Seven Sweets and Seven Sours

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, August 30, 1913:  The Lutherans had a Sunday School picnic down at the park today. Of course, I went. Had a pretty good time, but I guess I ate too much from the way I feel now.

A sweet food
A sweet food
A sour food

Picture Source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The food must have been really good. There is an old Pennsylvania saying that meals should have “seven sweets and seven sours.”

The idea was to balance sweets and sours. In other words, eat some cake—but eat some pickles, too.

The phrase is often associated with the Amish, but traditionally it was often used throughout the state in German American communities.

There probably was a plethora of both sweets and sours at the picnic. I bet that Grandma had a sweet tooth and overdid the sweets. 🙂

25 thoughts on “Seven Sweets and Seven Sours

  1. I was raised Catholic but married a Lutheran and currently practice Lutheran. I remember potluck meals growing up but I can definitely vouch for massive amounts of food at Lutheran fellowship events.

  2. I can’t imagine how much work that layer cake would be. I’d have so many crumbs in the icing it wouldn’t be funny. I’ve been on a real pickle kick lately, enjoying them on toast with miracle whip. I’d go for pickles over cake 9 times out of 10.

  3. On our farm, my grandmother made “sugar on snow,” maple syrup boiled down and poured on snow to make a very sweet taffy-like candy. It was always served with pickles!

    1. Interesting combination–The sugar on snow sounds intriguing and like it would be a fun activity to make, but I’m not sure about the pickles part. 🙂

  4. I know my Lutheran congregation loves good food and potlucks. I have a booklet from my Norwegian cousins which has the list of Seven Sweets and Severn Sours which “MUST” be served at Christmas!

  5. You reminded me of the kind of pickle relishes my Dad’s Aunt (my Great Aunt) would serve when we visited. It was the only time I could have a burger with chow chow relish, corn relish or Picalily Relish. I am getting hungry thinking about it.

    I love the way you bring back so many memories for your readers while we share your dear Grandmother’s experienes.

    1. Thanks for the nice note. I like doing the research for this blog and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone especially enjoys it.

      I didn’t particularly like the many pickled foods that we ate when I was a child. I’ve been surprised how much I miss them now–and how much I enjoy the various pickles and relishes when I make them.

  6. I never heard of that expression either…that is interesting. My mom did enjoy her sweets and her sours..guess I am too American, I only like my sweets!! 😉

  7. One line of a song I wrote about being hospitalized in Japan (almost 40 years ago, now) was, “I don’t know what’s in the food I eat. Some of it’s sour and some of it’s sweet.” Every meal, I was served tiny portions of something sour, something bitter, something sweet, and something salty around a bowl of white rice, and a plate of fish. The fish always had its head still on. I survived a three week stay there — but to this day I don’t enjoy Japanese food. It is sad to judge a nation’s cuisine by hospital food, but there it is.

  8. I had totally forgotten about “seven sweets and seven sours!” My Pennsylvania-born grandmother used to say that!

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