For the Love of Cornbread

I don’t engage in controversy. But sometimes I have to. And this is one of those have-to moments.

Namely, because I feel it’s my duty as a citizen of this country to bring important matters to the forefront of a national discussion. And by “important matters,” I am, of course, talking about putting sugar in cornbread.

The other day I was reading one of my mother’s favorite magazines. This magazine is a respected publication. A standard in homes across the southeast.

I speak of a magazine which my mother reveres. She used to read this magazine aloud at Bible studies, baby christenings and baptisms. A periodical which shall remain nameless, but whose title rhymes with “Louthern Siving.”

The article stated, quote, “…The cornbread we consider our best, includes fine yellow cornmeal, butter, and a touch of sugar.”

I read this recipe aloud to my mother. My mother nearly choked on her dentures.

“Sugar in cornbread?” she gasped. “What’s this world coming to?”

Mama had to be calmed with cream cheese and pepper jelly.

Listen. I don’t like to cause problems, and these are only my opinions, but putting sugar in cornbread is a lot like going to church naked. Sure, it can be done. But don’t expect anyone to ask you over for dinner.

Cornbread is a sacrament to my people, often served with fried chicken, pintos, collards, hocks and greens, or stew. It is a savory dish. It’s not supposed to taste like purple Skittles.

If the good Lord had intended for humankind to eat sweet cornbread, he would have given us all insulin pumps.

And yet this problem persists in America.

Only a few days ago, I visited a restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee. It was one of those fancy joints where waiters and waitresses walk like they’re in need of fiber supplementation. The waitress brought me a hot basket of sweet cornbread.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said to the waitress. “There’s something wrong with my cornbread.”

“What’s wrong?” she said.

“Well, I think the chef spilled a box of Duncan Hines into the batter.”

“No, sir. We put sugar in our cornbread.”

“Why would you do such a thing?”

“Because our chef is from Chicago.”

For the love of Earnhardt.

Listen, I try to be a team player. I try to be a good person. I don’t have many overdue library books. I stay at the Holiday Inn Express when possible. But this is an affront.

The church ladies I descend from take their food very seriously.

When I was 6 years old, for example, Miss Henrietta Marcel, at the Baptist church, accused my grandmother of adding too much paprika to her deviled eggs.

After church, someone mysteriously slashed the tires to Miss Henrietta’s Buick. Nobody ever figured out who did it, but a jar of paprika was found wedged in her the exhaust pipe.

And while I’m on the subject of food, there is another item I’d like to bring to public attention.

Yesterday I went to a large chain restaurant which shall remain nameless but whose name rhymes with “International House of Pancakes.” I ordered country fried steak. When my food arrived something was off.

My steak came with white gravy.

Too often, restaurants mislabel “chicken fried” steaks as “country fried” steaks. And while I love both kinds of steaks, to confuse “chicken fried” and “country fried” is a lot like confusing Brigitte Bardot with Eleanor Roosevelt.

So I called my aunt Muffin for advice and asked her to weigh in on the “chicken fried” versus “country fried” dispute.

Aunt Muffin is an excellent cook. And not to brag, but my aunt Muffin’s fried fare is so legendary she was recently kicked out of the American Heart Association.

“What’s the difference between chicken fried and country fried?” I asked her.

Aunt Muffin was happy to reply.

“Chicken fried steak is a quality cut of beef, THICK battered, fried, topped with WHITE gravy and prayed over by at least three Church of Christ parishioners.”

Whereas, according to Aunt Muffin, “country fried” steak is made with cheaper cuts, THINLY battered, then topped with BROWN gravy, and in her opinion, unfit for scrubbing oil stains off driveways.

Now, I realize all this chicken-fried business might sound like splitting hairs. But among my folks the art of frying is sacred. Aunt Muffin went on to tell me there are four distinct styles of culinary frying.

There is “deep frying,” which is what KFC does; “pan frying,” or “shallow frying,” which is how you cook pork chops; “smother frying,” the only way to cook squirrel, rabbit, or quail; and “hell frying.”

Which is what happens to all people who put sugar in their cornbread.

113 comments

  1. Ed In Georgetown - November 2, 2022 6:45 am

    AMEN and BLESS YOUR HEART!!

