Can You Ace This Quiz On Southern Culture?

Torrance Grey

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About This Quiz

What exactly is the American South? Everything south of latitude 39 (which would include Arizona and Southern California)? Is the South a matter of geography, culture or politics? The truth is, the South isn't just one place. The culture and cuisine of the Ozarks isn't the same as that of the Appalachians. Politics in Texas isn't the same as politics in Maryland. (Wait --are we even including Maryland?) And political differences between Virginia and West Virginia were the reason that the latter state broke away from Virginia, many years ago. 

Still, there are a number of things that most Southerners agree on. For example, that Yankees just don't get how "y'all" is properly used. And that no New Yorker should try to get away with "Bless your heart." They know what kind of frosting goes on a red velvet cake and what sweetener should be used in a pecan pie. (Hint: Jamie Oliver would not approve). They know that while all of the South was shaped by the Civil War, especially the bitter loss of it, the South is a vital, diverse place today, with a hip-hop scene in cities like Atlanta as vital as bluegrass is elsewhere.

Whether you're a Southerner bred and born, or you just don't want to put your foot in your mouth during an upcoming trip, we've got a quiz for you! Test your knowledge of all things Southern now!


What is commonly said to be the border between America's North and South?

The Mason-Dixon line was created during a state border dispute in pre-Revolutionary times. It runs chiefly between Pennsylvania and Maryland, at about 39 degrees latitude. Nowadays, it's more a concept than a significant border.

In which state would you find the Cajuns?

"Cajun" is the vernacular term for "Acadian," meaning the French-speaking people who migrated south from Acadia in Canada. They settled in Louisiana, where they became known for their distinctive cooking and music.

How old is too old to call your father "Daddy"?

Years ago, when an online article on "Things a woman should never do after age 30" included using the term "Daddy," a number of Southern women objected. It's a bit more common for women to use the endearment than men, but men do it too.

Finish the phrase: "Lord willing and the _____ don't rise."

This is a way of saying, "If everything goes well." The creek rising suggests a flood -- which is definitely not an example of things going well.

Which state is known for its peaches?

There's nothing better than a "Jawja" peach. In fact, Georgia is known as the Peach State, and the symbol decorates some of the state's license plates.

What part of speech is "y'all"?

"Y'all" is short for "you all." It's similar to the informal second-person plural that some languages have, like "vosotros" in Spanish.

Whom would it be incorrect to address as "y'all"?

There's one thing that annoys Southerners to no end: Yankees and Westerners saying "y'all" to a single person. Y'all is a contraction for "you all"; therefore, it's plural.

Which of these is a common ingredient in Southern coffee?

Chicory root is a coffee substitute that gained favor during the Civil War, when Union navy blockades kept real coffee from getting through. After the war, it stuck around as an additive to coffee. The Cafe du Monde in New Orleans is a famous seller of chicory coffee.

The Monster Energy Series is another name for the _______.

Yes, we know that many people outside the South also enjoy NASCAR. But there's a reason the old joke goes, "You might be Southern if you think the last line of the National Anthem is 'Gentlemen, start your engines.'"

"I ______ so" is a way of saying "I agree."

Though "I reckon" is now a phrase associated with dimwit deputies in the movies, the word has a noble history in the English language. Found in Shakespeare, it can mean to calculate, measure, believe, or to settle accounts. That last meaning survives in the expression, "Day of reckoning."

Is "Bless your heart" a kind thing to say?

While it sounds nice, "Bless your heart" can mean "You're a bit dim, aren't you?" An example: "Grandma, I got a great job! I'm a 'monback' at the grocery store -- I stand on the loading dock and yell 'monback' to the delivery drivers!" "Oh, bless your heart, sugar!"

Which of these commonly sweetens a pecan pie?

That's right, the key ingredient is the currently-much-maligned corn syrup. Be prepared for people from New York and LA to pass on it, if they know this.

Finish the expression: "Nervous as a ________ in a room full of rocking chairs."

This makes sense. If you were a long-tailed cat, wouldn't you be nervous in that situation?

Which state's residents are the "Tar Heels"?

The nickname "Tar Heel" probably came from the state's production of pine tar (residents tramping through the vast pine forests would be likely to get it on their feet). But North Carolinians adopted it to mean that their troops, in the Civil War, stood their ground as though they had tar on their heels.

If you're moving slowly, you might be compared to ______.

While we sympathize with those of you who thought "Sunday church," the common comparison is to molasses. Molasses is to Southern cooking what maple syrup is to New England's, but it's a lot slower to come out of the jar.

