Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moon Pie and a RC Cola

I don't know where I first heard of this very Southern combination.  I think it may have been at Bob Baumhower's Wings Restaurant  where they had a Blue Collar Combo on the menu.  It consisted of one wing, a Moon Pie and an RC Cola.   (For those that don't know RC stands for Royal Crown).

In my limited research I found out that some miners wanted something filling for a snack as they didn't get time for a proper lunch break; Mr. Earl Mitchell, Sr., a bakery salesman, took the challenge.  At the time the workers had taken to dipping graham crackers into jars of marshmallow fluff they could buy in the company store.   Mr. Mitchell took this idea and ran with it.  It became known as the workingman's lunch.  for 10 cents the worker could get a Moon Pie (the biggest snack on the rack) and a 10oz. RC Cola.  A Southern classic was born.

They are still made in Chattanooga, Tennessee and have a web presence at MoonPie.com and even a Facebook Fan Page.  You can actually buy the shirt to the left and it's definitely on my birthday short list this year.

If you've ever been to a Gulf Coast Mardi Gras you've no doubt caught a mini Moon Pie.  In the 70's parade floats used to use Cracker Jack's as throws but the sharp corners of the box became problematic and they looked for a softer snack and Moon Pie stepped in to fill that need.

I can't find RC Cola, though I used to drink it pretty regularly back in the day.  You can buy it from the Moon Pie shop in tubs, baskets and boxes for nostalgic friends and family members.

I still get a hankering for a Moon Pie now and then and it has to be chocolate or a banana. What's your favorite RC and Moon Pie memory, or your favorite Moon Pie product?  Let us know in the comments!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Southern Word of the Week - I swannee

(inj.) Well, I swanee, I cannot believe he said that to you!
(inj.) I swannee, I didn't expect to see you here.

My dad used to say it to convey surprise.  I think he mostly did it in jest as most people don't say it anymore, but I'm sure his grandmother did use it sincerely.  It's almost disappeared except in old timers and people who talk about the Southern dialect.

The small amount of research I did suggested that swanee was short for swear, but being good Southern Christians they didn't want to say swear.  "You aren't supposed to swear," is what I was always told by little brothers and sisters of my friends because that's what their Maw Maw's had always told them.

Did you hear someone say this and get thrown a curve ball?  Do you or someone you know still use this saying?  Let us know in the comments.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras!

Carnival, Fat Tuesday whatever you call it today is MARDI GRAS!  The day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, folks let down their hair and binge on the stuff they're supposed to give up for the next 40 days and nights.  For most its just a hedonistic reason to go out and do what you wouldn't normally do.

Most people know that New Orleans is the home of Mardi Gras in the U.S., but Mobile, Alabama actually has the oldest organized Mardi Gras celebration.  It's now celebrated in Biloxi, Galveston, all over different cities in Louisiana and many other Southern and non-Southern cities.

Parties, balls and parades are held; doubloons, beads, cups, Moon Pies are thrown, and much alcohol is usually consumed.

Another tradition of Mardi Gras is the King Cake.  A large ring of a coffee cake/cinnamon roll type of pastry filled with anything from spices and nuts to cream cheese.  It is usually iced and sprinkled with 3 different colored sugars: Purple for the Passion of Christ (justice); Green for hope (faith); and Gold for the treasures of leading a Christian life (power).  Traditionally a trinket or more recently a plastic baby was hidden in the cake and whoever had a piece with the trinket in it was king or queen for the day; but also had to buy the next King Cake or host the next party.

Of course in our fine country of lawsuit happy people plastic babies are now not usually supplied by bakers; if they are they don't insert it into the cake.  The last few I had were baked with a whole pecan to represent the baby/trinket.

So what are you giving up for Lent?  You don't have to be Catholic, we could probably all use a little mortification now and then.  Think of it as a good reason to pick up the New Year's Resolution you gave up about a month ago (more exercise, fewer cokes, reading more).  If you aren't giving anything up, let us know your favorite hangover cure in the comments.  Also, please let us know your family Mardi Gras traditions.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Regional Tastes - Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale

Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale is a Golden Ginger Ale which is darker in color and much stronger in flavor compared to dry ginger ale (Canada Dry, Schweppes, etc.).  It was created and has been in production in some way-shape-or form since 1901!  I know it is distributed in Birmingham by the Buffalo Rock company, but I have know idea of the brands reach in the Southeast.  

I really have just found a taste and liking for it lately, but know people who's grandmaw's swore by it.  Any time they had a stomach ache or felt bad, Buffalo Rock came to the rescue.  I also know many Otherners and locals who have tasted it and thought it was too much ginger for their tastes.  I have to admit that the first few times I tried it I coughed from inhaling too much before the first swig.

I think I developed a taste for it because of my very British grandmother that ate candied ginger and loved ginger beer (which hasn't got a lick of alcohol in it by the way).

So what's your regional taste?  Got a drink, snack, or dish that is very specific to your region?  Shoot me an email (Drew [at] Okra Cola (dot) com) and we may have you do a guest post on it.

Do you have a Buffalo Rock story?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day!

I love the movie Groundhog Day.  It's one of those movies I can't pass over when I'm channel surfing.  What's sad amazing, is that most of that stuff in the movie (speaking to humans in goundhogese, there only being one Punxsutawney Phil since the 1800's, etc.) is true! 

Here are two Southern groundhogs:
Birmingham Bill lives at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Alabama and does make an annual appearance.   You can join at the Wildlife stage starting at. 10am on Tuesday, February 2.  Just for reference, the festivities in Punxsutawney, PA begin at 3am ET!  Phil doesn't even prognosticate until 7:25am ET.

General Beauregard Lee, Ph.D. is the official weather prognosticating groundhog in Georgia and makes his home at the Yellow River Game Ranch.  He is scheduled to make his official announcement at 6am CT.  He is reported to be the first groundhog to make his announcement via Twitter.

As an FYI Punxsutawney Phil will have a webcast tomorrow morning.  Click the link and pick your view.  You can also have him text you his prediction.  More here.

Picture from BirminghamZoo.com

Do you know of more Southern groundhogs?  Tell us about 'em in the comments.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Driving in the South

I'm not really talking about driving in Atlanta or Nashville, I'm really talking about driving in the rural Southern U.S.  down here things are different.  People give you directions like, "It's up yonder a piece" or "you drive 'till you get to where the old high school was, then turn left."  Some times it's just assumed that you know where somethings used to be.

Then there's the horn.  When you drive in the rural South and hear a horn in traffic it's usually a bad thing.  I've been to New York where a car horn can mean come on and merge in, hold on, or to make known to one driver that another driver is still there so you don't back into him.  It isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can be.

I had a friend that was originally from Pennsylvania that was actually told once, "you can't get there from here."  That sounds like a oxymoron, because you can get from any place to any other place.  Like so many other sayings in the South it isn't literal, its just an expression.  It can be hard to get from one place to another, even in one town.  Once on the railroad tracks by my house a train had been stopped for hours and to get to high school I had to go way around it.  It felt like I couldn't get there from where I was because it was the long way around.

Do you have Southern driving/direction stories?  Share them in the comments.

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