Tag Archives: Alabama

Waffle House Index

Background: My informant, BT, lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for 8 years. Interview conducted over FaceTime.

Me: “Tell me about any Alabama folklore you know. Unofficial things, stuff you wouldn’t find in a textbook.”

BT: “Well, there’s the Waffle House Index. I first heard about it from a friend while I was at Bama [the University of Alabama]. So Waffle Houses are open 24/7, they never close–“

Me: “Oh wait, can you explain what Waffle House is for people who may be unfamiliar with it?”

BT: “Yes. Waffle House is a restaurant chain in the South that’s like I-HOP but better, in my personal opinion. It’s like your typical diner, fast food chain.”

Me: “Perfect, continue.”

BT: “Right. So Waffle Houses never close, ever, except when a storm is really bad. So meteorologists started realizing that there was a correlation between the severity of a storm and Waffle House closures in the area, and realized they could track storms by Waffle House. If a Waffle House is closed in an area with a storm, then it’s all over. So if a storm is coming and people are thinking about sheltering in place, someone will usually ask, ‘well, is Waffle House closed?’ If it’s not, then the storm’s not severe enough, and you can continue on with your daily life.”

Analysis: I find the cultural significance of Waffle House to be interesting in this folk belief. Rather than trusting an institution like the National Weather Service, there’s a greater priority and belief in the knowledge of a local chain like Waffle House. Although Waffle House is a regional chain restaurant, the individual management and function of individual restaurants likely contributes to their reputation as feeling more “local” compared to a nationalized weather service. As a gathering place that is consistent and dependable in hours, the ironic trust in Waffle House over any other means to informally gauge weather is humorous of course, but also says a lot about regionalized trust and identity.

The University of Alabama – Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer Sports Chant


Informant AA was a current undergraduate student at The University of Alabama at the time of this collection. Both of AA’s parents are passionate Alabama fans which meant that AA was practically born into the already prevalent game-day culture. Alabama game-day culture finds its peak during football season as The University of Alabama tends to beat just about any team they play. Tailgating, parades, and ritualized viewing are all aspects of this widespread game-day culture that can be especially observed in Tuscaloosa, AL where the university is located.

Upon attending The University of Alabama themself, AA was granted access to the student section of the Bryant-Denny Stadium where the university’s home football games are held. Admission into this section is limited and students have to reserve their place for a select few games before the season even begins.

When speaking with AA, they told me a chant the student section and other Alabama fans yell out just after winning a football game.


The chant is known as Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and it goes as follows: “Hey __________! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer give em hell, Alabama!” This chant is repeated three times and is accompanied by the university’s “Million Dollar” marching band.

The ________ in the chant changes from game to game so that Alabama fans can direct the chant directly at the team they just beat. For example, if Alabama were to beat Auburn University, the chant would say, “Hey Tigers! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer give em hell, Alabama!” If Alabama were to beat Georgia, the chant would be changed to “Hey Bulldogs! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer give em hell, Alabama!” The target of the chant is the losing team’s mascot making the chant more appropriate and personal for each circumstance it is yelled.


After hearing about AA’s description and experience with this chant, I am lead to believe that this example of game-day folk speech serves to showcase victory, celebration, and unity. According to AA, the chant can be heard all across campus and many tailgaters outside of the stadium will even participate. While this chant has become traditional when the team is victorious, it functions to connect/unite Alabama fans. By participating in this chant at its appropriate time, each fan’s scream is contributing to a singular voice that is more powerful than could be achieved individually. Similar to the sport itself, teamwork and communication are the driving forces behind large-scale victories. By chanting, the students and fans become a kind of team themselves. Campus communities and cultures thrive when comradery can be attained. In becoming a traditional folk saying, the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer victory chant successfully celebrates victory while simultaneously strengthening the moral and bonds between Albama fans.

The Northport Panther


While speaking with Informant RM on the phone, they recounted a local legend that spread across the town of Northport, Alabama. At the time when this legend grew in popularity, Northport was a small town and just about everyone was a farmer.


What RM remembers of the legend is as follows:

“Back in Northport, I can remember a panther used to come through there. They make circles when they travel during the years that range hundred of miles – they come by different places different years. It was always in the cold part of the season, I guess it would be in October or something, and that thing would always come by Northport. It was a black panther they used to call it – a mountain lion-looking thing. He used to come and every time he’d come around there’d be a bunch of chickens killed out in the country, dogs dead … trying to catch the panther. I can remember when I was living in Northport and then all of the sudden it stopped. I don’t know I guess he got killed or something happened to him but he used to come around like clockwork and that was fact because I have seen a part of him – I thought I saw it. Yeah, it was the weirdest blood-curdling yell *imitates panther sound* – you understand? Like I said, he came around for years, I guess he was making a trip coming by, he was on the move all the time and it wasn’t that populated back in the sixties. Like I said, he killed dogs in our area and I would hear howling at night and I would go back in the house because that sound will scare the crap out of you.”

