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The Country Store: Campaigning in New Hampshire vs. South Carolina


A 1940s Louisiana Country Store, recipes below (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)  click to enlarge image

The New Hampshire primary is over and those still in the race have turned their attention back to South Carolina.  I can't help but notice the contrast between retail politics in New Hampshire and South Carolina. In New Hampshire retail politics has historically meant meet and greets at Rotary clubs, country clubs, coffee houses, private homes,  taverns, clam bakes, lobster bakes, barbecues, bakeries, sandwich shops and something unique—the country store.  A look at candidate visits in South Carolina and one is hard-pressed to find a country store on any of their itineraries. Country store have been important institutions in rural South Carolina, yet they are not part of retail politics in 2011 and 2012, but they were in rural New Hampshire.  Historically, general stores, town stores, or country stores served as the center of rural communities. They functioned as spaces and places where farmers  families could purchase items that they did not or could not raise on their farms such molasses, sugar, salt, baking powder/baking soda, and snacks such as pickled pigs feet, chewing gum, soft drinks, ice cream, and cheese and crackers among others. It was not uncommon for a country store owner to save up enough money to convert the store into part grocery store and part eatery that included a short inexpensive menu steeped in local staples, produce and seafood and game that few could prepare as well as the cook at the country store. These stores/eateries also served as spaces where one shared and gathered information on events near and far. As a result they naturally evolved into important spaces for candidates running for office. In short, candidates and or party activist  well-versed  in the per functionary traditions of retail politics (shaking hands, breaking bread, and a well-rehearsed stump speech tailored to the needs of locals) have historically had to make the rounds at country stores if they wanted the support of rural New Hampshire voters.  Below I have links to related stories with recipes. More tomorrow on retail politics and food in the South Carolina primary.

Country store history and recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=store

Eating and Stumping: The South Carolina Primary Part 1

Stumping And Eating: The New Hampshire Primary Part 2