Biscuit Man

Fourteen-year-old Hayden from Maryland, sent me a letter asking what my favorite food is. Hayden says that her personal favorite food is apple pie with melted cheese on top.

All I can say is: Hayden, you can enjoy that pie all by yourself. Because I’d rather lick a mule between the ears than put cheese on apple pie. But then, who am I to judge? Someone wise once said: “Just because we can’t agree doesn’t mean that you’re not a complete wacko.”

Anyway, to answer your question, Hayden, my all-time favorite foods have changed over the years. When I was a baby, my mother said that I would eat entire blocks of cheddar while in my high chair. My mother, who thought it was adorable to see a child gnawing on a brick of cheese, would take photographs of me, thereby documenting the origins of my longtime childhood weight problem. But I eventually grew out of the cheese fascination and I moved onto:

Mashed potatoes.

The women in my family make delicious mashed potatoes using an ancient family recipe:

—1 potato.
—80 sticks of butter.
—Accidental bits of cigarette ash.

Also, my mother did not whip her potatoes with electric mixers like the pagans. She had an actual hand masher, covered in rust so that it looked like a tiny tetanus-covered farm implement. I would always lick the masher when she finished. This explains a lot of my developmental problems.

Also, I love collards. And the only way to cook greens is with the ugliest, most deformed ham hock knuckle you can find.

And, bacon. I do not believe that all bacon is created equal. The bacon I like is the hand-cut kind your granddaddy would spend his hard earned money on.

Let the record show that I also love fried chicken. Throughout certain periods of my life, this food was the only reason why I remained a member of the Baptist church.

I love fresh caught redfish, speckled trout, red snapper, grouper cheeks, fresh shrimp, and raw oysters. A lot of people cringe when I talk about oysters as though I’m talking about wolf snot on the half shell. But in my family, oysters are a big deal. My granny made oyster dressing every holiday season. My father-in-law made a great oyster stew. We received oysters for presents each Christmas. (“Oh, look what Uncle John got you, Sean! A dozen raw!”)

I love pound cake. Banana pudding. Chess pie. Lemon icebox pie. And, of course, Conecuh sausage.

Today, this brand of sausage, which is manufactured in Evergreen, Alabama, has become hugely popular. It even recently became the official sausage of the Atlanta Braves baseball team—which I think is great. I personally love that professional baseball franchises have their own official sausages nowadays.

MICKEY MANTLE: Hey Roger, what’s our official team sausage again?

ROGER MARIS: I dunno, Mick, is it Jimmy Dean Heat ‘n Serve?

But I remember when you couldn’t find Conecuh sausage anywhere but rural convenience stores, or the IGA in Brewton, Alabama.

When I used to go fishing with my buddies, it was a special treat to have this sausage, we would cook up a few packages and eat it all day long until our cardiologists disowned us. In fact, for entire periods of my adult life I survived on two things. Conecuh sausage and:


Ah, biscuits. Long ago, a friend wrote a short biography for one of my magazine articles. In the bio, my friend referred to me as a “biscuit connoisseur,” and the title stuck. Pretty soon, people started calling me this. And whenever I would deliver a speech at, say, a Rotary Club bingo night at Craters of the Moon, Georgia, they would introduce me as “Sean Dietrich, biscuit connoisseur.”

I have eaten biscuits in 34 states. And here’s what I have learned in my travels.

Mississippi has light, fluffy ones that remind you of heaven.

The Florida Panhandle has big fat ones that stick to your ribs.

Georgia and Alabama make biscuits that will make you believe in the power of lard.

West Virginians eat biscuits with two hands.

Tennesseans eat them with three.

Canadians eat croissants.

They even eat biscuits in New York City. A lot of trendy restaurants are now serving what they call “upscale Southern-style cuisine.” I have been to these restaurants and tried the aberrations they tried to pass off as biscuits. And my reaction is: Metropolitan New Yorkers wouldn’t know a real biscuit from their own astrological sign.

