I was excited this week when Matt Lauer headed to “The Today Show” kitchen for a segment with food critic Katie Lee on West Virginia’s state food, the pepperoni roll. The Mountain State rarely gets good press on a national scale, so a plug on a popular morning show couldn’t be a bad thing, right?
Then I watched in horror as Lee, a native of Milton, W.Va., proved that she is more foodie than hillbilly. She perverted the perfect simplicity of the pepperoni roll — homemade dough, slices or chunks of pepperoni, cheese and sometimes a little sauce — with a recipe that includes broccoli. Yes, broccoli!
To make culinary matters worse, Lee didn’t even craft her concoction into the form of actual rolls. She fashioned something that looked more like a stromboli, cut it into “12 even rounds” and then cooked them in a casserole dish. She served the meal with banana peppers and marinara sauce on the side.
News flash to Billy Joel’s ex-wife: That is not how you make pepperoni rolls! You’ve been living in the big city too long.
I’m not an anti-broccolite like George H.W. Bush, who famously banned them from the White House menu during his presidency. I might even like the recipe that Katie Lee invented. But she needs to pick a better name for it than pepperoni rolls.
The history behind the redneck delicacy exposes the flaws in Lee’s recipe. The inventor of the pepperoni roll, Giuseppe (Joseph) Argiro, got the idea from watching his fellow coal miners on their lunch breaks.
“A common lunch for immigrant miners, according to Giuseppe’s younger son, Frank Argiro, consisted of ‘a slab of bread, a chunk of pepperoni, and a bucket of water.’ At some point between 1927 and 1938 — nobody seems to know exactly when — Giuseppe began placing the spicy pepperoni within the bread, and the pepperoni roll was born.”
The food came into existence because miners needed something that was meaty enough to get them through the day and practical enough to take into a mine. Lee’s version is not the least bit practical.
The State of West Virginia may need to create the mountaineer equivalent of a “man card” for expatriates like Lee just so the card can be revoked for egregious behavior like this:
Filed under: Entertainment and Food and People and Video and West Virginia
I’m totally jumping on the bandwagon of angry West Virginians rolling virtually toward Sheetz’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania. The cause: Mountain State pride in pepperoni rolls.
The outcry started Friday, when Rogers and Mazza’s Italian Bakery in Clarksburg, W.Va., announced on its Facebook page that Sheetz abruptly canceled the company’s contract to provide pepperoni rolls for 117 stores in West Virginia and other states. Worse, they lost the contract to a company outside West Virginia, the birthplace of the pepperoni roll.
“I would suggest and appreciate everyone writing this company with their displeasure on their decision,” Rogers and Mazza’s urged its fans — and they did.
Those complaints prompted the Charleston Gazette-Mail to run a story today. It caught my attention on Facebook, and here’s what I have to say to Sheetz after reading it:
UPDATE, July 30: Sheetz has caved to the pressure applied by West Virginia’s angry rednecks. Here’s what the company said in announcing that its Mountain State stores will sell West Virginia-made pepperoni rolls: “Our customers told us loud and clear that it is important to them to have those rolls provided and baked by a West Virginia company. I couldn’t be happier to have that feedback and we are committed to executing upon it.”
UPDATE, Aug. 17: Rogers and Mazza’s paid the price for biting the hand that fed it a contract for pepperoni rolls for years — the bakery lost the contract to another West Virginia-based competitor, Home Industry Bakery. “The company went through a thorough evaluation of West Virginia vendors and selected the best partner to supply all 49 stores in the state,” Sheetz announced.
Thank you, Rogers and Mazza’s for exposing a potential injustice at the hands of Sheetz. You took a hit to your pocketbook for West Virginia pride, and I, for one, appreciate it.
Filed under: Business and Food and Media and Social Media and West Virginia
Every evening on Fox News’ “The Five,” the co-hosts close the show with quick rants and raves about the “One More Thing” on their minds. I say a hearty “Amen!” to Greg Gutfeld’s tirade tonight because he mocked the phrase “outside the box.”
I hate that phrase so much that I once wrote a local newspaper column called “Inside the Box.” This is the essay that started my own weekly rants:
Filed under: Business and Culture and Education and Family and Food and Government and History and Media and People and Weather and West Virginia
Well, that didn’t take long. The quick and intense outcry against Cracker Barrel that I blogged about last night prompted the Southern restaurant chain to reverse course today. “Duck Dynasty” items are going back on the store shelves, according to a status update on the company’s Facebook page:
The change of heart earned Cracker Barrel more than 27,000 “likes,” more than 16,000 shares and more than 8,000 comments in two hours.
But for some people, the online protest against Cracker Barrel may have been more symbolic than substantive. They didn’t like Cracker Barrel taking a stand against “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson but also don’t intend to buy any products related to the A&E Networks show for fear of fattening the wallets of the cable fat cats who decided to oust Robertson from his family’s show.
“I choose to come back [to Cracker Barrel], and I choose to not buy ‘Duck Dynasty’ products,” one woman wrote. “I would, however, buy Duck Commander products. The family needs to just cut ties with A & E and move on.
Filed under: Business and Culture and Entertainment and Food and Hatin' On Rednecks and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Religion
Comments: 1 Comment
If you think the A&E Network’s decision to indefinitely suspend the star of its cash cow “Duck Dynasty” made bad business sense, wait until you hear what Cracker Barrel did. Yesterday the restaurant chain that made its name and fortune on the appetites of Southern folk like Phil Robertson and the rest of his duck-calling entrepreneurial family decided to pull some “Duck Dynasty” merchandise from its stores.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Cracker Barrel cited its “pleasing people” motto and its commitment to “the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people.” The company then explained why “Duck Dynasty” no longer may reflect those ideals:
It didn’t take long for “Duck Dynasty” fans to voice their outrage to Cracker Barrel, which has more than 67,000 employees at its 600-plus stores. At last check, the Facebook statement had sparked more than 27,000 comments, most of them from regular diners who said they won’t be any longer. The post also has been shared more than 4,900 times, presumably by those same former customers telling their friends to boycott Cracker Barrel in the future.