    Reply
    • Mike - November 5, 2022 10:01 am

      You missed the point entirely. Cornbread is supposed to be fried.

      Reply
  2. Dotty Lou Farias - November 2, 2022 6:47 am

    One of your funniest and best articles yet all based in fact. I loved it.

    Reply
  3. Debbie - November 2, 2022 6:53 am

    I know my mom & grandma are dancing & laughing in heaven! Thank you Sean for the sweet reminders!!

    Reply
  4. Peter Grant - November 2, 2022 6:56 am

    As always a great story. I do have issues with many of the southern foods but I know cornbread has no sugar (thanks Charmion).

    Great seeing you Sunday evening in Franklin!

    Reply
  5. Adele Dimopoulos - November 2, 2022 7:00 am

    Sugar in cornbreas makes it cake. And whoever ate cake as a side to a savoury meal?

    Reply
  6. Bubbles - November 2, 2022 7:57 am

    I agree! No sugar in cornbread!

    Reply
  7. Perri Williamson - November 2, 2022 8:23 am

    We were destined to get sideways at some juncture. I’ve known it for ages. But I figured it was just an SEC disagreement I have with plenty of people I love only from middle January to early August. But now you’ve gone and done it. You threw your sucker in the dirt. All I have to say to this OFFENSIVE political assertion of superiority and rightness is…Geaux Jiffy mix!!!!

    Reply
    • Shea - November 2, 2022 11:47 am

      I grew up in Texas with thanksgiving dressing made with Jiffy. Savory, sagey, and … gasp… sweet. I loved it then as I love it now. I’ve no objections to unsweetened cornbread but you’ll never convince me my grandmother didn’t make the best damn dressing in the world.

      Reply
      • Clayta Richards - November 6, 2022 12:58 am

        You must be from North Texas.

        Reply
    • Loueffie - November 2, 2022 11:54 am

      🤣🤣🤣

      Reply
    • Cynthia - November 3, 2022 3:31 pm

      You must not be from around here.

      Reply
  8. Debbie - November 2, 2022 8:36 am

    It is an abomination to put sugar in cornbread. If you do, you are not a true Southerner but a Yankee! Everyone knows that. While as a Christian I love everyone; I believe those who put sugar in cornbread are pushed to the back of the line at the pearly gates.

    Reply
  9. Anissa Beard - November 2, 2022 8:54 am

    I am not a fan of the yellow meal for corn bread. It is great to fry fish but not for cornmeal. Cornbread is close to sacred. I grew up with it for supper every night. I like both the oven and the on top of the stove cornbread and you cannot cannot have beans without cornbread.

    Reply
  10. Nan - November 2, 2022 9:24 am

    If your Mother would share her cornbread recipe, I’d sure like to have it. Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Jennifer - November 2, 2022 9:31 am

    Sugar in Cornbread???
    NEVER😱

    Reply
  12. Mary - November 2, 2022 9:51 am

    Guess I’m one of those both-ways weirdos. I love homemade cornbread unsweetened (especially with jalapeños) and sweet cornbread too. Depends on what I’m having with it, but both are delicious. Gimme gimme!

    Reply
  13. Virginia Russell - November 2, 2022 9:54 am

    😂😂😂

    Reply
  14. Sandra - November 2, 2022 9:56 am

    Amen!

    Reply
  15. Ann - November 2, 2022 10:05 am

    A real “ good morning “ chuckle….and education 😂

    Reply
  16. Jean Sherrill - November 2, 2022 10:29 am

    We have to eat cornbread sometimes with sugar in it…..but my mother never put sugar in hers and I prefer the non sugar type and we never used YELLOW cornmeal….only the white. I love cornbread!

    Reply
  17. Roxanne - November 2, 2022 10:42 am

    AMEN!!! Preach on brother! And, as a member of the church of Christ, might I add that THE SAME GOES FOR GRITS!!!!

    Reply
  18. Oliver Rhett Talbert - November 2, 2022 10:45 am

    AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!!
    My other Southern cooking affront is putting sugar in collard greens – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?! (I mean that charitably. My Mama said to never make fun of “simple folk.”)

    Reply
  19. Diana - November 2, 2022 10:52 am

    Lol, I love starting my day reading you. This one is my favorite. I grew up on pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread. I’m not a big fan of cornbread, but I sure don’t want sugar in it.