I would list all the other foods I love, Hayden, but I’m out of room. And there are way too many foods to name. Besides, I have to go to the kitchen to lick the potato masher.

Remember: Friends don’t let friends put cheese on apple pie.


  1. Audrey - April 1, 2022 6:47 am

    Apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze. Just saying.

    • Sue Ellen Terrell - April 1, 2022 3:26 pm

      I’m with you!! My grand dad always had a big wedge of cheddar with his Apple pie!

    • didyouseethis - April 2, 2022 3:31 am


  2. Nena M - April 1, 2022 6:52 am

    “Accidental bits of cigarette ash” Sean, you beat all!

  3. Steve McCaleb - April 1, 2022 7:21 am

    In the American South the ability to make an excellent from scratch cat head biscuit has sealed more matrimonial deals than beauty, character and wealth put together. In the words of the immortal Jerry Clower “ you don’t want no woman who makes Whop biscuits”. This is by no means an ethnic slur…..whop being the sound canned biscuits make when you whomp them across the kitchen counter to open them. I once heard my stepmother ask my father if he wanted biscuits or toast….the part I can repeat was something to the effect of “rather eating a Waust nest than a price of toast”. This being rural Alabama you’ll notice the non- use of the word “wasp”. I thought that word was a spelling error until well into my 30s. Still do.

  4. Leigh Amiot - April 1, 2022 9:00 am

    Out of the sea, red snapper or grouper; on land, chicken, about any way it’s cooked; out of the earth, a potato, about any way it’s cooked or a sweet potato, which is said to not really be a potato at all, rutabaga with lots of coarse ground pepper, vidalia or peru sweet onions to flavor it all; above the ground, turnips, grown at home tomatoes, butter beans, baby limas; and fruit, banana, pineapple, red grapes; from the oven, a hot skillet of cornbread (mine has onion, sour cream, and creamed corn in it), and for dessert, a piece of pound cake made from scratch…good groceries, let’s eat!

    And in Hayden’s defense, my late mother used to enjoy a thin slice of cheddar cheese on a Nilla wafer cookie. Sweet and savory is good!

    Never before stopped to think of my favorite foods, Sean, not sure I can pick just one and certain I left out many!

  5. Connie - April 1, 2022 10:52 am

    Melted cheddar on apple pie, yes please!!
    Melted cheddar on doughnut, yes please!
    Just give it a try, Sean.

  6. Joy Jacobs - April 1, 2022 11:04 am

    I still have memories of my grandmother standing over her pressure cooker hand mashing the potatoes with the occasional cigarette ash falling in. ❤️ I’ve never found a food I couldn’t eat.

  7. franfluker - April 1, 2022 11:18 am

    I have a friend who lives in Savannah, a retired orthopedic surgeon. When he was on the late shift at the ER and people would come in, complaining of symptoms that were obviously the early warning signs of heart attacks, cardiac crisis he would refer to the problem as ‘biscuit poisoning’. Which, along with the ham and bacon, butter and gravy generally generously served with the biscuits, is likely true.

  8. Donna Beasley Oldford - April 1, 2022 11:19 am

    You are spot on about Yankee biscuits, with one exception. The biscuits at The Grand Central Station Oyster Bar (Yes, located in the bowels of Grand Central Train Station.) are something to behold. You can also get a dozen on the half-shell from about twenty different famous bays. Worth the visit. Don’t bother with the apple pie, though.

  9. Marie from NC - April 1, 2022 11:31 am

    Apple pie should be served warm, either plain or with vanilla ice cream. Fresh whipped cream will do in a pinch. Cheddar cheese has its place…..on pie is not it.

  10. Amy - April 1, 2022 11:54 am

    I immediately had to look up lemon icebox pie after I read this as I’d never heard of it before. You had me at lemon and now it’s on my list of “recipes to try”. Thanks!

  11. Tim Smith - April 1, 2022 12:11 pm

    I’m with Hayden on sharp cheddar and apple pie. My recipe for oyster stew is a quart of oysters, a pound of butter and a half pint of milk. You’re welcome.

