Foodways

Sub Catagories:
  • No categories
Clear

Entries - Entry Category: Foodways

Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is a nonprofit collaborative network of more than 400 hunger relief organizations across Arkansas working to alleviate hunger in the state. Members include the Arkansas Foodbank in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro (Craighead County), Harvest Texarkana Regional Food Bank in Texarkana (Miller County), Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in Norfork (Baxter County), Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Bethel Heights (Benton County), and River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), as well as numerous food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Arkansas has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. More than twenty-eight percent of Arkansas families with children experience food insecurity on …

Ashley, Eliza Jane

Eliza Jane Burnett Dodson Ashley spent more than thirty years as the cook in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, serving from the administration of Francis Cherry to Bill Clinton. Her 1985 book Thirty Years at the Mansion garnered her national attention. Eliza Jane Burnett was born in Pettus Township in Lonoke County on the Oldham Plantation on October 11, 1917. She was the daughter of William Burnett and Eliza Johnson Burnett. Eliza, who carried the same name as her mother, was often referred to as Liza or Janie. Although she had spent some time in Little Rock (Pulaski County) with her mother as a teenager, she was working on the Oldham Plantation when she married Calvin Dodson in 1933. Louis Calvin …

Atkins Pickle Company

Atkins Pickle Company was the major industry in the town of Atkins (Pope County) for more than fifty years, and its legacy survives in the annual Picklefest celebration that began in 1992. The building that housed the pickle plant now houses Atkins Prepared Foods. The new company employs more people than the pickle plant did at its end, but it does not provide the same level of recognition for the town once dubbed the “Pickle Capital of the World” and known as the home of the fried dill pickle. In 1946, a group of citizens led by Lee Cheek raised $17,000 for a loan to the Goldsmith Pickle Company of Chicago, which had agreed to invest $75,000 of its money …

Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival

The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival celebrates the pink tomato industry in southeastern Arkansas. Originally a one-day event, it has become a weeklong celebration that attracts approximately 30,000 people each year. In June 1956, the first Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival was held in Warren (Bradley County). Loran Johnson, who was director of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, was one of the founders of the festival. The one-day event included musicians, a carnival, and exhibits. Each year, a chairperson of the festival was chosen. A parade and beauty pageant were added the second year. Another festival event began after Jean Frisby, who was the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) home economist for Bradley County, and Loran Johnson, who …

Breweries

Beer brewing in Arkansas dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. Documentation on early beer brewing in Arkansas, however, is sparse. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Little Rock Brewery operated until 1920. The Joseph Knoble Brewery operated in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) from 1848 to 1881. After that, however, breweries did not begin operating in the state again until well after Prohibition ended in 1933. As German immigrants migrated to and settled in Arkansas, especially in the western portion of the state, many found homesteads near Fort Smith, where the state’s best-known historic brewery is located. Built circa 1848, the Joseph Knoble Brewery served locals until 1881. Joseph Knoble, a native of Wittenberg, Germany, constructed this three-story building using typical …

Bruno’s Little Italy

Bruno’s Little Italy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is one of the most well-known restaurants in central Arkansas, serving authentic Neapolitan food since 1949 and introducing hand-tossed pizza to Arkansas. It was founded by Vincent “Jimmy” Bruno and continues in the twenty-first century with his sons and grandson, although it has operated in several locations with brief interruptions over the years. Known for its fine food and also for the many photos of celebrities on the walls, it has been recognized as having the best Italian food in the United States. Giovanni Bruno emigrated from Naples, Italy, in 1903 to join his brother in opening one of New York’s first pizzerias—actually a bakery from which they served pizzas. He was …

Caviar

Arkansas caviar, which is distributed nationally, consists of eggs from certain freshwater fish caught in the state’s rivers. The commercial fishermen who supply the product to wholesalers generally obtain the eggs from the Arkansas, Mississippi, White, Cache, and St. Francis rivers in eastern Arkansas from late November until early April. The eggs come from paddlefish (commonly referred to in the Arkansas Delta as spoonbill catfish), shovelnose sturgeon, and bowfin. Armenian brothers Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian often are credited with popularizing caviar in Paris, France, in the 1920s and spurring a worldwide interest in the product. Paddlefish eggs make up the majority of the Arkansas caviar that is harvested. Paddlefish can be distinguished by their large mouths and elongated snouts, called the rostrum. …

Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards and Winery

One of several new vineyards in Arkansas, Chateau Aux Arc of Altus (Franklin County) promotes itself as the largest planter of Cynthiana grapes in the world as well as the largest planter of Chardonnay grapes in the United States outside of California. Chateau Aux Arc is named for the French term meaning “at the bend,” which is generally believed to be the origin of the name “Ozark.” The winery is owned and operated by Audrey House, who started it in 2001 at the age of twenty-five. House was born in Oklahoma in 1976 but lived in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1989 to 1994; she graduated from Pulaski Academy. She then studied psychology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, …

Cheese Dip

Cheese dip is considered to be an important part of Arkansas’s food culture. Not only is cheese dip more popular in the Arkansas area than in other parts of the country, but some claim that the original cheese dip was invented either in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) or Hot Springs (Garland County). According to Nick Rogers, who has researched the history of cheese dip, the dish was invented by Blackie Donnely, the original owner of Mexico Chiquito restaurants. The Mexico Chiquito chain, which now has multiple locations in central Arkansas, was opened by Donnely and his wife in North Little Rock in 1935. Whether or not Donnely’s cheese dip was the first is hard to say, but his restaurant …

Cowie Wine Cellars

On August 17, 1967, Cowie Wine Cellars was established as a federal and state bonded winery in Paris (Logan County), fulfilling the lifelong passion of founder Robert Cowie, who had begun making wine as a hobby at age fifteen. Cowie Wine Cellars remains, by choice of its founder, the smallest winery in the state, though it has won a number of state and national awards, in particular for its Cynthiana and Robert’s Port. Robert Cowie built his winery, originally a small metal building, on the former property of St. Ann’s School, just west of Paris at Carbon City, in 1969. Three years later, his family was able to build a house on the property and move to the winery site, …

Diamond Bear Brewery

Diamond Bear Brewery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) revived beer brewing in the state of Arkansas. Its name is derived from two previous monikers used by Arkansas: the “Diamond State” and the “Bear State.” Russ Melton, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Bear, served in the military in Germany for four years, where he acquired a taste for fine beers. He and his wife, Sue Melton, came up with the concept of a local brewery in 1999 and, along with seven other owners, started production in the fall of 2000 at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) facility. The mission statement of the company is: “To provide the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region with their own local brewery, which produces great …

Food and Foodways

Because nutrition is essential to human survival, the production and consumption of food has been central to life in what is now Arkansas for more than ten thousand years. Evolving social customs dictate when, where, and how food is presented. Because of Arkansas’s ties to rest of the South, as well as to the Southwest and Midwest, the core components of local food preparation followed traditional “American” lines, with little impact being felt from the small immigrant population. The globalization of food, mostly via restaurants, came generally after 1960. Prehistory The first humans in Arkansas, the Paleoindians, were hunter-gatherers. Despite Arkansas’s lack of excavated and analyzed sites, evidence from adjacent areas suggests that besides hunting the now-extinct mega animals (mammoths, …

Franke’s Cafeteria

Franke’s Cafeteria was established by C. A. Franke in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1924. It is widely recognized as a culinary institution in the city and is one of the oldest restaurants in Arkansas. After leaving the military, C. A. Franke opened a doughnut shop in 1919 on West Capitol Avenue and then a bakery at 111 West 3rd Street in 1922. After determining that bakeries would soon spread and start competing with his own, he sold the bakery to Safeway and switched to the cafeteria business. He opened the first Franke’s Cafeteria in 1924 at 115 West Capitol. Since the 1920s, the cafeteria has seen four generations of Franke family members take the helm of the business. C. …

Fried Dill Pickles

In 1960, Bernell “Fatman” Austin (born on February 26,1921) leased a parcel of land east of Atkins (Pope County) from Griffin Oil Co. for ten dollars a month and began building a drive-in restaurant. The Duchess Drive In, a small pink building, opened for business in April 1960, just across the highway from Atkins Pickle Plant, the pickle capital of Arkansas. As business increased, with U.S. 64 being the main road to Little Rock (Pulaski County), Austin started toying with the idea of a gimmick to attract additional business. The first fried dill pickles ever sold anywhere were sold in the summer of 1963 at fifteen cents for an order of fifteen hamburger slices. They still did not taste or …

Grapette International, Inc.