    Reply
  20. Sandy - November 2, 2022 11:10 am

    This is up there with sugar in grits. No. Just. No.

    Reply
  21. Ruby A Koehn - November 2, 2022 11:22 am

    Sorry Sean, but my cornbread recipe has sugar in it and my husband likes it better if I even sprinkle sugar on top! Furthermore, it has more white wheat flour than cornmeal in it. Maybe we should give it a different name? Like Yankee cornbread?
    Northern Auntie in McPherson KS

    Reply
  22. Melanie “Nana” Herr - November 2, 2022 11:22 am

    Your writing brings both belly laughter and refreshing cleansing tears to my soul! Thank you for giving so many your gift of humor, compassion and sincere LOVE!

    Reply
  23. Allison Mackey Vardeman - November 2, 2022 11:23 am

    Oh My Goodness! This had me laughing first thing this morning! Just like drugs, say “NO” to sugar in cornbread! Born and raised in the south. Love your columns!

    Reply
  24. Susan - November 2, 2022 11:26 am

    So true! No sugar in cornbread! 😁😳

    Reply
  25. W G Hendricks - November 2, 2022 11:29 am

    Amen!

    Reply
  26. Leslie in NC - November 2, 2022 11:32 am

    Sugar in cornbread is an abomination to be sure, but you had me at cream cheese & pepper jelly…on a cracker!

    Reply
  27. Alice - November 2, 2022 11:39 am

    I live in Maryland but must be a southern sympathizer. No sugar in my cornbread and plenty of paprika on my deviled eggs, thank you very much. Wondering if chicken fried steak isn’t more like Ms. Roosevelt when one focuses on character traits.

    Reply
  28. JJ - November 2, 2022 11:44 am

    Sugar in cornbread is what happens when northerners make it. If you have ever eaten Boston Market “cornbread”, you know what I mean. It is like eating a Twinkie. Louthern Siving has clearly crossed over to the dark side.

    Reply
  29. Ben - November 2, 2022 11:45 am

    Amen..,

    Reply
  30. Sandra Mosolgo - November 2, 2022 11:50 am

    No sugar in my cornbread!

    Reply
  31. Priscilla Rodgers - November 2, 2022 12:14 pm

    Ain’t nothin better than southern cooking however you like it! Thanks for a great start to my day.

    Reply
  32. Ted - November 2, 2022 12:19 pm

    Beans and Cornbread!

    Reply
  33. Cheryl - November 2, 2022 12:27 pm

    Amen, brother!

    Reply
  34. Mary - November 2, 2022 12:33 pm

    If you want to get a good fight (not just an argument) started at a social gathering of born and bred Southerners, just raise the topics of (1) cornbread and (2) BBQ. I was raised on cornbread made without sugar and I don’t ever recall anyone ever using yellow cornmeal. And we fried our cornbread. As for BBQ, here in North Carolina, we fight over Lexington style vs. Eastern NC BBQ. As a child I heard adults talk about Eastern NC BBQ in hushed tones as though it were a sinful lifestyle.I just thank the good Lord that I was raised right and cannot be led astray.

    Reply
    • Trudy - November 2, 2022 2:10 pm

      Mary, I’ve lived my entire life a few miles from Lexington, NC. It’s always Lexington style for me, too

      Reply
  35. Stephanie D McCarley - November 2, 2022 12:37 pm

    I am silently laughing in my office while I read this spectacular article. This is writing at its finest. Thank you for the humor to start my day.

    Reply
  36. mccutchen52 - November 2, 2022 12:45 pm

    My wife has been making cornbread for, well as long as we have been married. NEVER put sugar in the mix but there was the time someone asked if she would like to put honey butter on her corn bread. She will be home next week, the judge is letting her out for good behavior but they said they will miss her in the kitchen.

