Eat and Get Gas

by

When did we give ourselves permission to buy sustanence at the same place that sells motor oil and flavored condoms?Pictured above is Bully’s Bar-B-Q, a trailer that sits on the lot of the Lakeland Exxon in Jackson. Every morning the trailer opens up and inside the store owner begins firing up the smokehouse/barbecue grill. By lunchtime, a plethora of ribs and chicken breasts (along with pints and pints of pork ‘n’ beans and potato salad) are wrapped and ready to sell from two charmingly delapidated warming cases inside the Exxon station.

I’ve been there three times…and the food gets better with each visit. Seriously, it’s about the best dry-rub barbecue I’ve ever had.

But as good as that chicken is, I can’t see how this became an acceptable way to dine…at least for a person not driving an 18-wheeler.

Why do gas station eateries draw us in? Is it the kitsch? The greasy goodness? The packs of cigarettes over the sales counter?

Whatever the reason, I can’t help myself. I’ll gladly walk over air hoses and oil spills…past public toilets on the outside of a building…through noxious gas fumes…and down the tampon/Vienna sausage/kitty litter aisle to buy the grub sold at gas stations.

My disgust threshold must be sensationally high…because I don’t even think twice about it…(and I usually buy only organic when I grocery shop…go figure).

Maybe my tolerance stems from pleasant childhood memories.

Every July my family would pack up the car and head out for a daylong trip from Biloxi to Taylorsville to visit my Grandpa Powers and Grandma Lete on their farm.

We’d spend the day visiting in their unairconditioned house, listening to stories about how the neighbors were goodfornothins. But mostly my brother, Beau, and I would lay on the linoleum floor in front of the osculating fan, waiting for the damn thing to blow our way and convinced it was showing favor to the other sibling.

Anyway, the highlight of these trips wasn’t the enormouse watermelons that we always ate on Grandpa’s back patio…nor was it the trips to the barn to help Grandpa slop the hogs…nor was it running with fear in our bellies from the enormous bull Grandpa had in the pasture past the corn fields.

No, the highlight of the trip came at the end of the day…on the way home. If we had behaved (which we always did) we were rewarded with a stop at…
the Stuckey’s
!

pecan.jpgFor those who have never been to a Stuckey’s…you must go. It’s a menagerie of the most useless crap ever created by man…packed as condensely in one store as the pecans are packed into the ever-popular Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll (pictured at right).

Beau and I would walk longingly up and down the rows of shelves lined with treasures like rubber tomahawks with real dyed feathers and snow globes featuring one-dimensional replicas of Mississippi’s State Capitol Building, which has maybe seen a total of five snowflakes in its 100-year history. We’d beg for the toys but usually settled for some divinity or fresh-pulled taffy. It was a kid’s paradise…I swear.

But back to the present…certainly I’m only one of a handful of people who waxes reminiscent at gas station eateries. So the question still remains…why do we do it?

Is it out of convenience? I doubt it. I mean it’s much easier to drive through a McDonald’s or other fast-food joint to get some grub than to get carry out from a gas station.

Is it that we don’t feel truly sparked to eat unless our menu consists of deep-fried potato logs, deep-fried egg rolls, deep-fried corn dogs, and deep-fried chicken fingers, taquitos, or nuggets?

I don’t know. And I don’t really care. I just didn’t have a topic for today and was feeling a little nostalgic…and hungry.

I’m heading to Memphis this weekend…I may have to stop at the Stuckey’s on the way. I could really use a fresh batch of divinity…oh, and a rubber tomahawk.

A girl can never have too many of those, you know.

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16 Responses to “Eat and Get Gas”

  1. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Tears are welling from nostalgia…sniff, sniff. You’re blog is always the best part of my mornings.

    When I’m in Dallas I don’t ever think of eating food from the gas station. But, when I go visit the ‘rents in East Texas, in the little town my Grandma and all my relatives lived in all their lives, the little town I visited every summer when I was a kid….I ALWAYS stop at the gas station there on the corner for tamales and homemade pralines (cuz that’s how we roll in TX).

    I really think it has something to do with remembering childhood. I’m afraid that our generation is prolly the last one to know what it’s like to slow down enough to do things like that. I don’t know how to express myself here, but I think you know what I mean.

  2. TALK! Says:

    Bama…you really made my morning.

    Last night I was pulling my hair trying to think of a topic.

    I had this on in the “maybe” pile and pulled it out…I’m so glad I did.

    I know what you mean about those country gas stations…so true…so yummy. πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and tamales and pralines…you’re my kind of woman!

    Ha!

  3. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Yay! I’m glad you did too. I feel like I’m reclaiming my childhood with every post of yours!

    I keep thinking that someday I wanna do an old-fashioned summer road trip vacation. The kind where you stop at every state line to see the visitors center (I’m well acquainted with the Vicksburg one btw.) and you eat sandwiches at rest stops. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Hopefully gas prices don’t keep me from my dream!

