The Mormon Diaries, Part Five: Beer And Boozing In Provo, Utah

Mormons Pioneers

The year was 1847. An Illinois mob had gunned down church founder Joseph Smith for repeatedly proposing to the locals’ wives (Ostling & Ostling (1999, p. 14); Brodie (1971, pp. 369–371). Now the locals hunted Joseph Smith’s followers for torching the town printing press after it published newspapers critical of Joseph Smith’s polygamy practices.

And so, Brigham Young and the early Mormons took flight. They packed up their wagons, piled high with salted meats and hearty grains, and fled West.

The settlers fanned out in search of the “Promised Land”, a utopia of verdant pastures; a bucolic sanctuary where they could practice polygamy in peace.

Brigham Young and the settlers did not find this paradise. They found a barren but picturesque expanse of sun-streaked canyons and sun-cracked desert sands. Valleys of bone-chilling winters and scorching summers where even the lakes were salt. An inhabitable land no one would want to inhabit. An unwanted land for a wanted people. The Great Salt Lake Valley, in short, was perfect.

Mormons Canyon

And so it was on June 27, 1847—now dubbed Pioneer Day—Brigham Young decreed the Mormons would flee no more. They would plant potatoes, turnips, unpack their salted meats and irrigate their “Promised Land”.

The Mormons dug in, but they never buried their rough-and-tumble cultural heritage and diet. The LDS Church’s Essentials of Home Production and Storage manual instructs Mormons to store at least a year of food supplies. Back then, a hearty cornucopia of salted meats, potatoes, and wholesome grains.

But, today, in the age of Wal-Mart, a corrugated cornucopia of Campbell’s-stamped canned goods, powdered milk jars, Jell-O and Hamburger Helper boxes are stacked high in deep pantries.

Easy to serve and easier to clean for perpetually on-the-go Mormon mothers ladling out Jell-o while juggling four kids, PTA duties, church, volunteer work, and whatever else the Mormon father wants. After all, the Mormon “woman’s primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband”.

And so, the rapid-fire, conveyer-belted mass-produced goods of the Kraft factory are permanent food staples of the Mormon household. So yes, Mormon food makes for the blandest of Pinterest food pages:

Mormons Potatoes

Funereal Potatoes: Funereal potatoes are densely caloric, dairy-heavy Mormon comfort food. Originally served following somber occasions, funereal potatoes are now served whenever, wherever. A casserole of shredded cooked frozen potatoes, canned cream of chicken soup, and sour cream, topped with crumbled cornflakes and baked until molten. Fruits or vegetables need not apply.


6 c. diced potatoes
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
1 c. sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
2 c. grated cheddar cheese, or use a mix of cheddar and gruyere
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 c. crushed cornflakes or panko bread crumbs (optional for crumb topping)
Additional 2 T. butter (optional for crumb topping)

Chocolate Milk: Chocolate is technically caffeinated and, therefore, taboo according to the LDS’ Word of Wisdom. But Mormons pick and choose their taboos. Mormon singer Marie Osmond hailed chocolate as “Mormon medication.”

Chocolate milk, then, is the Mormon panacea. The Mormon male is most content while two to three chocolate milks deep and reflecting on how to cut the lines at Disney World. (Secret: Mormon wife waits in line for next ride with baby as Fast Pass-wielding father and other children riding Thunder Mountain. And repeat.)

Mitt Romney consoled himself in the days after his 2012 loss by drowning his sorrows in chocolate milk with his family.

Before riding Splash Mountain with his 40-and 30-something adult sons at Disneyland.

Mormons Mitt Romney

Decaffeinated Coffee: Inconclusive, but probably approved. Once upon a time, in the Holy Year of 1988, when George Michael’s “Faith” lorded over the billboards, the LDS Church decreed decaf coffee did lead to heightened risk of ulcers. But the church did not outright forbid decaf coffee.

Church bishops were instructed not to deny decaf coffee-drinking church members entry. Apostle John Widtsoe advised churchgoers drinking decaffeinated drinks does not violate the Word of Wisdom.

Fry Sauce: A modern marvel Mormon culinary ingenuity. Equal parts ketchup. Equal parts mayonnaise.

Every Friday night, BYU students swarm Arctic Circle, Five Guys, and Provo’s other neon-lighted burger chains to drag fries through fry sauce, recount tales from their Missions, and laugh for maybe a little too hard for a little long at CBS sit-com promos.

Jell-O: Interesting Facts About Utah: Utah leads the nation in anti-depressant per capita consumption. Utah also leads the nation in Jell-O per capita consumption. Upon toppling Iowa for this most distinguished of state honors in 2001, Utah offered Bill Cosby honorary state citizenship.

Bill Cosby did not return comment, perhaps because Utah’s African American population stands at 1.3%. Half of which may be the Utah Jazz starting five–or even less than the Native American population: 1.5%. (Or compared to a white population of 92%.)


From The PBH NetworkHot On The Web
Hot On The Web