Regional quirks. southern vs nothern etc

After reading the southern headache powder thread , I saw references to southern taste. Living in the south all my life I am probably unaware that I had peculiar taste. I drink Sweet Iced Tea, RC cola, eat Moon Pies, Zero bars… Never thought these were different than northerns tastes.

Can someone who travels, migrates… detail some taste particulars of different regions?

Secondly, Is it prevelant enough where marketing people look at a new product and think “boy that will sell south of the Mason Dixon Line!” ?

Don’t forget Mr. Pibb, Mellow Yellow (both sodas), vinegar and mustard barbecue styles, collard/mustard/turnip greens, fatback, ham hocks, fried okra, redeye gravy…

These are mostly cultural differences, and regionally distributed products that never grew to be nationally recognized, that’s all.

And I think the conservative, traditionalist nature of southern country folk keep these differences from being as easily smoothed over by the television and national brands and huge clone chain stores like WalMart and Target that have an homogenizing effect on peoples’ tastes and brand familiarities. Change comes slower in the south - you can still go to some remote towns in NC, SC, GA, MS, etc., and except for a few things like cars, you’d think you were plopped down smack dab in the middle of Mayberry RFD.

Heck, from what I hear, there’s places in NJ and PA that aren’t much different.

Aside from climate-related things like snowshoes or swamp coolers, I don’t think there are very many companies these days who target regional markets. The trend today is to buy up as many regional brands as possible and create a national or international empire, and then try to centralize manufacturing and distribution.

I can tell you some of the differences in product consumption I’ve noticed between Chicago and Alabama:

In Chicago, where I come from, pop comes in 12oz cans and 16oz bottles. In Alabama, you can buy 7oz bottles.

In Chicago, a sausage pizza contains Italian sausage. In Alabama, it contains breakfast sausage.

In Chicago, French bread has a hard crust, and the inside is firm. In Alabama `French bread’ is soft through-and-through.

In Chicago, gyros are a common part of the local diet. In Alabama, they’re novelty food.

In Chicago, there are various foods that are considered `soul food,’ meaning that black people eat them – pigs feet, greens, black-eye peas, cornbread. In Alabama, white people eat them, too.

On another note, while I’ve never eaten Domino’s Pizza in Chicago (heaven forbid), I have had it in North Carolina, where I noticed that it was substantially better than Domino’s Pizza in Alabama. I’ve begun to suspect that national pizza chains vary their recipies according to local tastes. Anyone else noticed such a thing?

Hopefully, this won’t turn into a another “regional foods” or “regional slang” thread. Not that discussing chicken wings and spiedies isn’t fun, but it’s been one to death as of late. I’m thinking about the little things – anachronisms and quirks – you notice about a region that make you go “hmmmmmm …”; or things that you’ve notived growing up in your part of North America that, once you struck out beyond home turf, realized wasn’t the norm for the rest of the country – in fact, it might seem strange.

Take Buffalo, New York for instance …

  • The dominant newspaper is the Buffalo News, once called the Buffalo Evening News. Unlike the rest of the country where norming newspapers are the norm, in Buffalo most folks prefer reading their broadsheet over dinner.

  • The Buffalo News is delivered by still delivered by adolescents, not by adults.

  • In the “wedding section” of the News, there are no pictures of couples – only brides.

  • In Buffalo, you can still find most brands of pop in 16 ounce glass bottles. You can also find Tab on store shelves, and for some reason it’s outrageously popular with women of a certain religious persuasion.

  • The Pontiaz Aztek. Buffalonians love it – last time I was there, I saw 'em everywhere on the road.

  • Many franchise restaurants that are common throughout most of the United States are missing from the Buffalo dining scene.

  • Residential architecture often looks vastly different than what you would find just down the road in Rochester or Erie.

  • Local foods? Ha! Try local fashion – Roots (very Canadian, with a strong cross-border presence in Buffalo) and Tony Walker, for instance. 1980s preppiness and groderdom still guides the wardrobes of many.

  • Buffalo is the city of the underdogs. Canadian beers outsell BUd and Coor; Burger King is more popular than McDonald’s; and Pepsi is more popular than Coke.

  • Apartments often don’t include major appliances.

  • It’s a radio market where Led Zeppelin and Bob Seger still reigns.

  • Cabs are absolutely filthy compared to what you see in just about every other city, including New York.

  • The populace is not very well-travelled. Most residents have been to Toronto, Las Vegas, Florida and North Carolina, but that’s about it. Overseas travel is rare.

Philadelphia region:

Soft pretzels.
Gotta be from Philly/South Jersey region. Accept no substitutes. Other places may tell you that they have soft pretzels. They’re full of sh*t.

Don’t even ask. It’s the stuff that didn’t qualify for Spam. Mostly cereal, seasonings, and some pork parts. Talk about your acquired tastes.

Strictly South Jersey:
Drinkatoast or Takeaboost
Citrus concentrate syrups that mix with water for a cola-flavored drink. You have to be old school for this; it’s losing ground to every other soft drink on the planet.