    Reply
    • HavasuFlash - November 3, 2022 12:20 am

      Thanks, made me laugh

      Reply
  37. sflouden - November 2, 2022 12:47 pm

    Oh Lordy me…I have been sentenced to hell for my sugar in cornbread. I grew up with sugarless cornbread as a child…did not like it…but then again I did not like black eyed peas either as a child. However in my grown adult taste buds I love black eyed peas and cornbread…but with sugar added…now I believe in Jesus and trust Him and He is what will get me to heaven…and I just be willing to bet there will be some cornbread of all likes on the dinner table. Love you Sean 🙂

    Reply
  38. Kay Fulmer - November 2, 2022 12:49 pm

    You tell ‘em!!! NO Sugar in cornbread-ever!!!

    Reply
  39. Larry Ratliff - November 2, 2022 12:57 pm

    So true, cornbread can be made in numerous ways, drop bread, muffins, in an black iron skillet……..but never with sugar! Heck you can leave out a few ingredients (egg, buttermilk) or add a few, jalapeños, cheese, or corn………..but never sugar!

    Reply
  40. beachdreamer - November 2, 2022 1:01 pm

    Awesome! But I have to admit, tho a native Atlantan, I do like just a pinch of sugar in cornbread. I wasn’t raised with cornbread sadly. Everything goes back to your roots. And also have to admit I was never a cornbread lover until I discovered making it with buttermilk. I only had my ‘trial and error’ experiences…like trying to make biscuits like my sister-in-law with plain flour…a disaster. Went thru 5 pounds of plain flour till she told me had to use self-rising! Pitiful…but I eventually became a pretty good cook…am 87 now! My humble opinion, buttermilk and a tad of sugar is a must for cornbread. Thank you and bless you Sean for allowing us to give our opinions, at least on cornbread.

    Reply
  41. Mary Woolard - November 2, 2022 1:06 pm

    I have laughed so hard over this article! Corn bread was sacred when I was growing up however we were of the white meal denomination. Blazing hot cast iron skillets, bacon fat, buttermilk and, yes, a pinch of sugar.

    Reply
  42. Leigh Amiot - November 2, 2022 1:13 pm

    The best cornbread I’ve ever tasted/made comes from Lee Bailey who has undoubtedly been featured in that revered southern publication for his fine cooking. The recipe has creamed corn in it, and sometimes sugar is sneaked into cream corn… If that is an abomination, so be it! 😂

    Reply
  43. Dean Albright - November 2, 2022 1:14 pm

    Cornbread was not meant to be baked. Baking is for cakes and brownies. Cornbread should be fried like my grandmother’s perfect cornbread. Fried in bacon grease or lard, crispy edges. Maybe she will welcome me at the pearly gates with a plate full of them.

    Reply
    • Leigh Amiot - November 2, 2022 1:41 pm

      Grew up on that…we called it hoe cake. And it didn’t remotely taste like cake.

      Reply
  44. Peggy Shackleford - November 2, 2022 1:18 pm

    Thank goodness you addressed the problem of sugar in cornbread. Such a travesty! I’m going to forward your column to the restaurant where I had lunch yesterday and hope and pray for good results.

    Reply
  45. Katrina Butler - November 2, 2022 1:19 pm

    Sean I believe this is the funniest thing you’ve ever written. I guess we better not get you started on the sugar in chili debate. Thanks for starting my day with laughter!

    Reply
  46. Jennifer Dunford - November 2, 2022 1:20 pm

    I grew up on true southern cooking. I LOVE cornbread. I was on a trip and landed at an upscale restaurant in Ohio, and ordered chili and cornbread. The chili– well, I won’t even go there. But the cornbread came cut in a good sized square and had some sort of glaze on top. I had to use a fork to taste it because the consistency was so fine. The first (and only bite) tasted like birthday cake and nearly gagged me. I wanted to go to the kitchen and snatch the cooking license off the wall. I did manage to choke out the words, “you call this cornbread?” For the love of Aunt Jemima, get off my planet.

    Reply
  47. John - November 2, 2022 1:25 pm

    Sorry, but cornbread without sugar to me is drywall eating

    Reply
    • Susie - November 3, 2022 3:42 am

      I agree with you, John. Tastes like drywall. Lol

      Reply
  48. mona - November 2, 2022 1:25 pm

    So true; so true! Keep up the good work to protect our Southern cuisine!

    Reply
  49. Cassie Levy - November 2, 2022 1:26 pm

    Thank you and amen. I’ve been telling the younger family members this for years. If it has sugar in it, it’s cake not cornbread. Yes, I like Marie Callender’s version, but I eat it for dessert and not with my chili!!

