Corsicana Daily Sun. 1939.

Athens, Texas, is the black eyed pea capital of the world.

It’s also the town where the common hamburger was invented by a cafe owner named Fletcher Davis who took his invention to the 1904 World’s Fair and sold the sandwich to good effect.

Before you laugh, the New York Tribune reported from the Fair on the newfangled dish, and for a while Fletcher was the only person who staked his claim to being the hamburger’s inventor. That quickly changed.

But we’re only in it for the peas and with New Year’s Eve coming up it’s time to cook black eyes as it is said they will bless your home with good fortune.

You could raise a big family for cheap on black eyed peas and cornbread and the good folks of Athens have done just that for generations. In the 30s and 40s you could buy a pound of these legumes for .03c. Nowadays it’s easy to pay a dollar or even more depending on who your merchant may be.

In the summer of the year as you drive the backroads of east Texas you’ll find dozens of farmers set up on the right of way selling young, fresh, this-years-crop black eyes for a pittance. If you know of a place in Louisiana that does so please leave a comment.

A recipe for Poorjohn


1 lb salt pork, chopped
2 lbs black eyed peas
3 quarts water, municipal


Fry salt pork in pan
Add peas
Add water
Bring to boil
Cook til tender

notes: serve your Poorjohn topped with chopped, raw, white onion and fresh hot cornbread with plenty cow’s butter.

This is the first three ingredient recipe I’ve ever published. Good adjunct ingredients to fancify this formula would be onion, garlic, shallot, green onion and/or tomato. But if you choose to go the simple route this formula works just fine. Salt and pepper at the end when the peas are on the table.

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