Turns out, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day has been a tradition in the South for more than 120 years.
There are two stories about how the tradition got started. One dates back to the Civil War, and the other goes back to the 1700s.
According to the Civil War-era story, when General William Sherman burned his way across the South, he didn't destroy black-eyed pea crops because he viewed them as no better than food for horses. So the peas were one of the few crops left after Sherman's march ended around December 21. Southerns cooked them with bacon, ham, onions, or hot sauce, and wished for a happier new year.
The older story has the tradition beginning in 1730s witih the Jewish community in Georgia. (Though eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day as a good luck tradition was recorded as far back as 500 CE.)
Either way, the tradition is definitely a thing we do "down here." And, of course, there are variations on how to prepare black-eyed peas. We've got some great recipes to choose from. (Hey, owners of our 20th Anniversary Cookbook, check out pg. 23!)
You'll find fresh black-eyed peas, along with collard, turnip, and mustard greens, in our Produce department. Note: You cannot forget the cornbread! My grandmother made hers with sugar and vanilla yogurt. But you can try our cornbread mixes. Choose from Honey or Cheddar Jalapeño mix.
Also, while my heart belongs to cold sweet tea as a beverage of choice, I can definitely appreciate a good wine—especially when it's on sale, like ours are!
Happy New Year!