If you're getting ready to do something, you're _______ to do it.

This is a classic bit of Southern slang. At some Southern newspapers, a story in which officials only talked about plans of action without making progress is derisively called a "fixin-to" story.

Are boiled peanuts a thing?

Boiled peanuts are best when they're made from young, not-quite-mature peanuts. A Southerner will tell you the correct pronunciation is "burled peanuts."

Which liquor goes in a mint julep?

The state of Kentucky is known for its bourbon distilleries, so it's natural that Kentuckians' favorite drink, the julep, would be made with it. If you substitute rum, you've more or less got a mojito.

Which accessory is essential for a woman attending the Kentucky Derby?

OK, Churchill Downs will let a woman in without a hat. But it's traditional, even something of a competition, to have an elegant hat on Derby day.

What city and state is "Dollywood" in?

Dollywood is named for and owned by country star Dolly Parton. She grew up near Pigeon Forge, and wanted to create something that would bring jobs and money to the area.

Which states share the Great Smoky Mountains?

The Great Smoky Mountains run along the border of these two states. They got their name from a kind of "smog" that hangs over them, but it's not from human activity; rather, it's from the breakdown of vegetative compounds in the dense forests.

Which of these is NOT a traditionally Southern dessert?

Blueberry slump, like other things blueberry, is a traditional New England dessert. The blueberry grows best in northern climes -- Minnesota produces them, too.

"That dog won't _____" is way of saying an idea is a nonstarter.

In times past, in rural areas, dogs weren't usually just pets. They had to work, often as hunting dogs. A dog that wouldn't hunt was of no use to anybody, hence the saying.

Charleston is the capital of ________.

We're sorry to trick you by throwing "South Carolina" in there. That state does have a famous Charleston, but it's not the capital (Columbia is).

What kind of frosting usually goes on red velvet cake?

Cream cheese frosting makes a great complement to the sweetness of red velvet cake. Key lime? While we thought nothing would put us off red velvet cake, that just might do the trick.

If you're a "caution," what are you?

"Boy, you are a caution," is a way of saying that you're colorful, funny, maybe a little bit dangerous. It's akin to "a handful" in broader American slang.

In which state would you find Biloxi and Pass Christian?

These are both towns on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Tourism is an important part of the economy in both places, with Pass Christian being home to, somewhat uncharacteristically, well-known Japanese gardens.

In which state would you find Talladega Superspeedway?

Talladega Superspeedway is one of NASCAR's best-known tracks. It is located in Lincoln, Alabama.

What did the term "the Solid South" refer to?

For many years after the Civil War, most of the South voted Democrat. This might be confusing to you, if you associate the South with conservatism and the Republican Party. But after Lincoln and his Republican Party outlawed slavery and won the Civil War, Southern whites supported the Democrats, and this lasted for decades. Only in the late 20th century did things start to change.

Which of these 20th-century US presidents was Southern?

Carter was a former peanut farmer from Georgia. A Georgia newspaper responded to his candidacy with the headline "Jimmy Carter is running for what?" but Carter surprised the world by ascending to the Oval Office.

What precipitated West Virginia becoming its own state?

Western Virginia did not want to secede from the Union, and became independent during the Civil War. Since then, this mountainous state of small farmers has struggled economically compared to its wealthier eastern neighbor.

Which city is known for red rice?

Red rice is rice colored by finely crushed tomatoes and flavored with small bits of sausage or bacon, as well as onion and celery. It's coastal cuisine, and the two cities mentioned above do it particularly well.

Which state's flag is a simple red diagonal cross?

The cross is known as a St. Andrew's cross. It might remind some of the Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag, but is simpler in design.

Which state's flag has a crescent moon and a palm tree?

There are historic reasons for both the moon and the tree -- which, technically, is a palmetto, common on the coast of South Carolina. Even so, the crescent-moon-and-palm design might surprise the uninitiated -- it looks like it should be the flag of an Arab nation.

In which mountain range would you find the Cumberland Gap?

The Cumberland Gap is a passageway through the Appalachians at the Kentucky/Virginia/Tennesse conjunction. Nowadays, with modern highways and air travel, it's not so important, but it was vital to travel in the pioneer days.

Which of these states is not commonly considered part of the South?

If you defined "the South" strictly geographically, it'd run all the way through southern California. Whether a Southern state is defined by its latitude, its accent, or whether a state seceded during the Civil War -- this is all up for debate. But if you're going by the Census Bureau's definition, then yes, all three above states are Southern.

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