    Reply
  50. Dee Thompson - November 2, 2022 1:27 pm

    The only cornbread we make at my house is Lewis Grizzard’s mama’s recipe. NO SUGAR. We are not heathens. We love the Lord. Check out the recipe here: https://deescribbler.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/11/cornbread.html

    Reply
  51. Alan Martin - November 2, 2022 1:32 pm

    Amazing article! Love having traditions of my beloved south raised for others to marvel at. You have such a gift. I save your column to read at my coffee shop each morning. What a great way to start my days. Often with a combo smile/tear!

    Reply
  52. Cindy Foster - November 2, 2022 1:43 pm

    No sweet cornbread for me!!
    Thanks for the laugh!😂😂

    Reply
  53. Jenny Young - November 2, 2022 2:05 pm

    Oh my…what do you think of Jiffy corn bread mix?……I ask with a fire shield in front of my face……

    Reply
  54. Allen White - November 2, 2022 2:13 pm

    I put the people who put sugar in cornbread in the same group of people who put sugar in grits. They should be deported to somewhere north of the Mason Dixon line.

    Reply
  55. Steve Garrett - November 2, 2022 2:21 pm

    As usual, your essay brought a smile to my face. ☺️ Today’s was just a bit wider… honestly, a 😁

    Reply
  56. Billy Moore - November 2, 2022 2:41 pm

    I loved this piece. Thank you for explaining chicken fried vs country fried. This is a significant cultural issue and deserved your serious exploration and discussion. Thank you!

    Reply
  57. ramblinritz - November 2, 2022 2:47 pm

    I loved this one, thanks for the chuckle this morning. Sugar belongs in cake not cornbread.

    Reply
  58. Belinda Bailey - November 2, 2022 2:54 pm

    Preach! It’s almost like putting tomatoes in gumbo. Though shall not. Amen.

    Reply
  59. Brad - November 2, 2022 3:01 pm

    Louthern Siving drives on both sides of the road. See the 1987 Cooking Light cookbook, page 174 for a cornbread recipe with no mention of added sugar. (The wife of a work colleague started the Cooking Light offshoot of Souther…oops, Louthern Siving and she’s a great cook.)

    Reply
  60. James Payne - November 2, 2022 3:03 pm

    Your best yet. Loved it. My mother did put a pinch of sugar in her green beans

    Reply
  61. Tara Robinett - November 2, 2022 3:07 pm

    I’ve heard the cornbread argument many times. My daddy doesn’t like sweet cornbread either. I have another aspect to argue about, white cornmeal or yellow? I anxiously await the results. We live in south Mississippi.

    Reply
  62. David Rainer - November 2, 2022 3:14 pm

    Amen! Amen! Amen! Sugar does not belong in a pone of cornbread!!! BTW, went by Jefferson Country Store and Tony fed me some mighty fine pulled pork!

    Reply
  63. Henry Puckett - November 2, 2022 3:17 pm

    Sugar in cornbread is an abomination. My Dad always said if I wanted sugar I’d eat cake. My wife prefers sugar in her cornbread. We make two different batches when we eat.

    Reply
  64. Ann Chumley - November 2, 2022 3:23 pm

    As a former New Englander I expected sugar in my cornbread. Eventually I married a Southerner and discovered true cornbread. No sugar please!

    Reply
  65. Anne Godwin - November 2, 2022 3:31 pm

    This morning, you reminded me of my Mamaw. She would make a pot of collards; fix cornbread and call me. As she got older, her cornbread consisted of frozen squares make by Howard Johnson. Just looked it up. They were called Toastees. Thanks for a sweet memory to start my day.

    Reply
  66. Ht - November 2, 2022 3:32 pm

    Cream cheese & pepper jelly indeed! Friend MaryJim in Georgia makes the best EVER! Been trying to get South to get the cases ordered. Bacon grease? yes, sugar? Never!

    Reply
  67. Jeff Robertson - November 2, 2022 3:35 pm

    I live in Eastern Kentucky and we eat a lot of soup beans, wild greens and vegetable soup. Cornbread of course is essential with these foods and my wife makes the best cornbread that I have ever eaten. Her secret ingredient, sugar. That’s they way her mother made it and her grandmother. Mark it up too personal taste.

