Back before newsroom budgets so discouraged serendipity, I happened onto Stan Woodward and his quirky documentary “It’s Grits” (both will appear Wednesday evening at Wilson Library).
This was in 1979, after “It’s Grits” had unspooled at the Museum of Modern Art (good eye, MOMA!), but before it went national on PBS.
Though reared in Spartanburg and living in Columbia, Woodward had only recently come to see the glory that is grits. “It was invisible, like crickets,” he said. “You don’t hear them until somebody mentions them, and then you hear them all the time…. I accidentally hit a taproot of American culture.”
And of course I can’t resist firing up the old Ngram Viewer to address (though surely not to settle) this most eternal of questions.
4 thoughts on “But still no green-light for ‘It’s Hash Browns’?”
Lew, your mentioning “Grits” this morning brought to mind two funny stories.
When I was directing for WFMY-TV in Greensboro, we did an interview program called “Newsmaker” and in early 1973 we interviewed North Carolina’s then newly elected Senator Jesse Helms. Jesse related the following story. Upon his arrival in Washington, he was greeted by a veteran Senator from “out West.” ( Helms didn’t give a name). “Welcome to Washington, Senator Helms. We haven’t seen many Republican Senators from North Carolina,” the veteran said. “Have you lived in North Carolina all your life?” “Nope, not yet,” replied Jesse. The Senator from out west continued, “Well, I’ll bet you guys grow a lot of grits down there in North Carolina. Are those grits hard to grow?” Helms replied,, “they’re not hard to grow, but they’re hell to shell.”
The other grits story also comes from my days at WFMY. A couple of years after Jesse’s visit, I was directing the late news one Friday night. When we got off duty about midnight, several of us decided to go out to this all-night diner and get breakfast. When we arrived, one of my crew members checked out the menu and didn’t see grits listed. He then asked the waitress, “do you guys serve grits?” The waitress replied, “Honey, we’ll serve anybody.”
Lew: Inspired by your “Grits is, Grits are” Ngram analysis, I tried the same thing with “United States are, United States is” with interesting results. . .
Thanks, Kevin, interesting indeed. (Can’t get that link to behave; interested readers can go to:
and type in “United States are, United States is”)
And on exactly that subject, here’s Ben Zimmer taking on Shelby Foote:
I should’ve added to the Ngram instructions: Choose the corpus “American English.”