In The Help, the character Minny reveres Crisco, calling it "the most important invention in the kitchen since jarred mayonnaise." She uses Crisco to fry chicken to perfection, admiring the way the vegetable shortening "bubbles up like a song" as it cooks.
Cookbook author Martha Hall Foose says that in the early 1960s, The Time Life Picture Cook Book inspired Mississippi ladies to "go exotic" by adding ingredients like curry powder and orange zest to egg-salad tea sandwiches.
According to Southern tradition, the hostess at a ladies' luncheon should serve little meatballs in a chafing dish or on a platter with toothpicks as a satisfying snack for any men in attendance. The recipe here is by Debra Shaw, the cafeteria manager at the Golden Age Nursing Home in Greenwood.
Little slices of party rye are a Southern favorite for tea sandwiches: ""You don't see regular rye down here every day," Martha Hall Foose says. If party rye isn't available, use a cookie cutter to create rounds from regular bread slices.
The Help's ending hinges on a secret involving Minny's famous chocolate pie. Newspaper columnist Lee Ann Flemming, one of the best bakers in Greenwood, made 53 chocolate pies during filming, including 12 vegan and gluten-free versions she prepared in just one day for actress Bryce Dallas Howard. Her fudgy version here is neither vegan nor gluten-free: It's as classic as it gets. You can make your own crust, but Flemming uses packaged.
Sam German created the mild, dark baking chocolate called Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate in 1852; in the late 1950s, a Dallas newspaper published a recipe for German's Chocolate Cake. The dessert took the South by storm and has been a staple ever since.