In the 1920’s, somewhere in East Texas or Western Arkansas someone decided to put peanuts in a bottle of Coke and a legend was born. So was a fight.
Two stories contend that a farmer riding a farm implement behind a team of horses or a tractor wanted a way to hold a drink and eat a snack at the same time with his free hand so he put peanuts in a bottle of coke. The farmer then passed the habit onto mechanics who came to the fields to service farm equipment.
The other version of the story contends that the first discovery of this wonderful treat was by a mechanic who serviced farm equipment and wanted a way to have a drink and a snack he could eat with greasy hands without needing to wash or get his food dirty. The mechanic was said to have just set up a couple bottles while his hands were still clean and then got to work on the machine and farmers took note and carried it into the fields all across the Southern United States.
Texas or Arkansas? Farmer or Mechanic? In some places the debate still rears it’s ugly head even today. Yankees and city folk in general wonder if Coke and Peanuts is even a real thing. Passing it off as a prank played on those poor uninitiated souls visiting that Holy Land of Culinary Innovation commonly referred to as The South.
On a hot dry West Texas night in 1971 I was introduced to Coke and Peanuts by a generous gas station attendant. We stopped for gas in the middle of the night and I desperately wanted something cold to drink. All my parents had in the car was hot water in milk bottles intended for the car if it overheated and even hotter (if that’s possible) cans of Shasta Orange soda. There is nothing wrong with Shasta Orange Soda but at 90 degrees? I’ll Pass. I went to the coke machine and stared longingly as I had no money and my mother would not waste a few cents on a coke when we had water and soda in the car already.
I must have stared at the Coke machine long enough to get the attention of the old gentleman who ran the station. He lifted the lid of the cooler and used a key to get the bottles out instead of putting a dime in the machine. He pulled out two bottles of Coke and opened them. He handed one to me and told me to take a sip. He did the same and then proceeded to pour a sleeve of peanuts into each bottle. He said the salt in the nuts replaced what I was losing in my sweat. I thanked him and we left.
This is the simplest recipe you will ever prepare. Take a glass bottle of very cold Coke, open and take a large sip. Pour in one small sleeve of roasted, salted Peanuts. Drink the Coke taking a few nuts in each sip. There are endless variations of this concoction. Dry, honey and flavored roasted peanuts instead of tradition roast. Try other nuts other than peanuts. Cashew pieces work good. Then try drinks other than Coca Cola. RC and Pepsi do just fine but I like Coke. It is less sweet and a little more acidic which is exactly why some people like RC or Pepsi better. You can drink from plastic bottles if you must but I believe there is a scripture somewhere warning against the practice if south of the Chesapeake Bay.
I will always be indebted to that old gentleman and I have become a disciple of Coke and Peanuts as well as many other food oddities, spreading the word. What is the alternative? Watching my friends and family eat the same dozen meals over and over again for their entire lives? Unthinkable. Be adventurous. Eat, Drink, Explore, Discover, Enjoy and Spread the Word!
This was a rather dull week as far as cooking goes. Life happens and some weeks you just need to eat what is available and within the time constraints you have. This was one of those weeks. We drove several hours to pick up my youngest son and his girlfriend from school for spring break. We stopped for drinks at a gas station on the way home and my wife habitually bought me a bottle of Coke and a pack of Peanuts. I poured the nuts in the Coke and hit the road. My son then turned to his girlfriend and said “See, I told you it’s a thing”. Apparently she didn’t believe people did it, so I thought it would be a fun topic for this weeks blog. Get out of your rut and try something new.
This weeks menu highlights. Chili over Potatoes with Veggies and Cheese, Pizza, Spaghetti with Sausage (bottled sauce) Polynesian Chicken with Veggies and Pineapple over rice, Soup and Salad (canned), Panini Sandwiches.
We will revisit the glory of Southern food as the Mountain West pulls itself out of winter and summer (also known as BBQ-Grilling-Smoking, Season) arrives.
Have a great weekend go try something totally new. John