Tag Archives: southern traditions

60. Groom’s Cakes (Even the Ones in Poor Taste Still Taste Good)

20 Jan

Bee-u-ti-ful groom's cake
by maggie valley club

I just recently found out that groom’s cakes are a Southern thing. Here’s how it happened:

Me: What kind of groom’s cake are y’all having?

Bride, groom and everybody at the engagement party table: Huh?

What? People get married without a groom’s cake? Seriously? The bride gets the venue she wants, the flowers she wants, the music she wants, the photographer (and the 18 million pictures) she wants, the wedding cake she wants, and so on, and the groom can’t even get a lousy chocolate sheet cake?

C’mon people!

Supposedly, in the tradition’s early days, the groom’s cake wasn’t eaten at the wedding. Slices were packaged and sent home with single girls who would put them under their pillows to induce dreams of their future husbands. Right. Like a Southern single lady with post-wedding blues is going to let a perfectly good slice of cake go to waste? Never gonna happen.

These days, the cakes are tailored toward the grooms tastes and/or interests. I’ve never actually witnessed first hand a cake shaped like a Lazy Boy recliner, TV remote, or bottle of Jack Daniels, but surely they exist. As far as flavors go, well, they don’t go far: nearly every groom’s cake I’ve encountered was chocolate.

Steel Magnolias: The movie that launched
a thousand red velvet armadillos

“Steel Magnolias” features the beat-all, end-all groom’s cake: an armadillo-shaped confection featuring a red velvet interior. Yum!

I think the groom’s cake is an excellent addition to any wedding reception (but then my motto is “the more cake, the merrier”). However, clearly, not all grooms ought to have free reign at the bakery, as evidenced by the ill-conceived collection posted on cakewrecks.com.

Did you have a groom’s cake at your wedding? What kind?

57. Western Wear (Boots, Bolos, and Beyond)

16 Jan

The Holloway ladies: rocking the Urban Cowboy look.

I am a sucker for a man in a western shirt. Although, I must admit that I prefer a guy who wears said shirt ironically. He’s a few steps beyond the “all hat and no cattle” types. More like “no hat, no cattle.”

During the blessedly short-lived Urban Cowboy phase, I had it all: hat, western shirt, Wranglers, belt, boots. Only thing missing was a lasso and possibly some spurs. Today, if you checked my closet – once you got past the stampede of dust bunnies, store receipts, and discarded tags – you’d find one imitation western shirt, three cowboy hats (two pink, one purple) and four pairs of cowboy boots (if you count Frye harness boots, which I do).

Dior "cowboy" boots,
a bargain at $1032!

As most Southerners know, a little western wear goes a long way. Boots and Wranglers? Yes. Just don’t go adding the hat, bolo tie, gi-normous belt buckle and fancy embroidered shirt unless you’re actually participating in a rodeo or perhaps a strip club act. And ladies, please refrain from wearing shirts declaring your status as “rodeo queen” in rhinestones. That’s just tacky on a number of levels.

If you plan to sport western wear, try not to look like you just walked out of the dressing room of your local Cowboys R Us. At least one or two of your items needs to appear lived in (and not in that pre-distressed Old Navy sort of way). If you don’t have time to wear in (or out) your gear, try shopping at Goodwill.

This probably goes without saying (but when has that ever stopped me?): don’t go around sporting designer cowboy duds like a diamond-encrusted bolo tie or these Christian Dior “cowboy” boots. That’s a good way to get yourself mugged or worse…mocked.

Do you regularly sport western wear? What’s your favorite accessory?

54. Yard Dogs, Not Pampered Pocket Pets

12 Jan

by Madame Meow, Flickr Creative Commons

When I was growing up, dogs were allowed in the house only: A. During inclement weather which involved either below-freezing temperatures or tornado warnings and B. When they were giving birth. That’s it. For roughly 358 days a year, the dogs stayed in the yard. Not necessarily in the fenced-in area of the yard, but still: In The Yard.

I’m not going to say that all Southern folks ban their canines from the house. For the last seven years or so, even my dad has let dogs have the run of the place. Actually, most of what I have to say about Southerners and dogs no longer pertains to my dad. His little dog “Happy” has managed to earn the status of favorite child. Probably because he’s never wrecked a car or asked for money.

But many Southerners treat dogs like…well, dogs. Whereas folks here in Seattle tend to treat dogs like family. Better actually. It’s not like you’re going to catch someone carrying a plastic baggie of their brother’s poop.

