BOIL BABY BOIL: World’s largest peanut boil: a goober tradition
Published 4:00 am Friday, September 4, 2015
The wait line at the World’s Largest Peanut Boil in Luverne Thursday was long. The sun was hot and the air was not moving, but no one was complaining.
Folks from “just down the road” and, as far away as Cullman, were patiently waiting for the next batch of goobers to be bagged.
“We’ve already given out of the boiled peanuts twice and it’s one o’clock, said William Baker, president of the sponsoring Crenshaw County Shrine Club. “We’ve got orders to fill and a big crowd waiting but we can only boil so many and so fast.”
This year is the 45th anniversary of the World’s Largest Peanut Boil that was co-founded by Shriners Aubrey Alford and W.E. Granger.
Baker said probably none of the Shriners who gave birth to the idea of the peanut boil ever thought it would still be going strong after four decades and counting.
“Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas,” sang an older gentleman. He laughed as did those around him. “That’s an old Civil War song. Georgia farm boys, I think, put the words to the tune. Can’t give my name. They’d want me to be on that TV talent show.”
The atmosphere was light and lively at the annual peanut boil. Everyone seemed content to wait for the peanuts to boil.
“We’ll boil four and a half tons or more of peanuts, and we’ve got a ton of parched peanuts for those who like them,” Baker said. “That’s nearly six tons, and we hope to have plenty for sale through the weekend and still have some for sale on Monday. We just don’t want to be boiling on Labor Day.”
The Shriners let tradition go by the wayside a few years ago. They traded the cook pots with a fire going up under them for vats that boil the peanuts in less time, with less energy, and less manpower. And, still, the Shriners can’t keep up with the demand.
“This is shaping up to be a really big year,” Baker said. “We haven’t been able to keep up with the demand. We boiled last night, we were up boiling at 5 o’clock this morning and will be here till late tonight. It takes three and a half hours for the peanuts to boil. We can’t hurry them along. We have to wait.”
Baker said the Shriners appreciate the patience of the peanut patrons and the support they receive from people near and far.
Glen Mothershed takes advantage of the wait time to push the parched peanuts.
“I got put on the parched peanuts back when we first got started, and I’m still here,” he said, with a smile. “I love parched peanuts but folks mostly want the boiled ones but there are some folks that want boiled and parched. Folks up north call them roasted peanuts. Down here, they’re parched and that’s what I’m doing — parching peanuts.”
Neither Baker nor his sidekick “Compton” could explain the popularity of the peanuts boiled in Luverne on Labor Day weekend.
“Every day is big, but Saturday is our biggest day,” Baker said. “And, yeah, people do pass by a dozen places that sell boiled peanuts to get here. And, I think it’s partly tradition and partly because of the nuts we boil.”
The peanuts at the World’s Largest Peanut Boil are Dixie Runners, a variety that is grown especially for the Crenshaw County Shrine Club by a producer in Jay, Florida.
“The Dixie Runners are smaller peanuts, not like the jumbos you get most other places,” Baker said. “And they are exceptionally good peanuts.”
The World’s Largest Peanut Boil is a happening. It’s a Labor Day tradition. So, what if you do have to wait a while? “Goodness how delicious!” those goober peas when you finally get them.