People from Mississippi are Weird

By on 28 September, 2018 in DIY, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

I was a conference recently in Mississippi, and was the recipient of the standard-issue bag of Professional Conference Swag™. You know the stuff: tote bag, various pens and notepads, perhaps a keychain or water bottle if they’re really spending big (shout-outs to all of the generous donors who make conferences happen). Frequently (we tend to go to a lot of these things) these welcoming branded gift experiences will include a bit of local flavor, especially if conference attendees are coming in from out of town. This is sometimes especially savored if you’re coming in and will only get to see the inside of a hotel or conference center before flying back home.

Can you really even say that you’ve been to a place if you only change flights in their airport? Can you really say that you’ve experienced Biloxi, Mississippi, if you’ve only driven into the maw of the Beau Rivage Casino, had some meetings, and then gone home?

This was the setting under which I came into possession a box of Ala Carte Alice’s Snicker Cheese Ball fixins.

Business card to show scale.

Ingredients

To be clear: This is no disparagement upon Alice, or her “family-owned” business from Louisville, Mississippi. We like their state-based “maker pride,” and if they’ve found out a way to sell Snicker Cheese Ball fixins to the Ole Miss tailgate crowd or whatever, more power to them. If they can get a premium retail price for a cardboard box containing a tiny plastic bag of about 15 chocolate chips and some flour and another tiny plastic bag of “graham cracker crumbs,” that’s just good ol’ supply and demand.

But the more curious point is raised about what, exactly, monstrosity is formed by following the directions on the box and creating one of these “Snicker Cheese Balls.” Take a package of cream cheese and one full entire stick of butter, and combine them with each other and the ingredients in the tiny bag. You come out with a giant wad of cream cheese and butter and chocolate chips and are then supposed to roll the finished wad in the graham cracker dust and … that’s it. That’s what you’re trying to make.

Insert in mouth. Chew.

The product is described on Ala Carte Alice’s website here, and the item is just one of many in the Cheeseball and Spread and Mixes category offered by this particular vendor. But do people eat this? And how? And why?

Getting a little creative with the traditional cocktail party cheeseball is certainly an admirable pursuit in the world of Advanced Southern Culinary Arts. It certainly may offer a window into something people may idly eat while debating golf cubs during the church coffee hour. And if the same people will pay $25 for a plate of $3 worth of shrimp and a handful of grits, maybe the pre-packaged head start of a Snicker Cheese Ball could allow a few additional minutes of attending to family management duties. But the fact remains: Who is eating this? Why are we pretending like it’s food?

Do the people in Mississippi just eat butter by the stick the way we would eat a popsicle in the summer? Does the consumer of this Snicker Cheese Ball remark thoughtfully on the mix of the butter and the cream cheese? Do you put this on a cracker?

I couldn’t resist the siren call of a free gift, so I decided to make myself a Snicker Cheese Ball and try it out for myself.

Here’s what it looks like in process:

The end result, seen below, to paraphrase professional football coach Dennis Green, was what we thought it was.

It’s a giant ball sugary enough that you don’t want to spread it on a saltine, and buttery enough that you don’t want to do much of anything else with it for that matter. It evoked puzzled comparisons to everything from chunky peanut butter (the chocolate chips added “texture”) to toothpaste and wall spackle. It’s just butter and cream cheese, smeared across whatever you happen to have around. We tried water crackers and Triscuits. After a few good spirited efforts, the bulk of the ball went into the trash, much to the dismay of the dog.

There are no lessons here, other than, perhaps, you get what you pay for. A free item caused horizons to be broadened at the expense of our health and an otherwise serviceable stick of butter.

Postscript: Another item that came to our house from Mississippi was an issue of Mississippi Magazine. Contained within was a list of recipes for tailgating foods. All but one used some kind of flavor mix as a base ingredient. So this goes further than we had expected…

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