“Come ‘er and gimme some sugar”
The informant is my Mamaw, that’s how we say grandma where I’m from. She is sixty-eight years old; she was born in Pennsylvania, then moved to Kentucky, and has now lived in Tennessee for about forty years. She has an incredibly thick southern accent that sounds like most other people over fifty in my town and would most definitely self-identify as a country bumpkin. I called and asked her if she knew any phrases that were specifically southern, maybe that her northern siblings don’t say. As she was giving a few examples in her slow voice, I was reminded of a metaphor that I have only heard her, and my mother say.
Interviewer- What about the phrase you say when want me to give you affection before I leave your house or just got there?
Informant- (contemplates) Oh, (laughs) “come ‘er and gimme some sugar.” (She says the phrase in a tone that is somehow a mix of sternness and love)
Interviewer- So why do you say that, because obviously you don’t want actual sugar?
Informant- Hmm, idk I’ve ‘nt put much thinking to it I guess (laughs)
Interviewer- Do you remember the first time you heard it or who said it?
Informant- Lord no, I’ve just always said it to my kids and grandkids, so someone must’ve said it to me.
This metaphor encapsulates many characteristics of the region I grew up in and the people there. The phrase “gimme some sugar” is pretty simplistic, it means give me a hug or kiss, but the metaphor actually represents much more. First, this saying is only used with family members or close friends and is said to someone much younger than an adult. The tone that is used can almost be described as authoritative, but in a loving and high-pitched voice, so the command cannot be ignored. These characteristics of the metaphor speak to the significance of respecting and obeying one’s elders in Southern culture. Using the word “sugar” adds that warm and affectionate charm that Southerners are known for; they are quite literally “sugar coating it.” Sugar is also a vital ingredient in many dishes, and I have noticed many other examples of ingredients and food being used as representatives in Southern folk speech. This is likely due to the importance of preparing food and eating together which is heavily emphasized in Southern culture.