After RM retold all that they could remember about the panther. I asked them if anyone ever saw the panther or killed anything that could’ve been the panther. While RM thought they remembered someone claiming to see it running off into the woods at night, they said that they heard it more than they saw it. They tried to explain and recall its distinct sound which they explained to be like a scream.


While this legend is no longer shared or believed by those who populate Newport, it has yet to be disproven or confirmed. This almost historic legend gives insights into the fears and concerns of those who once believe in it. As a farmer completely dependent on livestock and/or crops, it is likely that unexplained events such as these be rationalized by something in the natural surrounding environment. Since the land on which they lived was probably all Newport farmers knew, it would make sense that this panther creature was just a potentially exaggerated version of reality. Since nature probably presented most of the challenges Newport farmers faced during the time this legend thrived, I am inclined to think that this legend helps demonstrate the rationale used to explain mysterious phenomena.

University of Alabama – Dixieland Delight Chant

Main Piece:

Dixieland Delight is a song by the rock band Alabama, but is more formally known as a chanting song during Alabama football games. It originally wasn’t intended as a song for the university’s football team, but they adopted it as their own. They add their own lyrics in between the verses of the chorus. It’s a tradition to sing it at the start of the 4th quarter of home games. The words between the chorus vary and expletives about their state school rivals in the region are added to it. Because of this her freshman year they weren’t allowed to play this song during football games, but this was lifted her sophomore year.

One constant verse of the song is as follows (additions are in italics):

“A little turle dovin’ on a Mason-Dixon night. F*** AUBURN.

Fits my life. LSU. oh so right. AND TENNESSEE TOO.

My Dixieland Delight.”


EG is a sophomore at the University of Alabama, and has attended football games for the past two seasons. Both of her parents attended the school and are also avid fans of the team. She was raised an Alabama fan her whole life and has never been otherwise. This was taken from a conversation at our house.


This trend of chants is appealing to me as it takes a song and adds lyrics to it, similar to a mashup or a cover. This seems to be used as a method of getting the crowd at their games riled up so that they can have a lot of spirit. This being done at the beginning of the fourth quarter would mean that they get much more energy during for the final push of the game. This greatly reminds me of when the USC Band plays Tusk during football games. While we don’t use expletives during the songs, we do add our own lyrics. A similar style of song that is also in the SEC, Alabama’s football conference, is LSU’s chant to the song “Neck”. Students also chant it during games to the point where it got banned. (https://youtu.be/Ji-mFaIAcX4, Neck, LSU Band and Student Body).

University of Alabama Game Day

Main Piece:

Game Day at the University of Alabama are like nothing else. It is a school defined by football, and people take it seriously. You wear a mix between your Sunday Best and Going Out outfit, but more modest than going out. Typically it is a mix of Crimson and White clothing. First thing people do is head to the quad. You find your friend or your sorority sisters and begin tailgating. Sometime you go to your sorority house, and her EG, her house is right next to the stadium. You go to the stadium an hour before the game, go to the student section and stand. Sitting rarely happens during these games. After every touchdown the crowd sings the fight song. At the end of the game, bearing that the students are still there, they sing Rammer Jammer, a classic song of the school. Many students don’t stay for the whole game as Alabama typically gets a huge lead over their competitors, and they typically leave before the fourth quarter making them miss this tradition.


EG is a sophomore at the University of Alabama, and has attended football games for the past two seasons. Both of her parents attended the school and are also avid fans of the team. She was raised an Alabama fan her whole life and has never been otherwise. This was taken from a conversation at our house.


As EG is my twin sister, I subsequently was also raised an Alabama fan. We have been to make games over the years, but I am the only one to never have gone to a game at Bryant Denny Stadium, Alabama’s home stadium. The only thing I can compare it too is the USC Game Day experience. From picture’s I have seen from theirs. It is similar in ways and different in ways. When she came to Los Angeles for family weekend last fall, she noted that the atmosphere in the Coliseum was different than in Bryant Denny. As I have not been to an Alabama game, I cannot understand what she means. While we also have traditions at the fourth quarter and end of the game, they are much different than at Alabama.