Grapette soda was developed by Benjamin Tyndle Fooks in Camden (Ouachita County) in 1939. Once one of the bestselling non-cola soft drinks in the United States, Grapette virtually disappeared from the marketplace for most of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s after being bought by a leading competitor. As the twenty-first century began, Grapette International in Malvern (Hot Spring County), the last remaining subsidiary of Fooks’s Grapette Company, re-acquired the Grapette and Orangette trademarks, reuniting the original flavors with the brand names. Currently Grapette, Orangette, and two other flavors made by Grapette International are distributed nationwide exclusively in Walmart Inc. stores as part of their store brand line of soft drinks. Fooks bought a soft-drink bottling plant in Camden in 1926 …

Greek Food Festival

aka: International Greek Food Festival
The Greek Food Festival, which is organized by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is an annual three-day event that raises money for the church and for charities around Arkansas. In 2008, approximately 30,000 people attended to enjoy the food and entertainment. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox church was founded in 1913 and, a few years later, received an official church charter. By 1921, the members had their first building, at 15th and Center streets. For more than thirty years before they began the Greek Food Festival, members had a church pastry sale offering Greek food. The church moved to Napa Valley Drive in 1983 and began the first official Greek Food Festival that June. The one-day …

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, a nationally known eatery in Marianna (Lee County), is perhaps the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Arkansas, as well as perhaps the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the South owned by a black family. In addition, it is the state’s first recipient of the James Beard Award, which many in the food community consider one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a chef or restaurant. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner has drawn barbecue enthusiasts from around the world while maintaining its important position in this rural Arkansas community. No one is sure when the restaurant first opened, but multiple generations of the Jones family have manned the pits. Some version of the diner has been serving …

Kream Kastle

The Kream Kastle is a family owned and operated restaurant located at 112 North Division Street in Blytheville (Mississippi County). It has achieved a regional and state reputation for both its food and for its history as a central meeting place in the Blytheville community and as part of the larger Delta culture. A son of first-generation Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, Steven Johns started the business in July 1952 in a small building with window service only. In its early days, the Kream Kastle was a high-volume/low-overhead hot dog stand. As the menu expanded, so did its transition to a full-fledged drive-in. Before outdoor speakers, Johns employed car hops who wore white uniforms in all weather. Later, covered parking and …

Lassis Inn

Lassis Inn is a catfish restaurant located at 518 East 27th Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), founded in about 1905 by Joe and Molassis Watson. Its first known advertising listing was in the Arkansas Gazette in 1931. Originally, Joe Watson sold sandwiches out of the back of the Watson home, and when he later added catfish to the menu, sales rapidly increased. Eventually constructing a separate building for their food business, the Watsons relocated the building in 1931 to its current location, moving it a short distance once in the 1960s to accommodate the construction of Interstate 30 near Roosevelt Road. They had apparently intended to call the establishment the Watson Inn but decided on the derivative of Molassis …

Lindsey, Donnie Lee, Sr.

Donnie Lee Lindsey, longtime bishop within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Arkansas and noted businessman, founded the regionally famous Lindsey’s Barbecue in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015. Donnie Lee Lindsey was born in Bluff City (Nevada County) on April 17, 1924, to Newton Lindsey and Anna Lindsey. His father was a sharecropper. By the 1930 census, he had one brother and four sisters. The family moved to the Maumelle (Pulaski County) area when Lindsey was four years old. In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Lindsey described himself as a rebellious youth who dropped out of school, only returning at age seventeen to attend the …