Dick’s Drive In. - The best, and cheapest, burgers, fries, and shakes anywhere in the world. You’ll see scabby armed junkies standing in line with Mr. BMW in his J Crew Chinos. Sir-Mix-A-Lot included it in My Posse’s on Broadway
“Dick’s is the place where the crew hang out–
the SWASS like to play, and the rich flaunt clout–
posse to the burger stand, so big we walk in two’s–
we’re gettin’ dirty looks, from those other sucka crews–”

We have signs for a strip club that says: “100 BEAUTIFUL WOMEN, 3 UGLY ONES.”


Up north there are virtually no big stores that sell just pyrotechnic fun, and no roadside stands. Here, well you can price shop four different ones in ten miles! That and fireworks are a year-round source of fun in the rural south, not just seasonal.

The fireworks difference runs deeper than marketing. Most of the Great Lakes states (and the Northeastern states?) have laws that limit purchases to licensed users. (They use the polite fiction of having each customer sign a release claiming that either they have a license or that they are taking the fireworks out of the state.)

how can you not mention hominy and grits in the southern food not found in north

Ever try moon pies microwaved? One of Gods greatest gifts to man. RC cola is a must.

Don’t tell that to the Salem (MA) Evening News.

Not true. It’s the big thing that southerners like their grits. Also okra. However, grits are definitely found in the north (as well as hominy). I’ve lived in various cities in Illinois and in Charleston, SC. The best grits I’ve ever eaten was at a truck stop on an interstate south of Chicago.

One food found around Charleston (and points north) is a type of cooking called calabash (breaded and lightly fried). There’s also frogmore stew, named after a city in SC, not found in the north. (Sausages, corn, and all sorts of vegetables, but no frogs.) She-crab soup. Simply delicious.

And it’s not true that the only way southerners prepare chicken is southern-fried.

Growing up in Ohio, all the BBQ I ever ate was beef. Since I’ve moved to Nashvegas, TN I’ve discovered that Southerners prefer pork BBQ and beef BBQ is unheard of. :frowning: I also had a buddy from Iowa who used to talk about “loose meat” sandwiches, which I’d never heard of. (Then again, knowing him, he might have had something other than foodstuffs in mind! :eek: ) Also, every carbonated beverage down here is referred to as “coke” doesn’t matter if its a Pepsi, 7-Up, or some other thing, its still called a coke.

Also, turkey stuffing is made from cornbread down here, but in Ohio its made with white bread (usually).

What is “groderdom”?

I have lived in the south all my life and have never walked into a store and asked for a “soda water” or “soda” or “soft drink”. its always “coke”.

thats the idea of this thread. what kind of things do I have ingrained that are regional and I don’t know it. I eat all kinds of things that a lot of people around here find strange (fried bolonga , scrambled eggs with corn flakes, potato chip casserole, salt on watermelon, pepper on cantelope). but I know they aren’t mainstream. But I am sure I also have taste that I dont realize are regional. What are they?

In Texas there are only two brands of jeans and what brand you wear identified the community to which you identify yourself. Wranglers indicate you associate yourself with farming/ranching/agriculture and maybe oil. Levis generally means you aren’t into all of those things. Wearing an FFA jacket and Levis just doesn’t make sense. Also there are only three brands of cowboy boots (work boots like Red Wings are another issue) Nocona, Tony Lama, and Justin. Wearing any boots other than these immediately brands you as an outsider (unless they are custom jobs from a REAL BOOTMAKER in which case you get bonus cool-points).

BBQ is very regional period! Not just north to south. I grew up in East Texas and the only BBQ was beef, pork was unheard of, 200 miles north in Arkansas pork is generally the default and you have to ask for beef.

I’ve seen a number of arguments on the net, probably on this board as well, where people will ask what exactly is curry powder, and someone will pop up and say that curry is actually a method of cooking rather than a spice, and that dumb westerners didn’t understand that, and that’s why curry powder was created. Then others will go on and squabble about what exactly that cooking method is.

The barbecue argument is just like this, only people don’t think being right makes them more worldly.

They certainly do in Australia. The Pizza Hut Pepperoni pizza, for example, is vastly different in Perth (where I am from) and Sydney (where I live now).

I don’t know what they do to it here but all you get is a oil soaked box containing a pizza with cardboard on it.

Being a Cincinnatian, there’s an old joke here that happens to be true: drive 5 minutes in any direction to find a person with a different accent.

Also, we put allspice and chocolate - but not beans - in our chili.

bughunter writes:

> And I think the conservative, traditionalist nature of
> southern country folk keep these differences from being
> as easily smoothed over by the television and national
> brands and huge clone chain stores like WalMart and
> Target that have an homogenizing effect on peoples’
> tastes and brand familiarities.

Say what? WalMart started in the South. It’s based in Arkansas. It grew by putting stores in smaller Southern towns that chains like Penneys and Sears thought were too small for their stores.