Today is National Junk Food Day; celebrate with a Vicksburg favorite

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Today is National Junk Food Day, and the perfect excuse to indulge in a sweet treat.

According to a recent Bid-on-Equipment survey, 35 percent of Americans eat junk food every day, but today is the day for no guilt to be involved. In Mississippi, the results showed sweet potato pie as the most popular treat.

Though the first traces of sweet potatoes can be traced back to Peru, the sweet potato pie came to cultivation in the southern American states. In the 1700s and 1800s, enslaved persons of African descent spent a lot of time harvesting sweet potatoes and creating dishes out of them as it was a popular food item in the South. As a result, sweet potato pies were born out of their kitchens and quickly became an African-American and Southern staple because of the ease of year-round storage and only requiring one potato per pie. As southerners, sweet potato pie still often ends up on the dinner table.

To help you celebrate this day of sweets, one of Vicksburg’s very own recipes for Sweet Potato Pie is below. Cissy Wagner Coleman, wife of Bob Coleman, created her own Sweet Potato Pecan Pie and it is included in the Vintage Vicksburg cookbook.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients you will need: 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of chopped pecans, 1 small sweet potato (baked or boiled and peeled), 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 cup of light corn syrup, 3 large eggs (beaten), a

dash of salt and 1 pie shell (8 or 9-inch).

Instructions: Brown butter and pecans in a saucepan until the butter is golden brown, not burned. Add mashed, cooked sweet potato. In a separate bowl, add sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, corn syrup, eggs and salt, and stir. Combine with browned butter mixture and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes; lower heat to 325 degrees for 40-60 minutes. 

Tip: If you have stored a fruit pie in the refrigerator, the crust will taste better if you remove the pie 20 minutes before serving and warm it for a few minutes at 325 degrees.

This recipe is sure to be a true Mississippi treat to celebrate National Junk Food Day. However, if you veer from the norm of Mississippian taste buds and sweet potato pie isn’t your cup of tea, many of Vicksburg’s local restaurants serve a variety of pie flavors. Check out Walnut Hills and Rusty’s Riverfront for pies and Main Street Cafe for a wide array of sweet treats to celebrate today if you don’t find yourself in the kitchen whipping up Mrs. Coleman’s pie.