A foreign friend who lives in the US flagged “double dipping” to me as an American habit. Or rather, an American fear.
Because I’m sure people everywhere in the world “double dip” – i.e. take your chip/carrot, dip it into a communal salsa/sauce bowl, eat a bite, and then dip the bitten chip/carrot back into the communal dip (supposedly along with all your saliva, bacteria, and cooties).
But Americans are particularly paranoid and/or grossed out about it. Americans are sticklers for hygiene. Double dipping was the subject of a Seinfeld episode and is an American social faux pas. The etiquette suggests that if you can’t stop yourself from double dipping (you filthy, uncouth slob), then you should at least reverse the chip/carrot so the unbitten side touches the dip on the second go.
Other double dipping avoidance strategies (which I read about in article entitled “Defend Against Double-Dipping at Your Super Bowl Party”) are to serve guests individually packaged chips and dip, or to set out individual bowls so guests can double-dip from their own bowl, germ free.
If only these people knew that in many cultures – including several of the countries I visited in African and the Middle East – people eat food communally from a shared plate or bowl, with their bare hands. Now that is double dipping taken to the next level. Oh, the horror.