Cracker Barrel: uncomfortable deliciousness.

so this past week i took a relaxing trip to the country with my family to get away for awhile.  i was only half excited to go in the beginning, to tell you the truth, because i knew at some point i’d end up on a hot ass bank of some hot ass lake doin a half assed job at fishing, where i’d probably catch nothing but a stick (note:  I WAS RIGHT).  but there were two incentives:  there was a pool where we’d be staying and i’d get to work on my much needed tan (note:  i’m so almondy!)  and, most importantly–we were gonna stop at Cracker Barrel for breakfast on the way.

FUCKING WIN!  kind of!

Cracker Barrel is one of the most delicious problematic restaurants i know of.  if you’ve never experienced it before, it’s a restaurant that specializes in old timey country food and nostalgia and comes complete with its own Andy Griffith-ass general store (which sells things like cobbler filling in mason jars, clove chewing gum, and old timey candies packaged in brown paper).  the menu is full of dishes that begin with the word “country:”  country ham.  country vegetables.  country fried everything.

i don’t think ive ever had anything other than breakfast there because i simply can’t get past a spread that looks like this:

pictured: turkey sausage, scrambled eggs & cheese, buttermilk biscuits & gravy, blueberry strudel french toast, hash browns, hash brown casserole, bacon, country ham, hypertension, diabeetus.

you know how TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s have all types of random shit covering the walls (snow shoes, license plates, etc)?  Cracker Barrel does too, and it’s all deep down home down south old timey.  glass pop bottles, tin plates, washing powder ads from 1923.  and i guess here’s where the discomfort comes in.

okay.  so i’m black, right?  so are my parents and grandparents and great grandparents and at least some of my great great grandparents.  seeing all this old timey stuff on the walls makes me think of old country charm, but it also puts me in the mind of what society and the racial climate were like back then (note:  not so good).  instinctively, the very first thing i do when i walk into a Cracker Barrel is start looking for other black people.  i can’t explain why.  then i start looking at the walls fully expecting to see, like, some old slave shackles or a mammy cookie jar sitting up there next to the antique box of cracker jacks.  lol, you know??  i mean my family is country, so it’s cool to kind of be surrounded by that, but at the same time… it’s kind of uneasy.  plus with a name like Cracker Barrel… !

because of the restaurant’s name, i flat out refused to go to the restaurant in my angry young black militant days.  when i finally broke down and went, i was a freshman in college, about 18/19 years old, and in the throes of my fight the power/where is my revolution?/womanist days.  i was reading black power.  literally.  i was reading this book that day and i carried the book into the restaurant with me so that all those cracker barrels would know just what i’m about (note:  i got into reading and studying such things because of the racist ass college i was attending, so you KNOW i was ready for a fight).

i squared my shoulders.  i puffed out my chest.  i narrowed my eyes.  i grabbed my niece’s hand (who must have been 7 or 8 at the time) and military stomped inside.  i ice grilled my way to our table and through my menu, but once those delicious golden pancakes passed my lips, i couldn’t help but soften a little bit.   …just a little bit though.

after the meal, my niece had to go to the bathroom.  i offered to get up to take her, and i made sure to carry my book with me, cover side out so that everybody could see it.  ‘hey,’ i said to her, ‘make a fist.  good, now hold it in the air, like this.’  she did, and somehow that made me feel better about having fallen in love with such a problematic place.

all that said, i can’t WAIT to go back.  that blueberry strudel french toast was YES!

ps – this is what Cracker Barrel waitresses look like in kentucky.

9 responses to “Cracker Barrel: uncomfortable deliciousness.

  1. I haven’t had Cracker Barrel in like 3 years… but boy am I gonna fix that when I go home in August. AMEN, THANK YOU JESUS.

    Oh, but I def wait on some real racist ish to happen whenever I’m there. Just… I mean, it’s called “Cracker Barrel” don’t that SOUND racist?

    Believe it or not, that was the company that we had to create a complete advertising campaign for in my Ad Campaign class my senior year in undergrad. In MURFREESBORO, TN, nonetheless! My group (of which I was the only NEGREAUX) created commercials with our own low budget “Faith Hill” as spokesperson. Ahhh, Memories! I have always cringed about the name, though. I get it: cracker barrels were a common feature in old time country stores, but people who aren’t familiar with that reference don’t think of it. Can you imagine anyone who knew nothing of raccoons and country living, comfortably eating at, say, the ‘Coon Crate, no matter how tasty the mustard greens and ham hocks were?!?!

    That being said, pass the bizkits, pleeeze!

  3. Ms. Brokey,
    The expression Cracker Barrel was originally first heard at (the bottom of) Little Round Top. As Union troops, under the valiant command of Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain, charged with mounted bayonets into the Confederate soldiers below, the surprised and routed Southern forces exclaimed they “was lookin’ down the Cracker Barrel!!!”
    It was a key moment in not just the Battle of Gettysburg, but a huge turning point for the Civil War and ultimately the “Freeing of the Slaves” (100+ more years of Jim Crow, Segregation and Repression notwithstanding).

    Out of Respect for your feelings …
    I got on my Tommy Smith/John Carlos Black Glove. I’ll be the Australian Peter Norman.
    19.83 Baby!

    (Note: My baby girl asked about Tanning Salon’s. I threw a fit and told her that “the other half of ya will brown very nicely all by itself, in the free sun!”)

  4. cracker barrel gave me food poisoning tuesday.
    but I didnt eat breakfast and I should have.
    always follow your first mind

  5. They don’t have slave shackles on the wall? I don’t live near a Cracker Barrel, but I do remember them getting sued for racism a few years ago and thinking “you can sue them for racism, but not false advertising!” Anyway, that suit got settled reeeeeal quick when Chris Rock mom sued for racism – you know they weren’t trying to end up in his act.

  6. LOL! At you making your niece make a black power fist on the way to the bathroom.

  7. My favorite is “Chicken Fried Chicken”, redundant name and all, it is delicious and mildly orgasmic… #fatgirlshit

  8. I feel JUST like this when I go in there, Im from the country too (Columbia, SC) but I’m mixed and be expecting the waitress or waiter to come spit on me or something like I am a abomination. … But oh boy that Hungry Boy breakfast is the BOMB DOT COM. Yaaassss!

  9. @TeeBee I am DYING @ “The Coon Crate” !!!!

    I live in a town that has several Cracker Barrels and the best one is the one closest to my house. Luckily, it is also the one where the black ppl eat and work. I go there without shame and will fuck UP an Uncle Hershel’s breakfast.

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