Here are a few cultural differences: Southern people generally don’t take dogs on vacation. They don’t take dogs shopping. They don’t take dogs to restaurants. And I’d venture to guess many Southerners have never even heard of doggie day care.

If you attend an outdoor festival in the South, you’ll see plenty of debris on the ground: beer cups, food wrappers, cigarette butts, caramel apple cores, what have you. What you won’t find is dog poop. The dog poop stays where it belongs: in the yard. With the dog.

Me & the world's best dog... RIP Wink.

Ok, I admit, I enjoy walking through a festival without stepping around (or worse, IN) other people’s garbage. And I do appreciate that folks here generally clean up after their pets in public. But couldn’t I just once go from one booth to the next without tripping over a leash? Does your dog really like craft items/concerts/the smell of patchouli that much? Wouldn’t it rather be at home chewing your shoes?

Once I went to a huge indoor antique show whose promoters felt the need to mention that “dogs are no longer allowed inside the Showplex.” I don’t know what disturbed me more: that they once WERE or that some people snuck them in anyway.

I don’t want to come off as an evil dog hater. I actually like most dogs, in the same way that I like most children: when they are at home and well behaved.

What do y’all think? Should a dog be something folks don’t leave home without?

51. College Football–Win, Lose or Drawl

4 Nov

By Roger Smith: Flickr Creative Commons

Sure, Southern folks were elated when the Saints won the Superbowl this year, as evidenced by the number of times the phrase “Who Dat?” appeared on my Facebook page the next day. But generally, Southern folks are way more passionate about college football, as if it were Angelina Jolie and the NFL were, say, Aunt Bee.

Almost everybody has a favorite team. Forget the “Beatles or Rolling Stones?” icebreaker. Get conversation flowing for hours with a simple “Ole Miss or State?” I use the term “conversation” loosely, of course.

An allegiance to a college football team isn’t tied to where one graduated. It starts way earlier than that. Often, in the womb. You’re an Ole Miss fan because your daddy is an Ole Miss fan. Your daddy’s an Ole Miss fan because his daddy was, and so on.

my nephew, jackson, was a tiny tiger's fan

Apparently, he's switched teams.

It may be blasphemy to confess that I couldn’t care less about college football (or any other kind, except “Friday Night Lights.” “Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose!”) However, I must admit that this wasn’t always the case. Back in third grade, I was a diehard MS State fan, if only for fashion/romantic reasons. See, there was this jacket. Lots of kids in my class had them, including the boy I liked. Who was, of course, the boy EVERYbody liked. It was a silky, maroon, letterman-style jacket with “Mississippi State” silkscreened in white on the back. I just HAD to have one. Be careful what you wish for – or what you ask your parents for.

The jacket I wound up with was a burgundy (even then I knew the difference) windbreaker with the words “Mississippi State” in white iron-on letters on the back. Or was it “Miss. State”? Oh, well. I still wore the jacket to school with all the pride I could muster. Till fourth grade came around, and I moved on to another boy – and, hopefully, more attractive outerwear.

Why is college football so popular in the South? Is it just the tailgating or what?

50. Drive-thru Beer Barns–Libations for Lazy Folks

4 Nov

What? You thought burgers, tacos and donuts had the drive-thru market cornered? Oh no. They can’t compete with kegs, cigarettes and wine coolers. Not in the South anyway.

I can’t say how the drive-thru beer barn got started, but I suspect it was the brainchild of someone whose six-year-old flat out refused to go into the tote-sum for momma’s Marlboro Lights. See, if I was making a list of Stuff Southern People DON’T Like, number four would be “Getting Out of the Car” (or more likely, the truck).

A beer barn isn’t necessarily in an actual barn, but “beer building” just doesn’t sound festive at all. The cool thing about beer barns is that minors are allowed in. Craving a bag of pork rinds and a coke? Need a pack of gum? M & Ms? Just drive on through!

You might think the idea of a drive-thru alcohol purveyor is counterintuitive. Wouldn’t this promote drinking and driving? That’s like saying drive-thru restaurants promote eating and driving. Who wants to eat in the car when there’s a big screen TV and a coffee table waiting at home?

I reckon beer barns might have been outlawed by some zealous Baptists, seeing as the one on Lakeland Drive was closed eons ago. Now, that, my friends is counterintuitive, seeing as Baptists are the ideal demographic for the drive-thru beer barn: no chance of being spotted in public toting a six-pack of Bud.

