10 Food-based Traditions from the American South


Holiday Pecan Pie

Pecan pie often shows up at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Pecan pie often shows up at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Food traditions run deepest during the holidays. Each person has his or her favorite dish, from appetizers to desserts. One lasting traditional holiday dessert is pecan pie, which originated in the South but has spread throughout much of the United States. Pecan pie lovers tend to whip up this dessert for fall and winter holidays, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, because pecan nuts ripen for harvest between September and December.

The pecan is native to North America -- specifically Texas and Mexico, according to research on fossils found in the area. In fact, Texas adopted the pecan tree as its state tree in 1919. And Albany, Ga., is known at the pecan capital; there are more than 600,000 pecan trees in the area [source: National Pecan Shellers Association]. Some believe the French invented pecan pie after settling in New Orleans; they arrived in the Louisiana Territory in the 1700s. But a company named Karo takes credit for today's pecan pie. Karo, which makes corn syrup, claims that the wife of a Karo executive came up with the recipe for pecan pie in the 1930s, when she mixed Karo corn syrup with sugar, eggs, vanilla and pecans. In fact, in the South, some people still call pecan pie "Karo Pie."