by Ray Linville
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Many celebrate with traditional gifts such as sweet chocolates or red roses. Not me. I take advantage of the foodways traditions of North Carolina to make the day special.
First, start with a breakfast treat that says love better than chocolate: BoBerry Biscuits from Bojangle’s, which got its start in Charlotte in 1977. Instead of a standard biscuit, celebrate with a special made-from-scratch sweet biscuit baked with blueberry flavor and topped with icing. This Valentine’s special is a Tar Heel version of the English blueberry scone and gets taste buds thinking about the next foodways tradition to celebrate February 14.
Skip lunch – no BBQ, fish, or chicken yet. Eat dessert first, maybe even have two. My favorite sweets on February 14 are Valentine doughnuts from Krispy Kreme or Valentine cookies from Dewey’s Bakery (or both). Each company started in Winston-Salem and is still based there.
Beginning in 1937 in historic Old Salem,Krispy Kreme has been offering something special every February for many years. How can you pick only one? Try three — Sprinkled Heart, Valentine Sprinkles and Chocolate Iced Heart – endearing doughnuts. In fact, if you buy a dozen, you get twelve free Valentine cards; each one is redeemable for a free doughnut that extends Valentine’s Day even after February.
Since 1930, Dewey’s Bakery has tantalized the “sweet tooths” of the N.C. Triad, particularly in February. One of many companies using social media to attract attention to its products, Dewey’s now uses Pinterest to showcase Valentine specials: cakes, cake squares, cake pops, ice cream sandwiches — each with special colors and shapes for February 14.
Can you envision a “chocolate-dipped sugar heart-shaped” or a “chocolate-enrobed raspberry” Moravian cookie? What would the early Moravian settlers of Wachovia, (the original name for Winston-Salem and surrounding area) think? Too bad Valentine’s Day is on Thursday this year because every Monday at Dewey’s is free cake square day! Imagine getting cake on Valentine’s Day free.
Thirsty? Think only of Cheerwine, made in our state since 1917 by the oldest soft drink company continuously run by the same family. This N.C. beverage with a deep red color evokes love with every bubble. In fact, its burgundy red color inspired the company’s first slogan: “For health and pleasure.” Whisper that message on Valentine’s Day and watch the magic happen!
With such an excellent start on February 14, what can top the wish list? Imagine a romantic dinner at Waffle House. I can’t wait for the sun to set! “Valentine’s at Waffle House is all about true love with a side of bacon,” says Pat Warner, Waffle House vice president of culture. “Waffles by Candlelight,” a romantic dinner complete with food served on tablecloths and romantic music, is the ultimate evening celebration.
Clearly you distinguish yourself from others when you take your sweetie to Waffle House. This Southern eastery (which has more than 150 N.C. locations although it started in Georgia) even tweets a countdown to its more than 25,000 followers to that true romantics don’t forget to celebrate. More than 145 locations in the South, including 16 in North Carolina will offer white tablecloth service by candlelight on Valentine’s night; check to see if one by you is on the list. From Waynesville in the mountains to Wilmington on the coast, Waffle Houses are where you want to dine before you cuddle up with someone special.
Make February 14 romantic every year. Do more than buy a card, candy, or flowers – anyone can do that. Only North Carolinians have charming Valentine gifts available in our state. Don’t limit yourself to only one.
2015 UPDATE! We contacted Waffle House headquarters to see if the white tablecloths and candles were on the menu this year. Here’s their reply:
“Waffle House will be doing the Valentine’s dinner again this year. We will publish our full list of participating locations to members of our Regulars Club on 1/28 and then to everyone else on 2/2. As of now, we have 6 locations in NC signed up. Please feel free to check back as more locations sign up to participate but the full list will be on our website on 2/2.” -Kelly Thrasher-Bruner, Media Relations/ Communications, Waffle House, Inc.
Check this link to see if your Waffle House is participating and/or where you find the closest one.
Ray Linville writes and lectures on regional culture, including foodways and folklife. He has taught in the N.C. Community College System as a professor of English and humanities and served on the board of the N.C. Folklore Society. Read more about Ray’s ramblings at his blog: Sights, Sounds and Tastes of the American South.