ve been reading about Customer Service in Germany. He adamantly disagreed and said, “People are so nice. They have to be or they’ll lose their jobs!” He was completely offended that anybody would think otherwise. But then he made his first trip to America on May 20th…

    Now we’re married and in Germany permanently and he continues to marvel to his friends about the amazing kindness shown to him by total strangers. As we left our hotel restaurant one morning he said, “I can’t believe the waitress told us to have a nice day! Nobody would take the time to do that in Germany! Everyone is so nice here!!!” Score 1 for America. =)


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