The TDC Opinion Research survey was designed to probe American attitudes towards the small European nation, which the U.S. will face in the World Cup tournament next Tuesday.
The poll first asked respondents if Belgium was a company that makes beer, a country in Europe or neither: 63% responded that Belgium was a beer company, 28% replied that Belgium was a country and 9% said neither.
“We were really shocked by the findings,” says Ted Baxter, the lead pollster on the project. “Americans have never been very good with geography. Perhaps because they live in a very large country with few borders.
“So we expected that nobody would find Belgium on a map. But for a majority to think it wasn’t even a country? That was jaw-dropping.”
Belgium is a small nation of 11 million people located between France, the Netherlands, and Germany. Divided between Flemish and French speaking communities, the country is known for comic books, chocolate and for hosting the headquarters of the European Union.
Perhaps its greatest claim to fame internationally, however, is the high quality of Belgian beers. From its famous monk-brewed Trappists to its unique spontaneously fermented lambics, the country offers a diverse range of brews highly prized by international connoisseurs.
It is that reputation that has apparently caused confusion and led Americans to mistake the entire country for a brewery.
“I realize there are different companies that make Belgian-style beers,” says college professor Jason Anderson, who took part in the survey. “So I thought Belgium was like the company that designs beer recipes and sells them to the beer manufacturers.
“You know kinda like how different companies like Samsung and HTC all make Android-style phones.”
The same confusion also reigns in Brazil. Chas Black, an American fan who came to cheer on his team claims he was shocked to see his favorite beer company in the tournament.
“I heard Belgium was at the World Cup, but I thought maybe they were like an official sponsor or something,” he says. “I didn’t realize they actually had a team. That’s crazy.
“It doesn’t matter though. We’re still gonna kick their asses. USA all the way baby.”