And we’ve been wondering about this time-honored Texas tradition: dumping peanuts into a bottle of ice cold Coca-Cola. Last week, the Houston Chronicle posed the question...is it really a Southern tradition, or is it just a favorite snack of generations past?
The Chronicle says it’s the former. In fact, they wrote, it’s “is actually among the more common traditions like comfort food and sweet tea.”
For me, the salty-fizzy snack is a favorite tradition. When I stumbled across that article last week, I was instantly taken back to a summer afternoon sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s pickup truck, a bottle of Coke sitting in the cupholder next to my dad’s Diet Coke, both fizzing after we’d poured a little 50-cent bag of salted roasted peanuts into the bottle. Something about the combination of the carbonated soda and the salty peanuts was a perfect treat on a summer day, not to mention fishing the peanuts out of the bottle was a fun game.
According to a 2013 blog on the Coca-Cola website, the snack may date back as early as the 1920s, when shelled prepackaged peanuts showed up in stores. There’s speculation that it started when folks who had to do manual labor couldn’t wash up before taking a snack or lunch break, so they’d just pour the peanuts in the bottle to avoid dirtying up their hands. Wide Open Eats has a similar theory, writing that the snack was popular among farmers and blue collar workers. In the song “Back When” Tim McGraw sings, “Don’t you remember the fizz in a pepper, peanuts in a bottle at 10, two and four?” (He’s referencing Dr. Pepper here, with the classic “Drink a bite to eat at 10, two and four” slogan, but it’s the same idea -- the Texas soda encouraged its customers to take a pep-me-up break at those times during the work day). According to the blog on the Coke website, it’s a popular snack from Texas to the Carolinas and everywhere in between.
Never had it before? Here’s how to do it right. First of all, go for a glass bottle of Coke. Everyone agrees the glass bottles taste better, right? If you can snag a bottle of Mexican Coke, all the better -- it’s bigger than your normal bottle of Coke, and it’s sweeter, too. Open up that bad boy and take a few gulps to drink it down a bit, then dump a sleeve of peanuts into it (you can buy these two-for-a-dollar at pretty much any convenience store or gas station). Wait for it to fizz up, then take a swig. It should taste sweet and salty, with slightly softened peanuts for an added crunch.
Josh Abbott Band demonstrates: