In the March 19 column, I remarked uncritically on the legislature's designation of the pecan as the official state nut. H. Mayo Smith now remarks on my remarks. Critically.
“I was surprised to read you apparently going along with such sloppy use of language. The pecan is not a nut. It is a drupe.”
A drupe? I can imagine a tree limb adroop with pecans, but this drupe of which Smith spoke was unfamiliar to me. And although assured that confirmation of Smith's statement would be easily obtained, I found none in my old reliable Random House Unabridged or my Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, both of which referred to the pecan as a nut. Should have stopped there. But, seeking to give Mayo Smith more rope, I went to the Internet — TMI, as they say these days — and there I found a longer and more comprehensive treatment of the pecan. It said:
“Pecans, like the fruit of all other members of the hickory genus, are not true nuts but technically a drupe (fruit with a single stone or pit).”
So we Southerners have actually been eating Karo Drupe Pie all these years? This is a shocking revelation. It's like when the Harvard researchers discovered that Robert E. Lee was a Union mole.
Well, if the pecan is really the state drupe, we still need a state nut. I commend the peanut to the legislature. Surely no one can challenge its nuttiness.
During the presidential-election campaign last year, the inventive and public-spirited ice cream manufacturer Ben and Jerry's created “Yes Pecan” ice cream in honor of Barack Obama. The company invited customers to submit names for a hypothetical George W. Bush ice cream. Some of the entries:
“Impeach Cobbler,” “Iraqi Road,” “Caramel Preemptive Stripe” and “Death by Chocolate … and Torture.”
Bettina Steele helpfully points out that a liquor-store advertisement in the Arkansas Times offered Guinness Drought for sale. Why would one pay to have no Guinness, she asks. Beats me. Wouldn't make for much of a happy hour.