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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Traditional grocery items from the deep South

Fifteen or twenty years ago I saw an indie film whose title I don't remember. It was shot in a former Communist state in central Europe after the Soviet Union dissolved. Western foodstuffs had replaced the previous dreary products on shelves in grocery stores, but the residents lamented the loss of some old favorites.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel like that. Here are some grocery items that I remember from my youth in central Alabama. Some, perhaps many of them are still produced although finding them in North Carolina is tricky.

The standard mayonnaise in my household was Blue Plate, a brand from New Orleans.

Another brand from New Orleans. "Tea" meant iced tea, always, and 95% of the time it was sweet iced tea. (For us, "ski" meant water ski and "skate" meant roller skate.) I didn't have a cup of "hot" tea until I was in college.

Everyone's choice for biscuits, wasn't it? Martha White was founded in Nashville, Tenn. But White Lily would do.

Royal Crown Cola operated from Columbus, Ga. There was a Coca-Cola bottler in my home town, but we seldom had Coke at home.

Many syrups were available, with a wide range of tastes. I preferred a honey-flavored syrup like Golden Eagle, made then and now in Fayette, Ala. Before 9-11, when I visited my parents I would grab a jar of Golden Eagle and take it back home with me on the airplane. An acceptable alternative is Yellow Label.

Whitfield Pickles were made in Montgomery. This is one of the few graphics I could find. I believe the company closed its Montgomery manufacturing operation in the 1970s.

Tom's peanuts were another Columbus, Ga. product. The alternative was Lance.

Everyone who watched the Bear Bryant Show on Sunday afternoon will remember the bags of Golden Flake potato chips from Birmingham.

Yet another New Orleans brand. Although Atlanta outgrew New Orleans after World War II, Louisiana products continued to dominate Alabama and Mississippi grocery stores for a long time. One reason: we shopped at Delchamps, a chain of stores based in Mobile, Ala. not far from New Orleans.

A staple that came from south Texas.

I have never been a coffee drinker, but my parents were. Maxwell House originated in Nashville, Tenn. and at one time had several manufacturing plants across the South.
What always went onto my toast or into my grits.

The local source for sausage and hot dogs. Often gave factory tours to elementary schools.

Enjoy the week!