Back in those days -- 2000 and 2001, when I first lived in Iran as a journalist -- Iranians were looking on jealously as U.S. soldiers removed the Taliban from power in neighboring Afghanistan; it was a moment when the United States competed with soccer for popularity. You could not buy a newspaper or ride a taxi without hearing the plaintive question: "When will Americans come to rescue us?"
Iranians romanticized the United States as a benevolent power at that time, and they were besotted with tokens of American popular culture. Young couples who could not even speak English celebrated Valentine's Day; U.S.-style fast-food places served hamburgers and shakes to endless lines; Barbie(smuggled in from Dubai despite the U.S. embargo) became the most coveted birthday gift of Iranian girls, and authentic Coke was the preferred beverage of Iranians under 30.
Bear in mind that in 2002, young Arabs in cities such as Cairo were burning down Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and boycotting U.S. products in anger at American support for Israel, yet a poll conducted in 2001 found that 74% of Iranians supported restoring ties with the United States.