For Big Mamas

big mamas curtis cake.jpg

A couple of weeks ago I posted a pic of a new treat that hits that sweet/salty spot perfectly: peanut butter cookies dipped in Guittard dark chocolate, banana chips and beer nuts. Yum! I asked y’all what I should call them and got a number of great responses—thank you! Beer chips, “The Farm”, Howlers. A dear friend came close with her suggestion: “The Beale Street.” I also loved Beernana Nutters (!) and “The Curtis” (but I already donned my dark chocolate stout cake with salted caramel The Curtis).

Many folks suggested I call this cookie “The Elvis”—ostensibly because of the performer’s penchant for (fried?) peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Hard pass on that one. As Public Enemy once said: “Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps” (look it up). However. Because I LOVE honoring Black women, I’ve decided to call these Big Mamas.

Not only do the cookies pack “Big Mama” flavor and not only can the name serve as an homage to All the big mama’s in our lives, just in time for Mama’s Day, but the name also allows us to follow this Elvis business back to an originator: Big Mama Thornton.

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was a hella-dynamic R&B singer songwriter and among other things, first to record Leiber and Stoller’s “Hound Dog” in 1952. Her version was number one on the charts for seven weeks and sold almost 2 million copies—helping usher in the rock and roll era (along with Jackie Brenston’s Rocket 88…). Anyway, Thornton's success with "Hound Dog" was followed three years later by Presley’s version. Says wikipedia: His recording at first annoyed Leiber who wrote, "I have no idea what that rabbit business is all about. The song is not about a dog, it's about a man, a freeloading gigolo." But Elvis' version sold ten million copies, so today few fans know that "Hound Dog" began as "an anthem of black female power."

Couldn’t have put it any better and as far as I’m concerned there is only one version of the song. Do yourself a favor and listen to Big Mama’s Hound Dog here.

And come out to Landmark Creamery in Paoli this Saturday between 11-2 and grab a cookie in honor of the Original.

Monica O'Connell