Are Boiled Peanuts or Roasted Peanuts Better? Southerners Are Divided
Where do you stand?
It was a typical enough Saturday morning. I was paying a visit to Alabama Peanut Co. in Birmingham, Alabama, picking up essential snacks for a road trip. Before even perusing the many compelling flavor options like classic salt, Cajun, sweet Vidalia onion, and even Wickles Pickles-flavored, there was a core decision to make: boiled or roasted? For me, a South Georgia native, there was no question. Boiled, all the way. For my companion from Texas, it was roasted. We got some of both, because extra car snacks are never a bad idea. While we both munched on boiled and roasted alike along the drive, there was a clear line drawn. I couldn't stop reaching for the boiled peanuts, and my companion kept digging into the roasted peanuts. And that's when the epiphany struck: You're either a boiled peanut person or a roasted peanut person.
All this to say, there is no right or wrong answer...necessarily. Then, why did I feel so disturbed that anyone would prefer roasted over boiled? To the point that I was listing off all the ways in which boiled peanuts are really the elite choice over roasted peanuts? Inherently, despite that we can all enjoy both types on occasion without any sort of fuss, there is a preference deep down, and Southerners get quite heated about it. Everyone I know prefers one over the other, and I've gotten in the habit of asking during any lull in conversation. It's always good to know who you're dealing with.
Where do you stand between the camps of boiled peanut people and roasted peanut people? Here's what I can say about the difference between the two. All in good fun, of course.
First up, boiled peanut people. So, you're a real Southerner. You're likely no stranger to red-clay roads and stopping at your favorite roadside stand to grab a big, salty, juicy bag of boiled peanuts on the way to the beach or lake. Odds are, you've known the man who makes them for years. You're probably heading to the Gulf — somewhere like 30A or Orange Beach — or perhaps Atlantic-side to St. Simons Island or Hilton Head Island. Regardless, there's definitely a stocked cooler in the trunk with pimiento cheese and sweet tea. Jokes aside, boiled peanuts might seem bizarre to people outside the South, but there's just nothing like popping open a big, fat peanut in your mouth and slurping up all the juices. Once you start, it's hard to stop.
On the other hand, roasted peanut people. Not to be controversial, but I've found that die-hard roasted peanut fans can sometimes have a little bit of a superiority complex about the whole thing. They definitely think it's the more elevated choice, and they probably find something unsavory about the thought of touching (let alone eating) wet, soggy peanuts. "It's a texture thing," they might say. On one hand, I can agree that a crunchy, salty snack is pretty classic. On the other hand, I don't like anyone talking bad about my beloved boiled peanuts. Roasted peanut people tend to enjoy the finer things in life, and they're definitely bringing their own ingredients to make Ranch Water on the beach trip. Everything aside, I can always appreciate a crunchy, salty snack, so no hard feelings.
The loophole here is if it's someone who grew up loving dry-roasted peanuts and Coke. Crunchy, salty peanuts dropped into an ice-cold glass Coca-Cola bottle? Talk about a magical snack. Southerners have been enjoying this combo for decades, and it single-handedly gives roasted peanut people some bonus points.
It's also important to note that just because you're a boiled peanut person, it doesn't mean you can't also like roasted peanuts — and vice-versa. But if you could only bring one or the other to the family vacation, which would it be? There you go. That's your camp.