Bourbon, Swamp Juices, and Coach Nick Saban in the Southern Sweets Showdown

Thanks to holidays, family commitments and this little thing we like to call “paying the bills,” this Southern Sweets Showdown is taking a while to get through just the first round. From here on out, in the interest of expediency, we’re going to have to keep it short. We’ll write up longer posts about the entrants when they make it to, say, the Sweets 16. Let’s face it, just like in the NCAA tourney, some of these competitors are merely cannon fodder for the bigger opponents … not that we don’t love a good barrage of cannon fire.

Today, we’re wrapping up the 10-seeds versus the 7-seeds. Before Thanksgiving, we gave you the match-ups in the PCD and CPIC regions.

Now for the other two:

From the Miscellany Region comes one of the stranger match-ups in the entire bracket. At #7, we have that melon every real Southerner adores, watermelon. We eat ’em chilled or hot and straight from the field. We compete to see who can spit their seeds farthest. We chunk ’em, pump them full of vodka and carve them into all kinds of crazy-cutesy bowls. If nothing else, the watermelon is versatile.

At #10 is Tupelo Honey. This rare, delectable treat is only produced one place in the world: in swamps of the river basins of the Ogeechee, Apalachicola and Chatahoochee Rivers in Northwest Florida. According to the Tupelo Beekeepers Association, it is the only honey that will not granulate and is often recommended by doctors and dietitians to their diabetic patients. It’s on this list, however, because it tastes amazing.

In the Hand-Held Treats Region, we’re pitting the #7 Bourbon Balls against the #10 Oatmeal Creme Pie.

As a kid, Bourbon balls were always a favorite treat, because you felt like you were really doing something wrong by partaking of them. And, if they’re made right, you were. The traditional home recipe features crumbled cookies, corn syrup, chopped pecans and, of course, lots of Bourbon. You seal them up, let them age for about a week and then serve them before all the alcohol evaporates. A completely different recipe, invented in Kentucky in 1936, is made with dark chocolate and a bourbon creme filling.

The most famous oatmeal creme pies come from McKee Foods’ Little Debbie brand in Collegedale, Tennessee. However, you can make your own at home by whipping up some creme filling and slathering it between two oatmeal cookies. Recently, oatmeal creme pies have reached a new level of fame as sportscasters have unveiled them as the secret to Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban’s success. Every morning, Heir Saban has a cup of coffee and two of the Southern sweets to start his day. We suspect Coach has done as much for cementing brand loyalty to the Little Debbie pies as Coach Bryant did for Golden Flake and Co-Cola.

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