    Reply
  68. Joyce Owens Byrd - November 2, 2022 3:42 pm

    When I lived in Massachusetts for a year, I had a meal with friends from Pennsylvania. Cornbread had sugar in it! I’m Texas born and south Louisiana raised. I thought there it was a mistake, but my friend said that’s the way they bake it. Jiffy mix has sugar in it. I buy the ‘no sugar’ mixes… 😇

    Reply
  69. Mike Rieley - November 2, 2022 3:58 pm

    Bravo

    Reply
  70. Edward Patrick Reeves, Jr. - November 2, 2022 4:05 pm

    Great job “circling back” just like a long living cotton trail that leaves the hound with only sweet corn bread to eat.

    Reply
    • Ed Reeves - November 2, 2022 4:07 pm

      cotton tail!

      Reply
  71. Susie Murphy - November 2, 2022 4:09 pm

    The Yankee in me slides out ……quite loudly…..when I make cornbread. I confess, I use sugar…a lot of sugar. And I am not ashamed. Unsugared cornbread is bland. I can hear the gasps floating on the wind. But sugared cornbread and milk…..divine.

    Reply
  72. Clara Martin - November 2, 2022 4:11 pm

    Lothern Siving is certainly not the magazine it used to be. I have been a subscriber since the early 1980’s, but am sad to say that I will not be renewing my subscription this year when it comes due. Not because of the sugar in the cornbread problem, but because of many other changes they have made to old beloved traditions!

    Reply
  73. Stan Womble - November 2, 2022 4:39 pm

    Thankyou, thank you I laughed over this report on cornbread. No, cornbread needs no sugar. I am on a salt free/no salt diet due to heart problems brought on from chemo in 2021. Have not had bread since June of this year. My better half found a 6″ iron skillet and started making hoecakes, which for us is plain white cornmeal, water, and just a minute pinch of salt, Better half makes a thin batter and when it is done it has the most beautiful lace edge, it sends me back to my grandmother who made this same hoecake. I thank God that she is willing to stand and cook enough for us and we had a warming spot on the stove because it takes almost a half hour to cook all the batter. Sean, your writing every morning sure makes the start of my day during all these trials the last couple of year again thank you.

    Reply
  74. Tim Bayles - November 2, 2022 4:41 pm

    You almost made me, a 72 year old native of Monroeville, AL, lose my breakfast of fried eggs-over- medium, chopped and mixed with a large serving of grits, when I read your column this morning. I do admit that I enjoy leftover cornbread with melted butter and Alaga syrup poured over it….but to put raw sugar in cornbread batter and bake it and, worst of all, serve it to humans….I’m stunned.

    Reply
  75. PPruitt - November 2, 2022 4:44 pm

    Well Sean, I have to say that we’re gonna disagree on this one. I am as Southern as you. Maybe not geographically, but definitely genetic and culturally. I have always LOVED sweet cornbread. Now, I don’t make it sweet to use in dressing, but slathered with butter and parked beside a bowl of chili, there is nothing better. Wanna be REALLY shocked? The absolute BEST cornbread I ever ate was made by an elderly lady back in the late 60s. Her name was Anna and she was a cook for a daycare in Greensboro, NC. She put PEANUT BUTTER in her cornbread!!! Wasn’t enough to make it taste like peanut butter, but the taste and texture were the best I’ve ever eaten. And I come from a long line of Southern Cuisine Master Chefs. Now if I could just get people to quit putting sugar in slaw!

    Reply
  76. Darcy Schmidt - November 2, 2022 5:38 pm

    Ooops I love sugar in my cornbread😂 and I’m from wonderful south Texas, born and raised!!😉

    Reply
  77. John Milton Flippen - November 2, 2022 5:44 pm

    I am laughing so hard you can probably hear me all the way from Blantyre Malawi.

    Reply
    • JerryC - November 2, 2022 8:29 pm

      75 years old, and raised in the deep south. Everything my mother, grandma’s, aunt’s, and most all our neighbors cooked had a “pinch” of sugar in it. Beans, peas, greens, squash, cabbage, even sweet corn. All had that pinch of sugar. The only exception was biscuits. You should try it, you might come to appreciate southern food even more.

