43. Cracker Barrel: Putting the Kitsch in Kitchen

25 Jun

"Cracker Barrel" by keithlam

You’d think the novelty of nostalgia would have worn off by now, but judging from the ever-crowded parking lot, I reckon not. But then Cracker Barrel combines two of Southern women’s greatest loves: eating and shopping. Also, you can get in quite a bit of gossiping, too, depending on who you run into and how long you have to wait for a table.

I’m not going to extol the virtues of Cracker Barrel’s food, because I fail to see any. Ok, I’ll admit, they do have some good pecan pancakes that come with wee bottles of maple syrup. I know this because whenever I’d come home to visit, Mom would wake me up WAAAAY early the next day (like around 9:00) to go get some pancakes.

"Sweet Treats" by Lorianne DiSabato

What Cracker Barrel lacks in culinary skills, they make up for in kitsch. Where else are you going to find cornbread pans, patriotic clocks, wooden toys, and old-timey candy all in one place? Ok, maybe your grandmother’s house. But the candy will likely be not so much old-timey as just plain old.

"Peg Leg" by JasonChamberlain

There’s plenty to look at while you wait, and the fun doesn’t stop after you’re seated. Who’s up for a challenging round of the peg game? You know the one with a triangle-shaped piece of wood featuring pegs filled with golf tees? The object is to “jump” and remove the other tees, leaving only one tee standing. It sounds more exciting than it is. But then, maybe I’m just bitter because I’ve yet to win.

I’ve only ever been to Cracker Barrel for breakfast because from what I hear, that’s the only meal worth eating. However, I can’t imagine the food would be any worse than the short-lived “Po Folks” that we used to patronize frequently in college. Because, hey, we WERE po folks, and most anything beats Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Though I do enjoy poking around in the general store, I haven’t eaten at Cracker Barrel in the last three years. My mom loved those pancakes enough to endure breakfast with a grumpy, jetlagged daughter, and it wouldn’t feel right eating them without her.

What’s your favorite part of the Cracker Barrel experience?

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8 Responses to “43. Cracker Barrel: Putting the Kitsch in Kitchen”

  1. Jenna June 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Remember when Mom tried to convince Shawn that he needed to get the Pecan Pancakes? “But Mom,” I said, “Shawn doesn’t like Pecans.” “Well I don’t care” she replied, “they are the best thing on the menu and the only thing worth coming here for! He needs to order them.”

    Years later she again tried to convince Shawn that he really would like pecans, but the problem was that his mother never toasted them for him, “If you ate them toasted you would like them” she once told him. I don’t know how on earth Shawn has kept coming around our family…no wonder you keep Geoff away!

    PS – Shawn got take out Cracker Barrel for us the other night, and I of course got the Pecan Pancakes…

    • girloutofdixie June 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

      Yes, I mentioned mom’s philosophy in my pecan post.

      Mom also thought that “they” should let Geoff eat shrimp because shrimp is just a little bit of meat and it is so good.

  2. The Florida Blogger June 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Ya know, I’m not that big of a fan of CB. Its too crowded. I feel like I’m at a Southern bad version of Disney World. Maybe they ought to offer fast passes.

    • girloutofdixie June 29, 2010 at 12:05 am #

      yes, but if they offered fast passes, we’d never get to browse the stuffed possums (fake, thankfully) and tacky home decor!

  3. Tegan June 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Grandmother’s old candy (dusty ribbon candy) and the triangle peg game remind me of my very Yankee Grma Scott and our times together in Seekonk, MA! Some things cross the Mason-Dixon Line, I guess. 🙂 I love the idea of your mom dragging you out for pancakes, and I understand not feeling up for them yet. It was a big deal when I had my first solo Jimmie Roll Sundae at the Newport Creamery– sweet but sad.
    These posts are fantastic!

    • girloutofdixie June 29, 2010 at 12:01 am #

      yes! dusty ribbon candy! that was exactly what i was thinking of. some things are universal, i guess. i never really knew my grandmothers, but i had sort of a surrogate grandmother we called Nanny who always had a supply on hand. i’ve always had a soft spot for the stuff…

      Jimmie Roll Sundae? Do tell!

  4. DessertForTwo May 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    My Southern mama never made chicken and dumplins–the only ones I ever knew was Cracker Barrel’s, so I like it!

    • Kim Holloway May 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

      In my Google quest for finding a good C&D recipe, I’ve run across lots of folks who swear by the ones at Cracker Barrel. I do not, however, recommend the kind they sell in a can, if they still do.

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