"Weird" Southern Foods That The Rest Of The World Might Find Disgusting, But You Should Try At Least Once

Have you heard of these vintage classics?

Pear Salad on a blue plate
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

It's no secret that the South is privy to plenty of unique recipes that hail from generations of family recipe boxes and community cookbooks, passed down with love and care. Yes, even if there are packets of gelatin involved. Love them or dislike them, the most interesting Southern recipes deserve to be celebrated, and we've got the "weirdest" of the bunch.

Pear Salad on a blue plate
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Whether you recognize these vintage dishes or are interested in discovering something new from your great-aunt's archives, everyone should try these Southern foods at least once, from a retro mayonnaise-laden salad to a Great Depression-era potato treat.

01 of 10

Pineapple Casserole

pineapple casserole in a white square casserole dish
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle,Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Recipe: Pineapple Casserole

Pineapple and cheese? This combination tends to scare off those who are unfamiliar with it. However, the cracker-topped casserole is perfectly sweet, salty, buttery, and cheesy. It's not a Southern Easter celebration without it.

02 of 10

Cornbread and Milk

Cornbread and Milk
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley

Recipe: Cornbread and Milk

Originally made popular in the South as a way to eat leftover cornbread, this concoction is made by crumbling leftover cornbread into a tall drinking glass and topping it with milk. While buttermilk is traditional, regular milk is also preferred by some.

03 of 10

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

old-fashioned tomato pie on teal background
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

Tomatoes and mayonnaise have their own love story in Southern cuisine, and there's no way that we won't put them together. In this case, classic tomato pie comes together with fresh summer tomatoes, mayonnaise, and plenty of cheese.

04 of 10

Pear Mayonnaise Salad

Pear Salad on a blue plate
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Pear Mayonnaise Salad

Many recognize this retro cold salad from Nana's table growing up. Canned pear halves get dollops of mayonnaise, a sprinkling of cheese, and maraschino cherries as garnish. Don't knock it until you try it.

05 of 10

Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate Gravy
Lexington Herald-Leader/Getty Images

Recipe: Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate gravy is a lesser-known but much-beloved gravy that hails from Appalachia. Whipping up a batch is considered a rite of Southern passage passed down through the generations. It's typically served over a warm biscuit, but some Southerners get even more creative.

06 of 10

Potato Candy

potato candy
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Recipe: Potato Candy

Potato candy actually originated in the South during the Great Depression, and you might be surprised that it's customarily made with mashed potato. It's completed with creamy peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.

07 of 10

Oyster Casserole

Oyster Casserole, easter casseroles 9x13 casseroles
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Oyster Casserole

Southerners from the coast will recognize this holiday staple, though it's also known as oyster dressing, oyster pie, or even scalloped oysters. Served alongside the side dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas, plump oysters are baked in a rich Parmesan cream sauce and topped with buttery breadcrumbs.

08 of 10

Vinegar Pie

Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie

Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Christina Dailey

Recipe: Vinegar Pie

Don't let the name put you off. Among the ranks of other Southern desperation pies is the delightfully tangy Vinegar Pie. The sharpness of the vinegar is offset by the sugar and salt in the filling, lending a tartness and tang similar to cheesecake while maintaining the texture of a gooey custard pie.

09 of 10


Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Margaret Dickey, Prop Stylist Christine Keely

Recipe: Chowchow

Chowchow is a pickled relish dish that was made to preserve summer vegetables for later in the year, and there are few Southern meals that it doesn't pair well with. While no one batch is the same, a lot of Southern chowchows use tomatoes, cabbage, bell peppers, and onions. The result is tangy, a little sweet, and a touch spicy.

10 of 10

Southern Tomato Sandwich

tomato sandwich halves stacked on top of one another
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Recipe: Southern Tomato Sandwich

Finally, don't dare ever tell a Southerner that a tomato sandwich sounds questionable. And no, it's not soggy. The bread soaks up the yummy tomato juices, which mingle with the creamy mayo, and it doesn't get soggy because you devour it right on the spot.

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