      Reply
  78. LIN ARNOLD - November 2, 2022 5:47 pm

    Personally, I eat cornbread either way. My Mom & Dad were born & raised Montgomery, AL. Mom always put just a little bit of sugar in hers because Dad preferred it that way. And so here I sit today, pushing 70 way harder than I care to admit, and I put just a little bit of sugar in my cornbread. Why? Because my Yankee husband prefers it that way and it really doesn’t matter to me. I guess I just choose to pick my battles.

    Reply
  79. Vickie - November 2, 2022 6:09 pm

    My FAVORITE post ever!!! Raised in TN, I was shocked to learn people put sugar in their cornbread and didn’t use buttermilk to make it or cook it in a cast iron skillet – all necessary for perfect cornbread! I love the Mark Twain quote, “There’s nothing as good as Southern cornbread and nothing so bad as the Northern imitation.” Truer words were never spoken. Bless you!

    Reply
  80. Randy T. - November 2, 2022 6:36 pm

    Hang on there a minute pardner! If you ever get over my way, I’ll make you some cornbread that’s going to make you want to slap someone, and it’s got some sugar in it. And I mean, as in, so good it makes you want to slap someone.
    We will have some purple hull peas, greens(turnip, collard, or mustard, depending) maybe ham. Then, after some pie, I’ll give you my wifi password and you can get online and excuse yourself for that cornbread with sugar comment you made.

    Reply
  81. Sandy - November 2, 2022 6:55 pm

    Laughed out loud at this post. I especially enjoyed your “rhymes with” inserts. I am from the north and live in the south so you opened my eyes to some underlying angst I didn’t even know existed. Pop anyone?

    Reply
  82. tracybham - November 2, 2022 7:00 pm

    I can eat any corn bread if it isn’t too sweet or cakey. But I agree, Southern corn bread has no sugar. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and that is the way my mother and grandmother made it.

    Reply
  83. Charlie - November 2, 2022 7:08 pm

    I once received greens with sugar in them at a so called “meat and three” restaurant. When I complained to the waiter (that should have been a tip off) that there was sugar in my greens he replied, “your Mother probably puts sugar in her greens”. I replied to him, “If you ever again say anything that bad about my Momma I will kill you.” He picked up the bowl of fined greens and walked away.

    Reply
  84. Joe - November 2, 2022 7:45 pm

    Thank you for your efforts to enlighten the unlit about cornbread. Nowhere in cornbread does the word sugar appear. Now if you could explain that you have been enlightened on tomato sandwiches and that only Dukes mayonnaise can be used on real tomato sandwiches.
    Thanks again for your spectacular efforts at keeping our food real

    Reply
  85. Bobbe Thomas - November 2, 2022 7:46 pm

    I love Jiffy Mix. Without sugar, cornbread tastes like soap. Guess I’ll just have to fry in Hell. 🤣

    Reply
    • Susie - November 3, 2022 3:27 am

      Bobby, I agree. With no sugar in it, it’s really hard to swallow. Lol I would liken it to eating ….drywall??

      Reply
  86. Cindy L - November 2, 2022 9:00 pm

    Amen, Sean. Like you, I shout from the highest mountaintop in Florida (where I live) that SUGAR DOES NOT BELONG IN CORNBREAD! Cornbread is NOT cake! It is made with buttermilk so it should have TWANG–like our other favorite food, Duke’s Mayonnaise!

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  87. PMc - November 2, 2022 9:21 pm

    NO SUGAR in cornbread! But…honey on top is yummy!
    Peace and Love from Birmingham

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  88. MAM - November 2, 2022 9:39 pm

    Sorry, I”ll keep putting the minuscule amount of sugar in my yellow meal cornbread, and I’ll eat it with lots of butter and honey on top. But then I’m not a true Southerner, as I hail from Texas. Sugar in grits makes them worse that they already are. Good one, Sean, but I disagree.

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    • Susie - November 3, 2022 3:25 am

      I agree, Mam, sugar in warm cornbread with butter and honey on it is yummy! Yummy!! Also, butter in grits! Mmmmmm….