Lost Forty Brewing

Located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Lost Forty Brewery was founded in 2014 by John Beachboard, Scott McGehee, Albert Braunfisch, and Russ McDonough. The micro-brewery takes its name from a forty-acre forest in Calhoun County known by locals as the “Lost Forty.” The forest’s virgin hardwood and pine trees are owned by the Potlach Corporation. In 1996, the Potlatch Corporation and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) entered a forty-year cooperative to conserve the forest. Lost Forty Brewery began raising funds for the initiative as well as other ANHC conservation and protection initiatives by forming a new non-profit, the Lost Forty Project Foundation, in partnership with the ANHC. In January 2014, Brewer, Beachboard, McDonough, and McGehee of the Yellow …

Malnutrition

Social, environmental, and political forces have influenced—and often hindered—Arkansans’ access to nutritious food. From outright hunger to nutrient-specific deficiencies like pellagra, malnutrition contributed to stereotypes about “lazy southerners” Through much of the state’s history. The American Mercury’s 1954 description of Arkansas as a land of “malnutrition, mental disability, hookworm, [and] hogs” did little to refute this stereotype. Although nutrition interventions focused heavily on the Delta area by the conclusion of the twentieth century, Arkansas as a whole received the dubious distinction as having the fifth-highest rate of food hardship in the nation of all states in 2012, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Historical BackgroundSome of the earliest evidence of malnutrition in what is now Arkansas can be traced …

McClard’s Bar-B-Q

McClard’s Bar-B-Q is a family-owned and -operated restaurant located at 505 Albert Pike in Hot Springs (Garland County). It has achieved national recognition not only for its food but also for the prominent political figures who visit the restaurant and extol its virtues, including former president Bill Clinton. Alex and Gladys McClard owned the Westside Tourist Court in Hot Springs in the 1920s, which was located west of the current restaurant’s location on Albert Pike. According to the official history of the restaurant, a destitute traveler could not pay the $10 he owed for his two-month stay at the tourist court. The traveler asked the McClards to accept a recipe for what he called “the world’s greatest bar-b-que sauce” in …

Minute Man

Minute Man of America was a pioneering fast-food chain founded by Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Wesley T. (Wes) Hall (1915–2002). At the height of its operation during the 1960s and 1970s, Minute Man had fifty-seven locations—some franchised, some company-owned—in Arkansas and seven surrounding states. By 2018, the only Minute Man location in operation was in El Dorado (Union County). The first Minute Man restaurant opened at 407 Broadway in Little Rock on May 26, 1948, as a coffee shop with twenty-four-hour service. Hall had three partners at the time: Oliver Harper, Walter Oathout, and Alton Barnett. In 1956, Hall bought out the other partners and converted the flagship store on Broadway into a fast-food establishment. A historical marker was …

Mount Bethel Winery

Mount Bethel Winery in Altus (Franklin County) is the third oldest winery in the state and is a part of the tradition of Arkansas winemaking established by Swiss Catholic immigrants who settled in the western part of the state in the late eighteenth century. Like other wineries in Arkansas, it remains a family-owned and -operated enterprise and has won many awards for its product. Mount Bethel Winery, named after the old church and school district located there, was founded on August 8, 1956, by Eugene Post, who had earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and so entered the wine business with a good knowledge of fermentation and the aging of wine. Eugene …

Official State Cooking Vessel

aka: Dutch Oven
The Dutch oven was adopted as the state historic cooking vessel to indicate the significance of the vessel in the Arkansas’s history. Dutch ovens were brought into the state by the explorers and early settlers and were in wide use by the early 1800s. By the time of statehood, most homes probably had Dutch ovens in use on their fireplaces. The Dutch oven is neither a pot nor a kettle. It is a cast iron vessel that has three legs to provide stable support and to provide space under the oven for coals to heat the oven from the bottom. The oven has a flat bottom and a tight-fitting lid to contain the heated pressure in the oven; the lid …

Ohio Club

The Ohio Club at 336 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is considered Arkansas’s oldest continually operating bar. It was founded by John “Coffee” Williams and his nephew, Sam Watt, in 1905. It became a popular watering hole and meeting place for notorious figures such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as local legends like Owen “Owney” Madden and Arkansas gambling czar William Stokley Jacobs. The Ohio Club has never closed its doors despite bans on both gambling and alcohol. The Ohio Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District on June 25, 1985. In 1905, Coffee Williams and Sam Watt …

