Regional Oddities

As I’ve traveled across the country, I’ve discovered some unusual regional customs, foods and other miscellany. Here are a few:

In Missouri, radio stations announce lists of funerals that will be taking place each day, with the name of the deceased and date, time and location of each funeral for that day. Also, roadsigns along many roads point the direction to nearby cemeteries.

Also in Missouri, many of the highways are designated with letters rather than numbers. For example, “Highway DD”, “Route J”.

In Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, there are long stretches of highway where the “Seek” button on the car radio spins through the entire range of frequencies on the FM dial and finds NOTHING and just keeps spinning through the numbers. Apparently “Seek and ye shall find” doesn’t always apply to radio stations.

Throughout the Midwest, “American Owned” is used frequently as a description on billboards and other advertisements for many types of businesses.

Along many roads in Oklahoma, roadside picnic tables under little roofed pavilions are a common sight and signs announce their presence several miles ahead of each one. A nice touch of hospitality for weary travelers!

Having your own little personal oil rig on your land is common in Oklahoma and Texas.

In Oklahoma and Kansas, tornado warning siren towers are more common than cell phone towers.

Throughout the Southwest, people tend to give directions in terms of compass direction (north, south, east, west) instead of saying whether to turn left or right. For example, they’ll say, “Go north on Lincoln Avenue, then when you get to 1st Street, go east.” Works great if you happen to have a compass in your vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up lost…

“Throwed rolls” are a unique specialty that you can get ONLY at Lambert’s Café in the Missouri Ozarks.

“Fried pies” are a Southern specialty that you can find in restaurants in Tennessee and Oklahoma. McDonald’s TOTALLY stole this idea from them. Remember McDonald’s “hot apple pies” back in the days when they were deep fat fried and crunchy with filling so hot it could sear your lips and tongue? They came in a cardboard sleeve that you could use to hold onto the pie as you carefully took a tiny first bite (just to break through the deep-fried crust), then blew on it like crazy until you were lightheaded, trying to cool the filling enough to eat the rest of it. Sadly, McDonald’s stopped making the fried version in the early 1990’s in favor of a supposedly healthier baked version.

“Frito pie,” however, is nothing like “fried pie”. Frito pie starts with a generous layer of Fritos corn chips, topped with heaping spoonfuls of chili (kidney beans, ground beef, tomatoes) and topped with a thick layer of melted cheese. Found in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, it’s heart-stoppingly delicious (perhaps literally!)

“Indian fry bread” is a Native American tradition (mostly among Navajo tribes) – it’s a flatbread made from flour, salt, baking powder and water, and deep fried. It’s often then used to make…

“Indian tacos” consist of most of the same ingredients put in other tacos (ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, chiles), piled on top of a piece of fry bread.

I found an interesting story about the history of Indian fry bread here

Of course, no one in any of these places finds any of this odd or strange. And I’m sure anyone visiting Lancaster would discover plenty of odd customs, activities, and foods that we find “normal” (shoo-fly pie comes to mind!)

What fun it’s been on this trip to explore the differences from place to place as well as to discover the things that connect us all! (more on that in another blog)

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What’s the most unusual regional/local custom, food or other “oddity” you’ve ever found in your own travels?

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: grace goes to prison book tour

Next: One

Previous: Small Town Wonders