For decades, people have been arguing over the correct pronunciation of the word “pecan”. Thousands of hours of research have been exhausted. I have interviewed people from all over the United States and Europe and I feel confident that this paradox has been resolved.
My research began across the pond. I traveled all over Europe seeking out various cultures so I could get a range of demographics in which to base my studies. Embarking in London, I traveled the countryside. First, I headed down south to Oxford and Southampton. Next I traveled through Bristol on my way to Wales. I scoured Wales as I journeyed up to the legendary Liverpool, home of the most influential band in rock and roll history, The Tiddly Winkers.
Now I drove what felt like forever up to Scotland. Afterwards I took a ferry to Ireland. I knocked on doors. I pounded the pavement. I interviewed thousands of people. How do they pronounce “pecan” in Europe? After 6 long months of research I discovered that there are no pecan trees in Europe nearly ninety-nine percent of the people I talked with had no idea what a pecan was.
Discouraged, I flew back to the United States. Once again I scoured the countryside. I began with the northern states. I stopped people in the big cities. I traveled deep into the forests and interviewed creepy people living in desolate cabins. How do people up north pronounce this word? Is it “peh-cawn” or “Pee-Can”? Resounding results pointed to “peh-cawn”.
Well, that must mean one thing. The pronunciation as “pee-can” must come from the south. YES! This only makes sense. I remembered watching the old sitcom from the 1960’s called “The Beverly Hillbillies”. The character named Granny always talked about making “pee-can” pie. That is how she pronounces the word “pecan”. This must be a southern thing.
I went straight to the most redneck areas of the south. Southerners call these areas “Bass Pro Shop”. I journeyed deep into the hunting section to seek out the experts. I questioned two thousand hunters with “Do you know what a “pee-can” is.
THE ANSWER WAS “YES”!
Eureka! It is a Southern thing! People down south refer to the nut as a “pee-can”!
All of these hunters answered me with the same exact response. “Yes, I know what a Pee Can is. That is what I take to the deer blind and use when I have to relieve all the beer I’ve been drinking”.
After their response, I would pull out a pecan from my pocket and ask them, “what is this then”?
The would always respond stating a response sounding like “peh-cawn”.
So where the heck did the pronunciation “pee-can” come from? We have to go back to 1962 and the debut of the television show The Beverly Hillbillies. The show was written by Paul Henning who grew up o a farm in Missouri, but I doubt he grew up eating possum stew. Possums are just big rats. Huge eats rat stew? To make the word “pecan” sound like it was spoken with a southern draw, the word was changed from “peh-cawn” to “pee-can”.
This is just a case where fiction becomes reality.
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