Tag Archives: shopping

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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32. Walmart: Save Money. Live Better?

29 Mar

Photo by "el neato"
Flickr Creative Commons

You know you’re Southern if the directions to two or more of your kinfolks’ houses include the phrase “turn right at the Walmart.” Extra points if you’ve ever used the word “kinfolks.”

For Southerners, Walmart (or “Wally World” as it’s known to fans of National Lampoon’s vacation) isn’t just a place to score “everyday low prices” on toilet paper, big screen tvs, or whatnot. Oh no. It’s where folks go to socialize. You never know who might turn up at the local Walmart on a Sunday evening. And if you’re not there to take part in the gossip, well, one guess who the gossiping’s going to be about.

The odd thing about the Walmart social scene (aside from the fact that it takes place in Walmart) is that even though folks know they will run into their friends/enemies/rivals/relations, there’s no pressure to dress up. At all. Curlers in hair? Why not? Mud-encrusted boots? Come on in! Pizza and beer-stained wife beater? Who cares? If you’ve ever been to Walmart, you know I speak the truth. And if you haven’t witnessed these crimes of fashion firsthand, consider this exhibit A through Z: People of Walmart.

Walmart has tried hard to cultivate this whole “Walmart Family” image, but, folks, the store is not actually your house. You might want to change out of your pajamas before running in to get the kids’ OJ and Jimmy Dean Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick.

Photo by Adam Kuban
Flickr Creative Commons

I think Walmart must pipe some kind of crack-like substance into their air filtration system and Southern folks simply cannot “Just Say No.” How else can you explain their need to visit Every Single Day? And not just once a day. I reckon twice a day is about average. Which I admit is pure speculation based on how frequently my dad goes. Hey, I never claimed to be scientific.

I imagine Walmart has become the hub of many a Southern town because…well, hell, because Walmart practically IS a Southern town. You’ve got your optician, your hardware store, your pharmacy, your photo center…groceries, clothes, furniture, housewares, firearms, fishing supplies…restaurants…video rentals…“jewelry.” If the Waltons could figure out how to incorporate a church into the mix, folks would NEVER have to leave. And as a bonus, customers might step it up in the wardrobe department. Nobody wears curlers in the house of the Lord.

How often do you frequent your local Walmart? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever encountered there?

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