    (BTW-Is that 2.65 price on the sign in the pic current? I just paid 2.96 last night!)

  4. TALK! Says:

    Girl…if you are close enough to drive to Vicksburg…we’re practically neighbors!

    Oh…about the gas price…I took the picture about three weeks ago, so it’s probably now at 5.17 a gallon.

  5. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Parental units #2 lived in Vburg for years (still have relatives there and in Jackson), so I visited there many, many summers. Also, used to live in SC and GA so went through Vburg when driving for visits to TX. We always stopped at the visitor’s center there. Ahhh…the memories.

  6. Staci Says:

    You two are killing me today. and I have to ask, how did you keep from moving right on to “fair food” which is by far the best part of October. Same concept… deep fried bananas, deep fried pickles, hot buttered biscuits… and I have to ask, how much cleaner is the state fair than the Chevron? Not much… but that doesn’t keep us from running to the fairgrounds in October, does it?

    Comfort food is manna.

  7. TALK! Says:

    MMMmmmmm…fair food.

    Chicken on a stick.

    Funnel cake.

    Turkey legs.

    Cotton candy.

    MMMmmmm…fair food.

    October can’t come soon enough.

  8. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Staci, Talk:

    Y’all don’t even know.

    My friends and I start planning for next The State Fair right about the time the current one ends. I have a friend in Chicago that comes down for it every year. And I’m not kidding when I say that every day we spend there is mapped out by our food choices. Fried candy bars on the Midway, fried cheese curds next to Big Tex, sweet potatoe fries in The Pavillion…..and the mother of all fair foods: CORN DOGS next to the car show.

    I quit eating in July just to make sure I have enough room in my belly to fit it all.

    Okay, that’s prolly waaay to much info for peeps that don’t actually know me. I’m gonna hide now.

  9. TALK! Says:

    I stop eating in June.

    No talk of fair food and the planning thereof to eat it is too much information.

    It’s like Vets swapping stories of ‘Nam…it just brings us closer because of shared experiences.

    MMMmmmm….corndogs.

  10. bamaborntxbred Says:

    OMG! I almost choked on my Orbit. I never really thought of it that way but I feel much better about myself now! Haha! I’m always planning the next food foray. I was at lunch at Benihana’s thinking about dinner tonight at Potbelly’s. (BTW-I’m renting the BBC Office to watch w/my BFF.)

    I’ve really gotta get a hobby.

  11. TALK! Says:

    Let me know what you think of BBC version…be warned though…it’s pretty vulgar (at least to a prude like me).

    P.S. My hobby is eating fair food.

  12. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Thanks for the warning. I’m a prude in “real life”, but I’m de-sensitized (is that a word?) to vulgarity in tv, movies, music…mostly. I’ll definitely give you my impressions!

    P.S. I guess my hobby is eating in general. I should be a food critic…’cept I don’t have a very fine palate.

  13. suzi-q Says:

    okay, okay, now I must add the most delicious idea, plan your next vacation around state fairs, gas stations AND Crawfish festivals, shrimp, mullet, seafood fests, etc:) Talk about a fantastic series of events. Add to your favorites link sausages on poboys and shrimp e’touffe etc, etc,etc. Love to all who have wonderful appetites.

  14. Quossum Says:

    My family was cheap–uh, poor. We didn’t eat at those places; we had a bread sack full of prepared sandwiches that we ate as we rode along. Dad had rigged up this big cushion (huge piece of industrial foam) for the back of the Suburban that we rolled around on (seatbelts, schmeatbelts!) and little fans that ran on the cigarette lighter so that we didn’t have to run the AC. Occasionally we yelled, “She’s touching me!” to which Mom replied, “Do you want me to slap the snot outta y’all?”

    Good times, good times.

    Oh, and the sandwiches were usually potted meat slathered generously with mayonnaise. Are you ill yet?

    –Q

  15. Ash.http://taylorhicksistheboogie.com Says:

    STUCKEY’s!

    Another stuckey’s fan! Woo. I am more excited than a woman should ever be about finding someone else, someone so great, who also shares an undeniable and unexplainable love for both Stuckey’s stops and trailer food. Both are so damn good.

    I remember eating a lot of Stuckey’s brittle when I was a young’un. The cracking sound the brittle made when I bit into it. The look on my Papa’s face when he heard the sound. A charming and humorous look that was a result of the combination of two feelings. Fear and Delight. I remember him turning around while driving the old station wagon down the road and scolding me “Put that can-dee dawn right now. Yell break yer teeth!” and then he would shake his head, smile, and go back to driving contentedly until I took another big bite. *crack*.

    Yum. I can taste it now. It looks like a trip to Stuckey’s is in the near future.

    Thanks, Shelley.

  16. TALK! Says:

    You’re welcome, Ash.

    So glad I could drum up such fond memories for ya! πŸ˜‰

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