Soda, peanuts and salt! Oh my! I have heard my daddy mention that he poured salted peanuts in soda when he was young. It has always sounded like a southern thing to me, and I was quite intrigued by the idea. So today, in my dedication to southern nostalgia, I went on two missions. The first was a quick fact-finding mission into this custom, and the second was a trip to the closest convenience store to gather my ingredients.
My online research gave me some important information. First of all, pouring peanuts into soda bottles seems definitely linked to the South. And what drink is this custom moth associated with? I couldn’t really narrow it down, but the drinks most often mentioned, and by order of frequency to the best of my memory: Coca-cola (never Coke!), Pepsi, RC Cola and Dr Pepper. I am pretty sure these beverages all have a southern pedigree.
Having braved a tornado warning, which is becoming more of a “southern thing” than it used to be, I returned from the gas station with my breakfast. Well, I don’t believe it is a traditional southern breakfast, but at 10:00 am, I hadn’t eaten yet, and I was missing my usual morning caffeine. But to be more culturally accurate, I will say that I returned from the store with my snack.
Now a few more points about cultural accuracy. I believe goobers and soda was, in the past, a treat most enjoyed in the afternoon, kind of like British tea. And it was especially popular on hot summer days in the south, a time and place that is NOT conducive to the drinking of hot British tea. And originally this treat would be consumed from a glass bottle.
I purchased two sodas. One was a Coca-cola Classic in a plastic bottle. If you have access to the Soda Giant in a glass container and want to try this, even better. The second bottle was truly a classic: RC Cola in a glass bottle. My local convenience store sales a variety of old-fashioned drinks in glass bottles. And my purchase included, of course, some snack-size plastic baggies of salted peanuts.
At home, I decided to try the Coca-cola and save the RC for another culture study. After cutting the top of the peanut pack, and spilling a few too many of the goobers on the table as I tried to pour them into the slender opening of the bottle while my eleven year old son watched, I explained to him that this was a treat his Dan Dan used to enjoy, and I asked him what he thought as we looked at the little round nuts bobbing on top of the fizzy Coca-cola. His response: “Interesting. I’d like to try it.” He’s surely a southern-born and southern-bred boy with an adventurous appetite.
I took a swallow. It truly allows one to eat their drink. A little salty. A little sweet. The fizzy bite of the soda. Not bad.
Vince got a little in a separate cup. He liked it, and asked for more peanuts. About a third of the soda was left in the bottle when I went to take care of a few things. Some salty goobers remained floating in the top. When I came back about an hour later and took another swig, it took me a bit by surprise. I actually liked it even better after the nuts had soaked up some of the soda and softened just a bit.
This is one of my experiments with southern culture, nostalgia-style! I hope you’ll try some. And if you don’t love it at first, well, just try soaking your goobers a bit. And I mean that in a very southern, lady-like way.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary it is a regional term and derived from a Kongo word (nguba).