Southern Recipe

Marsha: When I was growing up, one of the ladies that used to work for us would make these things called Sugar Tits, which is basically you put a piece of butter in a cheese cloth and you twist it around, and you dip the cheese cloth and butter into sugar. And they would give it to us as little kids to suck on. It’s like a little pacifier.

Although the context in which I interviewed Marsha was not ideal for collecting information because she was in a big rush, this piece of folklore is significantly included within the collection. When I initially asked Marsha to think about a piece of folklore to share with me, knowing that she would probably draw on her southern roots, she mentioned this without hesitation. Marsha’s description of Sugar Tits not only proves the diversity of folklore genres, but it also illustrates the culture of her childhood. Marsha grew up in a wealthy and large southern family. Although I already knew this background on Marsha, during her interview, her reference to “the ladies that used to work for us” suggests these details (i.e. her family had more than one woman helping within the household). Additionally, the simple ingredients used to make this treat, sugar and butter, are very prominent in southern cooking and its name is a candid and comedic connection to how the recipe appears – a soft, squishy sack of sugar.

Given the name, the comparison to a pacifier, the act of sucking on this treat, and the fact that it was given to Marsha and her siblings when they were little kids, resembles the act of breast-feeding. It is then significant that this folklore recipe was introduced to Marsha by “the ladies that worked” for them, rather than by her mother. Knowing Marsha’s upbringing, this story highlights the detachment she had from her parents at an early age. The Sugar Tit symbolizes her nannies’ effort to comfort the children, like a mother comforts a baby by nursing, as a replacement for their mother. Additionally, it is a folk recipe that represents the south through it’s ingredients and practice. Similar modes of comfort, through food especially, appear in many cultures, often pertaining to children. Furthermore, this piece of folklore was the immediate thought that came to Marsha. Observing this as her initial response demonstrates that eating the Sugar Tit was a strong memory for Marsha; it is a form of folklore that helps define her childhood.