Wendy Cartwright: Midwest Wonders … the popularity of cornbread


By Wendy Cartwright

Guest columnist

A dear friend, whom I’ve spoken of in previous articles, is an Indiana transplant to Michigan.

She often brings up topics that might be of interest to this column. Today, she brought up cornbread.

Cornbread is a popular food in this area. When I was younger, I didn’t like cornbread. I was not a fan of the texture. If bean soup was on the menu, I filled it with saltine crackers. I was a very picky eater.

I like cornbread these days. My Michigander friend specifically mentioned Jiffy brand cornbread mix. That’s my family’s favorite. I’ve tried others but always go back to it. This seems to be an institution in this area, so I did some research.

In the mashed.com article “Boxed cornbread mix, ranked worst to best” by Kristen Carli, Jiffy was in the No. 1 spot. Carli said, “Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix feels like an all-American staple to us.” I agree. I generally have a box or two in the cabinet at all times.

Paige Bennett, who wrote the article “I tried 4 cornbread mixes from the grocery store, and the best costs less than $1” for Business Insider, agreed also. She said, “Jiffy’s mix was delicious … I’ll mostly stick to (it).” I think she’ll always stick to it.

Perhaps the most compelling argument for this brand of cornbread is in the Southern Living article “We tested 9 boxed cornbread mixes, and this was the winner by far” by Abigail Wilt and Kimberly Holland. A review in this article says, “This tastes the most like cornbread to me.” I think that says it all. Jiffy is cornbread.

There is another topic related to cornbread that is often an issue at this particular time of year. Is (family member) bringing their famous corn pudding to (Thanksgiving/Christmas)? In my family, it’s my aunt’s mother. The dish is expected to be on the table.

I hadn’t tried corn pudding until three years ago. My good friend, Marie Garrity, had prepared a dish around this time of year and let me taste her version. It was delicious. I proceeded to load a plate to take home with me. My friend in Michigan is not a fan of corn pudding. She says, “I think it’s just wet cornbread with kernel corn.” Oh well. More for me.

I get rave reviews on my version of fried green tomatoes. There’s no mystery ingredient or long preparation. I bread them with Jiffy mix.

The last time I visited Michigan to see my friend, she gave me a wonderful gift. She presented me with a 40-ounce box of Jiffy mix along with a Jiffy cookbook. A Midwestern girl couldn’t ask for a better friend.

Wendy Cartwright hails from the North Vernon area and has lived there most of her life. She is 43 years old. She has a love of sharing her thoughts on growing up in the Midwest and other stories from her life. She spends her days reading and writing in the home she shares with her husband and chihuahua. Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display