Post Familie Vineyards and Winery

Post Familie Vineyards and Winery is located on state Highway 186 in the town of Altus (Franklin County), on the old farm of Professor Joseph Bachman, a noted creator of new grape varieties. Post Familie Winery has its origins in the immigration into the area of German and Swiss Catholics in the 1880s—which made Altus one of the leading wine communities in the state by the turn of the century—and is today one of the 100 largest wineries in the nation. The great-grandfather of this branch of the Post family was Jacob Post, who made wine along with his wife, Anna. Originally, the family made wine from wild grapes as well as other fruits and berries before acquiring grape cuttings …

Prohibition

Prohibition, the effort to limit or ban the sale and consumption of alcohol, has been prevalent since Arkansas’s territorial period. The state has attempted to limit use of alcoholic beverages through legal efforts such as establishing “dry” counties, as well as through extra-legal measures such as destroying whiskey distilleries. Since achieving statehood in 1836, prohibition has consistently been a political and public health issue. As early as the 1760s, European settlers at Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) took steps to limit alcohol use by Quapaw Indians living in the area. When the area was under Spanish control, British traders successfully maneuvered to trade goods and spirits in Arkansas, plying the Quapaw with rum despite a Spanish law prohibiting the furnishing of …

Salt Making

Salt making was an enterprise carried out in Arkansas for more than 600 years, first by the prehistoric Native Americans, who began to make salt around AD 1400, during the time in which they adopted a diet rich in corn and other domesticated plants. Salt was desirable for flavoring stews and other corn dishes, and it was an important nutrient for people living in a hot climate. It may have had a number of other uses, including for rituals, but it was not commonly used by Indians then to salt meat in much the same fashion that Europeans were accustomed to. European explorers and American settlers made salt for their own uses and for sale, until good quality, commercially available …

Tamales

Tamales are found on restaurant menus and at roadside stands throughout Arkansas and have been a vibrant foodways tradition in the state for generations. This ancient food with roots in Latin America has had a presence in Arkansas and other parts of the American South since at least the early twentieth century. The familiar ingredients (meat and meal) made tamales popular, as did the practicality of being able to take a warm and filling lunch into a cotton field. There are a handful of hypotheses to help explain how and when tamales crossed the southern border into the United States to become a popular food in the South. Some think there might be a Native American connection. Others opine that …

Wiederkehr Weinfest

Wiederkehr Wine Cellar’s Weinfest is one of the oldest and best-attended festivals in western Arkansas. The first Wiederkehr Weinfest was in 1963, and the event continues to be an annual attraction for locals and tourists. Weinfest celebrates the heritage of the Swiss-German immigrants who settled in Wiederkehr Village atop St. Mary’s Mountain near the city of Altus (Franklin County) during the 1880s. Al Wiederkehr, the winery founder’s grandson, initiated the festival after he returned from an oenological (relating to the study of wine and winemaking) research trip to Europe. During his expedition, he traveled to wine- and grape-producing countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and attended a variety of local festivals. When he came home, he realized that having a …

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Inc.

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is the oldest operational winery in the state, having been continually in business from 1880 to present. During Prohibition, when wine was outlawed, Wiederkehr was allowed by the state to produce sacramental wine for use in religious services. This winery was founded in the late nineteenth century by Johann Adreas Wiederkehr, an immigrant from Switzerland who settled in Altus (Franklin County), which he found similar to his own homeland and ideal for growing grapes; it is now one of the largest wineries in the region and is well regarded throughout the nation for the quality of its wines. One of the first things that Johann Wiederkehr did after he arrived in Altus was to start construction on …

Wineries

Winemaking in Arkansas began when European Catholics, primarily German-Swiss but also Italian, immigrated to the state, attracted by the range of opportunities the then-frontier had in store. Chances are that wine was made at the Hinderliter Grog Shop in Little Rock (Pulaski County), built around 1827 by Jesse Hinderliter, a man of German descent, and currently the oldest standing building in the city. In addition, there are accounts of a winery run by one J. Ressor about six miles south of Batesville (Independence County) in the 1830s and records of German immigrants in the small town of Hermannsburg (Washington County) making wine as early as 1845. However, the wine industry of Arkansas really took root in the 1870s. At that …