Tennessee summer treats you just can’t beat
Summertime is the perfect time to load up on frosted treats, downhome cooking and barbecue. These kinds of delights are even better when they have the Made-in-Tennessee stamp. Luckily, the following indulgences are readily available and make any summer sweeter and better.
The glorious MoonPie, a decadent combination of a graham cookie dipped in marshmallow, stacked with another cookie and generously coated in chocolate, is a Tennessee staple. Started in 1917, the MoonPie originally was made in Chattanooga by Chattanooga Bakery for coal miners who didn’t get a break for lunch; they needed something filling. Earl Mitchell, Sr. delivered and by the 1930’s the MoonPie became Southern folklore, named the “working man’s lunch.” It was the biggest snack on the rack and paired with a 10-oz RC Cola, workers could get both for a nickel. Today, nearly a million MoonPies are produced every day along with new flavors like banana, peanut butter and MoonPie Crunch. You can celebrate this Southern tradition next June at Bell Buckle, Tennessee’s annual RC Cola and MoonPie Festival.
Did you know Tennessee is home to its own chocolate factory? The Chocolate Factory in Knoxville, Tenn. features over 100 confections made-from-scratch and in small batches to ensure the best quality. Fine ingredients are used for these award-winning chocolates. Try a customer favorite: The Tennessee Walking Stick, crispy pretzel rods hand-dipped in caramel, rolled in fresh pecans and covered in milk or dark chocolate. You can even get chocolate molds like a camera, a $100 bill, alligators and more.
Cool off from the summer heat with frozen treats from Mayfield Dairy. T.B. Mayfield Jr. purchased 45 Jersey cows in 1910 and began delivering milk to his neighbors in Athens, Tenn. The next generation picked up where he left off and in 1950 built the Southeast’s most modern milk plant. Mayfield is one of the nation’s leading dairies today. From fresh, cold milk to delicious ice cream flavors like Blueberry Cream Pie, Extreme Moose Tracks and Snickerdoodle, Mayfield continues to offer great selections for its customers. You can visit the factory in Athens 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and learn how Mayfield churns out their delicious dairy products. i
Does your mouth feel as if it’s on fire? Then you must be eating Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, Tenn. This pilgrimage destination, recipient of the 2013 James Beard America’s Classic Award, is known for its spicy chicken that comes in three flavors – mild, medium or extra-hot. Lines are always long which means the chicken is always good. And I mean it when I say, it’s good. Locals and tourists alike can’t get enough of the balance of delicious chicken with the slap-in-the-face flavor. It’s highly suggested to start with mild or medium if you’re a first-timer. The chicken will have you sweating but it’s just too good not to finish. If you’re up for the challenge, try the extra-hot chicken but ye be warned, it’s hot as Hades.
Purity Dairies, located in Nashville, Tenn., has some of the best dairy products as it maintains a high standard of quality for its products. From vanilla bean to death by chocolate and chocolate raspberry truffle, there’s a flavor to satisfy any ice cream craving. After lazing about in the hot, summer sun, cool down with a bowl of Purity ice cream. The dairy was officially born in 1945 by Miles and Estelle Ezell after the dairy merged with Rosebank Dairies. Today, Purity leads the dairy industry in innovation and quality.
Cool down with a stop at Las Paletas (traditional Mexican popsicles) for the refreshing flavored popsicles. They come in a variety of unique flavors like blackberry lime, chocolate banana, peaches and cream dipped in chocolate, and hot chocolate chili. Located in the 12th South district of Nashville, Tenn. it’s a small establishment surrounded by boutiques, shops and other eateries. Each pop costs $2.50, so you can try multiple flavors and decide your favorite.
If your picturesque summer includes hearing jazz, blues and rock n’ soul, Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn. is the place to set yourself free. When you’re toes are tired from tapping and your stomach is growling louder than the baseline, head over to the world famous Blues City Café for some of the best barbecue you could ever eat. Get the “best meal on Beale” as the menu serves up a collection of barbecue ribs, steaks, fried catfish and claims “the world’s best homemade tamales.” Blues City Café has been featured on The Travel Channel, The Food Network and in Bon Appétit Magazine. Enjoy the BBQ Pork Po Boy, featuring a heaping portion of smoked pork shoulder served on a fresh hoagie roll and smothered in the famous Blues City Café BBQ Sauce. Chill it down with a side of coleslaw and you have a meal that’ll get your mojo working, just in time for the nightly live entertainment in the Band Box, featuring local artists who know how to rock.
Top your ice cream with farm fresh peaches, blackberries and strawberries from Jones Orchard in Millington, Tenn. The farm runs a pick-your-own system, so grab a basket and begin picking peaches, plums and nectarines. With over 25 varieties of peaches in production, Jones Orchard’s peaches span 110 acres of land. Use them for homemade pies or your own favorite recipe. Pick up an 8 oz. jar of plum jelly, blueberry jam or nectarine jelly in the Country Kitchen. Nothing is more refreshing than a cup of vanilla ice cream and wedges of juicy peaches or scrumptious strawberries. It’s a taste of the South!
In Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store in Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tenn. there is a recreated 1890’s Ice Cream Parlor & Fudge Shoppe.. Hailed by USA Today as “One of the Top 50 Ice Cream Parlors in America,” the parlor serves up delicious frozen treats like praline pecan, mint chocolate chip, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits and more. The tin ceiling and red wallpaper encourages you to sit and relax. Don’t forget to buy some homemade, delicious fudge for the rest of your road trip.
What’s your favorite Tennessee summer treat? Let me know in the comment box below!