  12. Becky Kaufman - April 1, 2022 12:13 pm

    I’m so sorry that you seem to be unfamiliar with the adage “Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.” My father used to say this every time we had apple pie. I’d rather have a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, but cheese should not be disdained.

  13. Jim Rives - April 1, 2022 12:13 pm

    Sean… Catheads?

  14. Joe+Bolton - April 1, 2022 12:20 pm

    And it’s pronounced Kaa Neck Uh!

  15. Robert (Robin) Moore - April 1, 2022 12:46 pm

    Now, Sean! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Get a chunk of rat trap cheese, cut from a wheel in your favorite old country store. Place it beside a slice of Aunt Allie’s warm apple pie. Enjoy with steaming coffee laced with your favorite bourbon. I promise you. That’s good eat’n.

  16. Paul McCutchen - April 1, 2022 12:53 pm

    My wife is a GREAT Southern cook. My doctor asked her once what she cooked for breakfast. She said “Bacon or Red Links, Eggs and “Cat Head biscuits”.
    He looked at her and asked what a cat head biscuit was. She told him it was a lard biscuit cooked with lard and served with butter. I think his heart stopped for a moment, He asked her to only cook them on special days ….like Christmas. Most days I get regular biscuits made with vegetable oil and served with margarine but if I come to the table and butter is sitting there, I know what is coming … Christmas….Again.

  17. Pat Deas - April 1, 2022 12:56 pm

    Does your brain ever SLOW DOWN?

  18. Elizabeth Petty - April 1, 2022 12:57 pm

    While living in Germany, the commissary on Ramstein Air Base miraculously got a shipment of Conecuh sausage. Oh my lands!! I nearly cried when I saw it in the freezer. I only bought three packs that day and just knew it would be sold out when I went back the next week. But hallelujah, Conecuh sausage was an unknown to all the other wives in the area. I continued to buy several packs every week and when we moved home to Alabama last June, I only had one pack left in our freezer. I happily shared it with our German neighbor who now wishes he could get more. God bless the folks that make Conecuh sausage and God bless the U.S.A.!

  19. Nancy Crews - April 1, 2022 1:14 pm

    Cheese is for grilled cheese sandwich. That’s it!

  20. Shelton A. - April 1, 2022 2:15 pm

    My grandmother’s biscuits would have made you smile. I love oysters steamed and my brother, dad, and I would stop on the way to Rodanthe on the Outer Banks of NC to eat steamed oysters (with drawn butter, of course) as fast as they could be shucked. We’d eat 5-6 dozen and then have to give up and try to adjust the waistband of our pants. My Maw-Maw’s biscuits were a national treasure and I loved them…you would have, too. They were made with love (same for her fried chicken and fried okra). Blessings and peace

  21. caminomishelle - April 1, 2022 3:02 pm

    i must agree to disagree with you Sean. Good old Sharp Cheddar Cheese melted on top of my apple pie is so much better than plain or even yucky old vanilla ice cream.

  22. Mimi Phillips - April 1, 2022 3:27 pm

    Please tell Hayden that she set off a long forgotten craving in me…a slice of hot apple pie with a nice piece of melting cheddar on top!!!! As my late husband said about his love of peanut butter and horseradish sandwiches, “Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!”

  23. Tom Megow - April 1, 2022 3:34 pm

    Sean I read you every day. This is my first comment. TRUE southerns eat Nanner pudding, banana pudding is served at restaurants or cafeterias

  24. AlaRedClayGirl - April 1, 2022 3:59 pm

    No, save the cheese for a fried bologna and cheese sandwich. Ice cream or real whipped cream belongs on a slice of warm apple pie. I’ve always called cathead biscuits those that were the size of a cat’s head. Regardless of size, they must be swimming in butter with homemade jelly or drowning in sausage gravy. Gosh, I am hungry!

  25. Joy Amy Chanin - April 1, 2022 4:11 pm

    Just as you referred to Canadian biscuits as croissants, New York biscuits are called bagels! None better than NY bagels!

