By Dawn Bright
I moved here from Delaware about six months ago, so am still getting used to the whole “Southern” thing. So far I’ve found everyone is very friendly here, and I love the accents! One thing I don’t get, though, is when I order iced tea I have to say unsweet tea or it comes sweetened. You don’t have to do that in Delaware. You just order tea and it comes unsweetened. Why is that?
– Tracy M. from Delaware
I was also confused about this, Tracy, when I moved here from California some years ago. As it turns out, Southerners have been drinking their tea cold and sweet for a long time. Some of the oldest recipes for sweet tea can be found in 19th century Southern cookbooks, including an 1878 one from Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, a granddaughter of Patrick Henry. According to several online articles, the rest of the country caught on in the early 1900s, particularly after iced tea was popularized at the 1904 World’s Fair in steamy St. Louis.
According to those same articles, sweet tea remains the national beverage below the Mason-Dixon Line. Some people call it the Sweet Tea Line—north of that boundary, tea comes unsweetened and you have to order it by specifying “sweet iced tea” if you want it that way. South of the line, you just say “tea.” Saying anything else is simply being redundant.
I’ve never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but I hear it’s quite an event. Do you recommend making the drive over, or does Destin offer something comparable?
– Fred Y. from WaterColor
I have to admit I haven’t been to any Mardi Gras celebration ever, anywhere. Not Destin, New Orleans, France (where Mardi Gras originated) or Rio de Janeiro (another well-known Mardi Gras destination). It isn’t that I don’t like Mardi Gras, it’s just that I’ve never had the opportunity or the time. I mean, celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans, for example, is a week-long affair—at least!
This year, some parades and balls occur in January, the “family-friendly” Mardi Gras (where women apparently do not expose their upper body for beads) is from February 22 to 24, and the rest of the month (all the way to March 5) is full of more Mardi Gras celebrations and elaborate parades. And because Mardi Gras history is so long and detailed, there’s no way to summarize it in this format.
But in answer to your question, Destin does have several celebrations planned at Destin Commons and HarborWalk Village, and Pensacola has even more. But if you have the time and you really want to experience Mardi Gras, you probably need to head over to the French Quarter in New Orleans and laissez les bon temps rouler!
My dad was a really interesting man who was always coming up with fun inventions. Recently, I found some scrawled plans in some of his papers for a “bucking armed chair.” He called it the “Chair Bucker.” His idea was you would sit in your chair to watch TV or work a Sudoku, turn the thing on, and then you’d fight the chair to keep it from bucking you out. He was trying to come up with a calorie burner where you wouldn’t have to get out of your chair. What do you think of this idea?
– Ben E. from Milton
Well, Ben, unless your dad came up with this before 2006, the Japanese beat him to the punch. They invented the Joba Workout Machine back then, a gadget that did nothing but simulate the movements of a horse in motion. You sat in the “saddle” and basically strained to stay in place, working your thighs and abdomen to do so. The most you could lose during this “workout” was around 50 calories in 15 minutes, but it was an easy 50 calories (if you didn’t get bucked), and like your dad intended, you didn’t even have to get up out of the saddle.
The gizmo apparently didn’t do well, however, as Amazon (who used to sell the “Horse Riding Exercise Machine Deluxe by Joba” for a piddly $999) no longer offers the device. I’m sorry your dad didn’t come up with it first, though, but keep rummaging through his papers! You never know what you’ll find when you’re talking about interesting, innovative and creative people—it sounds like your dad certainly was.
Dawn Bright is an eternal optimist. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about her. Email your questions to email@example.com.