Here's Proof That Nobody Adds Sugar Like A Southerner

We'll put the white stuff on just about anything—from grits to rutabagas.

woman chef tasting food
We sprinkle the white stuff over the darndest things—from grapefruit to rudabeggas. Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty

Saying that Southerners have a bit of a sweet tooth is like saying Bear Bryant coached a little football. Our sugar love is epic. And we're conflicted about it—not because we feel bad about how many things we sweeten, but because we don't feel bad at all—and we know we probably should. It's our lack of guilt that we feel so guilty about.

That's why you'll hear us use so many descriptors that telegraph "diminutive" when we tell you how much sugar we add: a tiny bit, the teensiest bit, a scant spoonful, etc. There's a whole "just a" subcategory: just a pinch, just a sprinkle, just a touch, just a tad, just a hint . . .

We polled our Facebook Brain Trust to see how many favorite foods they feel compelled to sweeten. Here's what they told us—let us know what we missed:

Sugar for Breakfast

Basically, we take healthy but bland breakfast staples and render them fabulous with sugar. Grits most especially get sugared (although some of us are in the butter-and-salt camp). Oatmeal and cream of wheat also get a dousing. A sprinkle, please, for our halved grapefruit. We get emotional just thinking about sugar, butter, and bread together. (Break out the exclamation points!!!) Says the Brain Trust:

I love sugar on toast with melted butter and cinnamon—Old School sweet bread for breakfast.

Aunt Jackie taught me to put it on her made-from-scratch Hot Butter Biscuits.

In biscuits with butter!!! My grandmother made these for me when I was a child!!! Soooooo good!!!

Sugar on a Sandwich

Again, the magic of bread, sugar, and butter . . . and cheese . . . and bananas . . .

Sugar's great sprinkled on a banana sandwich.

Sandwiches when were were kids: sugar and butter.

We had sugar and butter sandwiches—so good!

My mom adds the teensiest bit to her grilled stinky cheese sandwiches. She likes to make grilled cheese from extra-sharp cheddar cheese, so she sprinkles the teensiest bit on the cheese when she's cooking it. Yummy. Makes me want one right now.
[Editor's Note: "teensiest"]

Cornbread (Controversy Alert!)

Some members of our Brain Trust like sugar in their cornbread. But they aren't proud of it.

I put it in cornbread—even though my Memaw said, 'Cornbread with sugar is cake.'

Tea, Tea, Tea

Do we even need to talk about this one? No. No, we do not. On the sweet tea issue, we are a united people.

We'd Never Sweeten Vegetables (Bwahahahahahaha!!!!)

Just a light sprinkle on asparagus before grilling.

Just a touch on veggies.

Just a little in turnip greens to take the bitter out. Vera Wyatt's special secret.

A tiny bit in the baby lima beans.

I know they aren't for everyone, but with a little sugar, rutabagas are so, so good! Yumm!

Collards! Pinch of sugar, cup of wine, and vinegar are all must-haves in collards.

My grandparents put sugar on tomatoes.

My grandma put sugar in her potato salad and coleslaw. Her slaw is known by the family as "Grandma Slaw." She had a unique way of hand-cutting the cabbage with a paring knife that made it taste so good.

We Can't Forget the Starch Family

Pork and beans. Pour them into a little bacon or sausage grease (grease should sizzle when beans go in); add pepper and sugar! Straight from the old family history and yummy with scrambled eggs.

Sweet potatoes. Or does everybody do that?

Some people put it on rice

Sweet Things Need Sweetener, Too

Strawberries and other fruits can expect a sugar sprinkle so that they turn nice and syrupy . . . before we pour them over vanilla ice cream.

Sugar on Entrees

What is it about ground beef and sugar? We add it to our meatloaf and spaghetti sauce. [Editor's Note: It was actually an Italian friend who taught me to sugar my spaghetti sauce. But she was raised in Dallas, so does that make it a Southern thing?]

Sugar on Absolutely Anything

A few more comments from the Brain Trust:

My dad would sit at the table and eat a spoonful of sugar before every meal. Guess it was bad for him—but he lived to be 93 with no major health problems.  I like it on grits, rice, coffee, in cornbread, and of course sweet tea. Although as we get older we switch to Splenda.

Southerners like sugar on 'pretty pleases.' As in 'pretty please, with sugar on top.' 

We even give people sugar. When Great Aunt Aurelia grabs you at the reunion and exclaims, 'C'mere and gimme some sugar!' she wants a kiss on the cheek.

WATCH: 10 Things Only Southerners Know

We might need to add to that list of 10, having reviewed our sugar crush: Only Southerners know that many green vegetables could do with a teensy bit of sugar.

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