When I was in high school, Mississippi changed the drinking age to 21, but Louisiana had yet to jump on the bandwagon. Folks would drive across the river at Vicksburg to this place called Daiquiri World where you could get a ginormous Styrofoam cup of daiquiri TO GO. There might have even been a drive thru. And what’s better than a drive through beer barn? A drive-thru LIQUOR joint.

Beats the heck out of the drive-thru espresso stands that multiply faster than rabbits – or Starbucks – around here.

Ever been to a beer barn? Do they still exist?

42. Moon Pies, Perhaps the Finest Food Ever Wrapped in Cellophane

20 Jun

How they got to be called “moon pies,” I really don’t know. They’re round, so I get the “moon” part. But they do not resemble a pie AT ALL. At least no pie I’ve ever seen, and I’m sure y’all know I’ve seen a fair share of pies.

Moon Pies are more like a cross between a cookie and a cake: a layer of marshmallow creme sandwiched by two cakey-ish layers all dipped in a flavored coating. My favorite is banana. But they also come in vanilla and chocolate.

I had not seen a Moon Pie in decades, so when my sister and I made a road trip from Seattle to Portland a few years back, imagine my surprise when I spotted a box of banana Moon Pies in a tote-sum store along the way. I came out of the store beaming, carrying a sack full. My sister didn’t see what the big deal was. I guess Moon Pies are pretty prevalent in Memphis. But Moon Pies within driving distance of Seattle? Hallelujah!

Forward thinker that I am, I did not make note of the name/location of the store, so I can’t find them again. Probably a good thing. Because I’ve been known to eat them for breakfast. Which reminds me of my favorite “white trash” breakfast that I haven’t had in at least 10 years: those little powdered-sugar covered donuts and a can of orange soda. Please don’t ask. I cannot begin to explain or justify.

I’m going down to Memphis sometime in the next month to meet my soon-to-be-arriving nephew Eli, and I intend to smuggle home at least a few Moon Pies. I’m still on the lookout for the boiled peanuts, but in the mean time, if y’all want Moon Pies, let me know.

P.S. This just in: would you believe they sell Moon Pie lip balm? Two great tastes that taste great together. Alas, no banana flavor. Vanilla will have to do.

What’s your favorite variety of Moon Pie? Have you ever had one of the “single-deckers”? Do they really exist?

41. Stuckey’s: Home of Pee Breaks and Pecan Log Rolls

19 Jun

Stuckey's, Coffee County, Tennessee by naslrogues

Every road trip I ever suffered through as a child included at least one stop at Stuckey’s. Which was often the highlight of the whole ordeal. How to describe Stuckey’s to the uninitiated? Hmm…a gas station, restaurant, souvenir shop, ice cream parlor, and candy store all in one. Kind of a low-rent version of Disneyland, sans rides, dorky hats, and teenagers sweltering in Disney character costumes.

Anybody who’s ever been to Stuckey’s knows I’m building it up way too much, but y’all have to admit that to a road-weary kid, Stuckey’s is pretty awesome. Except for the bathrooms. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clean bathroom in a Stuckey’s. But, hey, look! There’s a figurine made out of a clam shell! A rubber alligator! Peanut brittle!

What I remember most about Stuckey’s is that they used to sell their own brand of melt-in-your-mouth peppermint balls. I remember this because I’ve spent the rest of my life (so far) trying to find a decent substitute. If y’all know of any, please let me know.

My sister and I never left Stuckey’s without new “Yes and Know” books in hand. These were filled with trivia questions or word games, and you revealed the “invisibly printed” answers with a “magic pen.” As I got older (or perhaps my eyesight improved), I realized you could read the “invisibly printed” answers without the use of the “magic pen” AKA yellow highlighter. However, until I Googled them just now, some thirty-odd years later, I didn’t catch anything odd about the tagline “Hours and hours of by-yourself enjoyment.” Hmm.

My mom always had to have a box of sesame sticks (which were WAY exotic back in the day) and the ever-popular Pecan Log. This is not as gross as it sounds, but almost. I don’t remember anything my dad enjoyed about Stuckey’s other than getting the hell out of there and back on the road. Of course, we didn’t often get to-go drinks because a pit stop was to “empty” not “fill up.”

Anytime I happen to be on a road trip in the South, I can never pass up a Stuckey’s. They’re harder to find these days, but if you’re on the road from Jackson, MS to Memphis, there’s one in Vaiden. Last time I checked.

Alas, while they do still sell a bunch of Stuckey’s brand food-like substances, the peppermint balls are long gone. However, I’m happy to report that the bathrooms are just as nasty as ever.

What do y’all remember about Stuckey’s?

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