  26. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - April 1, 2022 4:12 pm

  27. Susie Flick - April 1, 2022 5:04 pm

    Pure comfort food – hand mashed potatoes & butter, homemade biscuits & butter!

  28. Linda Moon - April 1, 2022 6:28 pm

    Chess Pie! I haven’t thought about one of those in a long time. I’ll find my recipe and make one. And biscuits….my mother-in-law, Victoria Moon, made lots of them for her family of 14. You don’t need to remind me about the “no cheese on apple pie” mainly because I prefer cobblers to pies. After reading this Sean of the South post in my email, I scrolled down to another email: “A biscuit to make grandma proud”: Coincidence? I don’t think so!

  29. Mary - April 1, 2022 10:08 pm

    What exactly is Chess pie?

    • Sandi. - April 2, 2022 7:35 am

      Mary, chess pie has cornmeal in the custard part of the pie, and it’s DELICIOUS!

    • Dee Thompson - April 2, 2022 4:44 pm

      It’s an old-fashioned pie that is very much like a custard. Easy to make.

  30. Slimpicker - April 2, 2022 3:11 am

    A friend of mine that lives in Idaho has a very small dog named Biscuit.

  31. Dee Thompson - April 2, 2022 4:45 pm

    Sean, have you tried Wright’s Applewood Smoked Bacon? It will change your life. It’s like a cross between bacon and fatback. One bite and you will not care what the cardiologist says.

  32. Stacy - April 3, 2022 10:01 pm

    You had me at lemon ice box pie Sean! An early childhood favorite…while growing up in Huntsville. Rivaled the Tasty Kakes from Philadelphia (where the parents originated).

  33. Linda - April 4, 2022 2:03 am

    Fried pies! Peach or apple made with dried peach or apple slices. Still warm from resting at the end of family reunion picnic table with powdered sugar glaze dripping down the edges.

  34. Marie - April 4, 2022 2:29 pm

    I was raised in Mobile and love my biscuits. Now I live Wyoming, but raise my Cowboy grandson the southern way. A biscuit in one hand and a piece of bacon in the other!! Yeehaw!
    Tried to drop his picture, but wouldn’t let me! He is a cutie!

  35. Connee Luttrell - April 4, 2022 7:48 pm

    I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but have you EVER tried cheese on apple pie?? My husband’s favorite dessert is apple pie. Not sure he had cheese on it until my mother introduced it to him over 40years ago. He will take ice cream or maybe even cool whip but he really likes cheese on his apple pie it can just be a slice of American (those slices that come wrapped individually and say they have milk in them) or some cheddar but of course it should be melted on the pie slice ie warm pie in microwave add cheese, warm a bit longer. My mother learned this from some restaurant in NC when she and her parents were traveling by train to her brother’s wedding (sometime in the 1940’s). The restaurant had a sign that said Best Apple Pie in the World which was served with cheese. My mother would agree but she could certainly make a good one herself.
    And by the way I have a cookbook that shows a slice of cheese on a slice of apple pie. My mom was from PA. I grew up in AR, and my husband grew up in TX.
    Enjoy your posts.

  36. Martha - April 5, 2022 2:08 am

    My mouth is agape at reading some comments on here about “what is chess pie? What is lemon icebox pie?” These must be from some of those Gen Alphas ( I had to look it up. I haven’t kept up with the names since baby boomers.) must be because their mamas don’t do much cooking!

  37. George - April 8, 2022 7:27 pm

    For some reason I have not gotten your daily post for the past few days. I really enjoy them and look forward to reading them.

  38. Janette Campbell - April 12, 2022 4:20 pm

    One of the older men when I was growing up (I’m now in my late 70s) would insist on having gravy on top of his apple pie.

  39. Bobbi - April 16, 2022 4:42 pm

    Where I come from people would say, “apple pie without the cheese, is like a hug without the squeeze”. I personally like Velveeta with my pie.

  40. Susan W Fitch - April 18, 2022 9:30 pm

    Ya need some yummy VA biscuits!


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