All of which made me wonder: Why would Cracker Barrel take this stand? The executives and corporate board members who run the chain surely know that most of the people who shop and eat at an “old country store and restaurant” are the enlightened rednecks who sided with the Robertsons. Yet Cracker Barrel decided to cast its lot with A&E, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Human Rights Campaign.
I found the answer in Cracker Barrel’s corporate history — not the filtered, flattering version the company tells but the version you can find via Google. The key finding: Cracker Barrel has been in trouble with homosexual rights activists before.
How much trouble? Enough that The New York Times emphasized the controversy in its 2012 obituary for Cracker Barrel founder Dan Evins. The paper mentioned the issue in the headline and lead, and expounded on it at length in its coverage:
Filed under: Business and Culture and Food and Hatin' On Rednecks and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Religion
Comments: 12 Comments
My wife remembers with much amusement the first time my Mom and I fried a turkey for Thanksgiving. Mom had done so much research into the safety hazards of the cooking technique that both of us were terrified of catching the house or ourselves on fire.
We placed the fryer on the very outer edge of the concrete patio in our backyard to put as much distance as possible between the fryer and our house. We stretched the gas line that runs between the propane tank and the burner as far as it would go and then stood as far away as our arms would reach to light the flame. When it came time to lower the turkey into the boiling vat of oil, we would have used a 10-foot pole if we had one, just to ensure our safety.
We were quite the spectacle as my wife watched from the kitchen window.
But hey, at least we didn’t end up like Si Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame in this warning video from State Farm:
Be careful out there this Thanksgiving, all you enlightened rednecks with deep fryers!
Filed under: Advertising and Family and Food and Holidays and Redneck Humor and Video
Newsflash! Newsman Brian Williams has a touch of redneck in him. The “NBC Nightly News” anchor is a spam-eater from way back and still likes Ramen noodles.
Spam and eggs, now that’s a meal. I’m not so sure about the Spam sushi Savannah Guthrie of NBC’s “Today” admitted to eating, but I’d probably be willing to give it or any other number of Spam recipes a try.
That’s what being enlightened is all about.
Filed under: Food and News & Politics and People and Rednecks
Get your Ding Dongs, Twinkies and Wonder Bread while you still can because once the store shelves in your area are empty, they won’t be restocked with any tasty goods made by Hostess Brands.
The company has closed its plants and is liquidating because of a labor strike and union demands that made future operations for the bankrupt company impossible. Don’t bother trying to visit Hostess websites to refresh your memory about which sweet snacks the company makes, either. All websites were blank this morning, save for a “Not Found” error message.
The labor standoff will cost 18,500 employees their jobs and will deprive rednecks everywhere of a future filled with deep-fried hunks of trans fat and sugar.
Filed under: Business and Food
Quim Marcé, a theater owner in the small town of Bescanó, Spain, is a brilliant man who embraced the carrot as a consumer incentive when the government tried to hit him with the tax stick.
Marcé briefly believed his small business was doomed in the summer when the Spanish government hiked taxes on tickets to plays by 21 percent. But then he had a carrot-inspired epiphany: Sell produce in exchange for free movie tickets.
“We sell one carrot, which costs 13 euros [$16] -– very expensive for a carrot, But then we give away admission to our shows for free,” Marcé told NPR. “So we end up paying 4 percent tax on the carrot, rather than 21 percent, which is the government’s new tax rate for theater tickets.”
It’s a clever way to stick it to Tío Sam and to generate publicity for the theater. But tax hikers undoubtedly won’t let it stand. One Spanish economist quoted in the NPR story called it “tax evasion.”
“This means that people who do pay taxes have to pay a larger tax,” Fernando Fernandez said. “And this makes it more difficult to get the fiscal target. So we have to denounce this just as much as we denounce the filthy rich who don’t want to pay taxes. We should do the same.”
Filed under: Business and Entertainment and Food and Government and Human Interest and News & Politics
For the record, Vice President Joe Biden did not invite a biker lady to sit on his lap. He did the gentlemanly thing and pulled up a chair so she could get her picture taken with him. A smart photographer captured the candid moments after the posed picture, and people on Twitter started a rumor about something that didn’t happen the way they saw it.
Sadly, I fell for the Twitter hype about the photo. I’m glad to have heard the rest of the story.
Also for the record, pizza entrepreneur Scott Van Duzer did hug President Obama during a campaign trip to Van Duzer’s Florida restaurant — and people are protesting the pizza shop over the hug. Obama haters flocked to the website Yelp to give Big Apple Pizza negative reviews for political rather than culinary reasons.
As an American, I support people’s right to register any political protest they desire, but I also reserve my right to expose some such antics for what they are — petty politics. Van Duzer, a Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again, is right: “There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.”
Scott Van Duzer appears to be a good man, and he is doing good work through his own foundation. He shouldn’t be catching business grief for hugging, or even voting for, President Obama. Disagree with his political views if you want — I do — but leave his business out of it.
If I lived in Fort Pierce, Fla., I would be heading to Big Apple Pizza to buy a pie and show my support for the right of small businessmen to freedom of political speech and action. As a conservative, I cannot expect the same — remember the Chick-fil-A uproar — but this is a clear opportunity to “treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31).
Filed under: Business and Food and Human Interest and News & Politics and People and Photography and Religion
Comments: 1 Comment
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