On August 30, Food & Wine magazine tweeted a link to an article, originally published by Southern Living, headlined "The South's Most Beloved Appetizer Starts With a Sleeve of Saltines." The subject of the story was "fire crackers" (sometimes called "Alabama fire crackers") — saltines coated with onion powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and dry ranch dressing mix, then briefly baked.
The results are crisp, slightly spicy little mouthfuls that fall firmly into the "bet you can't eat just one" category.
"Most beloved," though? The Twittersphere wasn't buying it.
More than 150 responses, not all of them polite, took issue with that characterization of the saltines.
Others dismissed fire crackers as a regional peculiarity.
Some tweets proposed that pimento cheese, cheese straws, boiled peanuts, or even oysters would have been better choices for the honor, while others outright claimed to have never even heard of the thing.
The author of the article, well-known recipe developer and food writer Sheri Castle, seemed bemused by all the to-do. "That was originally a blog post published around the 4th of July," she told The Daily Meal, "and that headline was added after-market. One should never claim that anything is 'most beloved' or 'most popular' — and I never used the word appetizer. It's just a snack. But of course people tend to view their most beloved cuisine from their own vantage point, and if they've never heard of this, it doesn't exist for them."
She added, "It's just a cracker. A surprisingly delicious little thing. If you've never had them, they're easy, they're quick, they're tasty. Give them a go."
We won't say "beloved" here, but these 24 Southern dishes are pretty much essential.