WATCH: Things Southerners Take Credit For
Let's give credit where credit is due.
We Southerners are proud of our region, our traditions, and our communities. That said, there are a few super-Southern things we treasure that didn’t actually originate down here. That doesn’t stop us for taking credit for them, though. Who can blame us? When you perfect something like baking biscuits, you’ve just got to call it your own.
The Preferred Contraction
Say it ain’t so, y’all! But it might very well be true: “Y’all,” the most recognizable part of our shared Southern lexicon, might not be completely, incontrovertibly Southern. Long assumed to be a super-Southern contraction for the Northern “you all,” Michael B. Montgomery (“A Note on Ya'll,” 64 Am. Speech 273, 274, 1989) argues that “y’all” actually comes from the Scots-Irish phrase “ye aw,” which was used overseas as early as the 18th century. No matter the origin, we’re still claiming our y’alls.
The Peach State’s Favorite Export
We take credit for peaches in a big way. Georgia and South Carolina even have peach-painted water towers to prove it. But we can’t claim sole credit for supplying the country with the sweet, fuzzy fruit. In fact, California is the biggest peach producer in the US, followed (distantly) by South Carolina and the Peach State itself, Georgia. We’re happy to share credit with California, though, if it means we can source all the peaches we need for our peach cobblers and peach pies.
The Texas-Uniform Topper
Take a trip to Texas, and you’ll see cowboy hats aplenty—in the grocery store, on the range, everywhere. The distinctive hat didn’t originate there, however. The cowboy hat has its origins in 13th century Mongolia, a far cry from Dallas. The cowboy hat as we know it gained popularity thanks to John B. Stetson, who, from his haberdashery in Philadelphia, designed and sold the cowboy hats that Westerners—and eventually Southerners—have come to know and love.
The Baked Breakfast Essential
Biscuits may not be ours alone, but we sure do them right. The word biscuit comes to us from Latin and Old French, and the baked good itself exists in many different variations throughout the world. The biscuit varieties that we Southerners enjoy originated in the Middle Ages in England. The hard, cookie-like origins evolved as biscuits moved to the US (and, thankfully, became fluffier and fluffier). The South has developed what are unarguably the most craveable biscuits—thanks in large part to the addition of buttermilk and a flour made from soft winter wheat.
Related: 15 Scrumptious Breakfast Casseroles
The Automobile of Choice
It’s impossible to spend any length of time in the South and not encounter a pickup truck. They’re everywhere—and for good reason. We claim them as a quintessential Southern vehicle, but the very first pickup truck was developed in 1913 by a company in Ohio. From there, pickup trucks emerged from companies throughout the auto industry, many of which remain headquartered in the far-northern reaches of the US. While they may not have originated down here, we Southerners sure do put our pickup trucks to good use.
The Beloved Garden Fixture
The evergreen Indica azalea, a favorite Southern plant that we love to watch as it bursts into bloom, is actually native to Asia. Some say the azalea first arrived in the US in the 19th century via Philadelphia. No matter its origins, however, it soon made its way to Charleston, Mobile, and front yards across the Southern states, where it continues to flourish. Its vibrant blooms have come to define the gardens of the region.
All this just goes to show how some of the much-loved aspects of our culture shift and travel over time. These things we treasure often came from somewhere else, just as we’re sharing our traditions across borders near and far.