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  89. Sue - November 2, 2022 10:47 pm

    My mama never put sugar in her cornbread but I like the cornbread mix in a box and believe it has a little bit of sugar in it. I also love Broccoli cornbread. Just saying….

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  90. Susie - November 2, 2022 11:50 pm

    Just had this conversation with neighbors! 2:1 for sugar

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  91. Jenna P. Jones - November 3, 2022 12:43 am

    Cornbread with Sunday dinner (aka lunch) was a given; then for his supper, Daddy crumbled the leftovers in a glass of buttermilk. As a child, I didn’t understand the pleasure in his ritual. Years later, as I interned at the Lee County Court house, I was anointed with the job of making coffee for all my superiors. That meant a trip down the hall to the county jail kitchen, where the Trustees would be making cornbread. Lots of it. This is where I honed the fine art of making cornbread, and I swear sugar would have been a violation! Fast forward many years, I may sneak an ingredient or two into my batter but never sugar nor flour. (Jamie, please try adding goat cheese and cracked pepper.) As for my standing with our Maker, I read Sean’s column every morning, before I read my daily devotion. Lord, have mercy 😉

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  92. Jae - November 3, 2022 1:21 am

    My (born, raised, lived and died in Georgia) grandmother’s cornbread was incredible. She added a pinch, just a pinch of sugar because she claimed the modern white cornmeal wasn’t as sweet as the old cornmeal was. This actually could be true, because my dad claimed they never harvested corn early, and the older the ear, the more sugar develops. You could not taste the sugar in hers, but again, it was just a pinch. Wish I had a hunk right now. And she refused to use yellow meal….yellow corn was for hog feed.
    The cornbread recipes I have seen from the North and Midwest often call for 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar……they are more like a corn muffin.
    Surely had a good laugh over this great story! Thanks.

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  93. Susie - November 3, 2022 3:19 am

    I once ate cornbread without sugar in it and I thought I was gonna die, for sure. It was tasteless.

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  94. Julie Burrus - November 3, 2022 12:11 pm

    You’re my new hero!!!

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  95. Karen Hebert - November 3, 2022 1:31 pm

    Sean, thanks for setting people right on the cornbread issue. My maw maw made the best cornbread in all of Mississippi and New Orleans. Sugar never touched her cornbread ever.
    She made her share of cornbread especially in the 30s and 4Os. Sometimes it was all her 5 kids had to eat with a big glass of milk. Her cornbread iron skillet was almost paper thin when she passed in 1980. Her 4 kids had to draw lots to see who would get the prized pan. Everyone in the family has tried to duplicate her recipe some have come close but never perfection. I think her pinch of this and handful of that had something to do with it. Or maybe it was the flour on the floor and her face along with that pinch of salt and handful of love that made it so delicious. You wouldn’t happen to have that recipe would you. Thanks for letting me share such a great memory of tasteful love this morning!

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  96. Connie - November 3, 2022 1:32 pm

    Sugar in cornbread…blasphemous. ☺️

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  97. Cynthia - November 3, 2022 3:43 pm

    Thank Goodness someone finally said it. Sugar in cornbread is wrong. We needed you Sean. Keep up the Good work. You have spoken for all true southerners and we are grateful.

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  98. Rebecca Whittle - November 3, 2022 11:32 pm

    I have never laughed so hard in my life!! As a true Southerner I agree with everything you said, and the gentlemen who said “eating a Jiffy Cornmeal muffin was like eating a Twinky” I agree wholeheartedly!” Ha! I grew up with white cornmeal, flour, and grits! I come from a long line of women cornbread makers in my family! The all were the best cornbread makers (on top of the stove and oven) in the South!!!

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  99. Earl Bozeman - November 6, 2022 6:07 pm

    My first wife was from Massachusetts (I’m from Alabama) and shortly after we were married I cooked up a pot of collards and ham hocks, and asked her to make some cornbread to go with it. What she made looked like cornbread, but I didn’t realize until I took the first bite that being the Yankee that she was, she had made Vermont Johnnycake. Basically cornbread with a bunch of maple syrup in it. Would have been a great dessert, but was an awful accompaniment to collards and ham hocks. After that, I always made the cornbread!

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  100. Robert Chiles - November 6, 2022 11:57 pm

    In the South we fry everything, even dirt clods.

    Reply

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