American things you can't buy in the UK

What American items aren’t available in the UK?

Greetings from the US, my Sunny in London friends! As I spend a little time visiting with my family, I’m also stocking up on the American items that aren’t available in the UK. I’ll have “fingers crossed” as I go through Customs, hoping that these items crammed in my luggage don’t cause them to pass too much judgment on me.


During my first gym experience at an LA Fitness in London, I really struggled with the different machines and free weight sizes. At one point, a personal trainer introduced himself and asked if he could help.

“Yikes! Is it that obvious I’m not from here? I’m so confused about out how many kilograms equal a pound,” I replied.

Through our conversation, I learned that I hadn’t done anything wrong or odd during my workout, but my bright turquoise sneakers were a flashy sign that I was from America.

Prior to moving across the pond, I was advised to stock up on Adidas (pronounced “Ahhhhhh-dee-dahhhs”, not “A-dee-diss”) because they’re so expensive in London, but I didn’t realize the colours I would buy in America wouldn’t be available in the UK.

Things you cant't buy in the UK


Yes, I said Comet. On my first trip to Sainsbury’s to purchase basic necessities for my flat, I was not prepared for the lack of product options in the cleaning aisle. NOT ONE was familiar to me. I faced names like “Cillit Bang” and “Fairy Washing Up Liquid.” No Soft Scrub, Lysol or Pledge.

So, if I could bring just one item that is cheap, serves many functions and will transport fairly easily, I choose a can of Comet.

Fairy Liquid Advert

And by the way, I really enjoy that “Fairy” liquid for doing dishes, but can’t seem to get the actual fairy to arrive and do them for me. Londoners, any ideas?

Things you can't buy in the UK


There’s quite a list of food ingredients we eat in the US that are banned in the UK.

You probably don’t have to do any research to guess why Velveeta “cheese” ranks high as a forbidden commodity. For my Sunny in London British friends, I can explain it as an imitation cheese that ranks somewhere between an oil and a solid substance, hence the reason it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened. HA! Appetising innit? Should I bring some for you?

Even though it pales in comparison to the delicious fresh cheese selections in Europe, I still miss it sometimes.

Things you can't buy in the UK


Perhaps the item I miss every day is a large coffee. Like Big Gulp size, if you know what I mean!

I’ve tried Costa, Pret and Caffé Nero, plus dozens of independent coffee shops. Still, I come up empty handed. Well, one of them is empty. Londoners, where I can buy a single serving of coffee that needs two hands to carry and is big enough to have its own post code?

That’s my list of items for this trip. (Be assured I’ll drink the coffee, not pack it!)

I didn’t include the scented candles which aren’t available in London because I already have a whole post devoted to that and made my pilgrimage to Bath and Body Works for their post-holiday sale yesterday. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to fit these items in to my luggage.


Expats, what items did I miss that you bring from your home country?

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  1. This post is so very familiar to me! I’m a Brit who left at 7 years old, moved to France then the US and now lives in Stockholm, so I spend my life stocking up on stuff I was addicted to in one country and bringing it back to another country! I was a teenager when we moved from Connecticut to London, and I remember being gutted I couldn’t find Noxema skin cream in the UK. Bear in mind there are a few products that might look different, but are basically the same thing – you’ll definitely find Pledge in Sainsburys! (now if only I could find it in Stockholm)

  2. Kate and Claire, thank you for taking the time to read. I’m actually returning to London tomorrow after an extended stay over the holidays in the States. My suitcases are bursting! Kate, no Velveeta or Kraft. I stocked up while here though. Claire, thank you for the Pledge tip!

  3. Wow haha I’d stand out in a London gym then too I think – I really like the bright neon runners! And huh I did NOT know there was an LA Fitness in London or anywhere outside the States haha cool!

    1. Thank you for reading, Cachoo! Yes, LA Fitness is quite popular here. They’re very different in London, but they’re still great gyms.

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