Slang Jang is a dish peculiar to Honey Grove.
Mary Anne Thurman reported:
The legend says that a group of men in a grocery store concocted it for lunch one day. Its popularity grew until there were many people who had Slang Jang picnics at the City Lake. As a child, I can remember many weekends we spent at the lake playing and then eating the delicious chilled Slang Jang. I was a blue ribbon winner in the Slang Jang Contest during the Honey Grove Centennial in 1973.
A basic recipe for Slang Jang:
Mix undrained canned tomatoes with chopped dill pickles and chopped onion to taste. Add a can of oysters, chopped. Add Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Add ice cubes to chill. Serve with saltine crackers.
Many people vary this recipe. Some add canned salmon or vienna sausage in place of the oysters, or in addition to the oysters.
Another recipe is from the Cook Book by the Westminister Guild of the Presbyterian Church, Honey Grove, Texas, 1922.
Honey Grove Slang Jang
Mix together two 3-pound cans of tomatoes and three 2-pound cans of oysters, 1 large onion, 2 large pickles chopped, add vinegar, salt, red and black pepper to taste, 1 large lump of ice to chill, just before serving. Add crushed crackers to thicken.
An article that appeared in sportswriter Tom Lepere's column in the July, 12, 1974, Dallas Times Herald, also told of the lore surrounding Slang Jang in Honey Grove. It detailed the recipe of Shirley Ausburn, who along with her husband, ran the Lake Crockett Lodge at that time. Her recipe contained raw oysters, boiled shrimp and crab meat.
This information was in the Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, June 1, 1956:
"Slang-Jang is neither a soup nor salad but a snack, a relish, a "weird concoction," a "heman's dish," and a "community project."
"It originated back in the days when the farmers bogged through the North Texas mud to Honey Grove to have their cotton ginned, buy their flour, etc. There were no cafes at the time and the boarding houses catered to a more select clientele. So some enteprising farmer or grocer came up with slang-jang to feed the crowd. It was mixed in the grocery store, and each farmer brought his own share and dumped into the tub. They mixed it in a large washtub.
One can of tomatoes for each two people. Canned oysters - quantity depends on size of can and cost. Sliced raw onion - 1 onion to about 3 people. Hot sauce to taste. Place 10-pound block of ice in center of tub and mix well. Eat with crackers, each person dipping out his share with a tin cup. Modern Honey Grovites have refined the process some. They use tomato sauce and almost freeze everything before mixing. Either way, it's good!"
And this is from the Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, August 3, 1956:
Nancy Carlock was 18 years old and in Washington, D.C., where she said: "way back years ago the men used to sit around the local grocery store playing cards in the evening. Honey Grove is just a small town, you know. Well, every night they got hungry and used to nibble on crackers and cheese. Then one night they got the idea of mixing a lot of canned foods together in a washtub and dubbed it slang jang . . . They put anything into it they want to, she explained, which probably accounts for the fact there are many variations of the recipe. Some even put Vienna sausages in it or pork and beans. But I don't care for that. Gene [Gandy] doesn't like oysters in his slang jang, but I think it's absolutely flat without them."
Here is Nancy's version: In a large mixing bowl combine a large can of tomatoes, 1 can salmon, 1 can oysters, chopped dill pickle to taste, 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid from a jar of hot peppers, and chopped hot peppers, to taste. Season with salt and pepper; add a tray or two of ice cubes to chill. Mix and serve in soup bowls. this should be eaten with sharp cheese and crackers.
Nancy said that this dish is normally prepared by men and that she never remembered her mother making it.
Mary Anne also received the following e-mail from Phil Fairchild:
Through the miracles of Google, I came to the Slang Jang/Honey Grove website. I would like to pass along a story that I was told as a child about the delicious red brew. I was born in 1940 and we lived in a little town in Oklahoma all of my childhood. During that period, our family had many "Slang Jang Suppers" made with your recipe. The story I was told as a child was as follows:
My Grandfather, Rial F. Crumley, came to Honey Grove from Tennessee sometime in the late 1800's. He along with someone else (whose name escapes me) ran a General Mdse. store in Honey Grove circa 1880's and 1890's. During that time, one Saturday afternoon, 4 or 5 local cowboys, who had spent most of the afternoon at the saloon, came into the store to make something to sober up with, so they could return to the ranch. According to my grandfather, one of them picked up a new, white, porcelain wash basin and they went down the isle putting stuff in it. They put in canned tomatoes, sour pickles, onion, vinegar, Tabasco, and salt and pepper. They got a chunk of ice out of the ice house, chilled it, and ate it with crackers. My grandfather left Honey Grove and brought his family into Indain Territory about the turn of the century a few years before Oklahoma statehood. He settled in a little town called Roff where he lived out his life. He was almost 100 when he passed away, and I guess Slang Jang was pretty much a regular part of his summer diet until he died.
At any rate, he told us that it was actually "discovered" by a bunch of drunk cowboys. I can't attest to the authenticity of it, but in the years since I have encountered a couple of folks that knew of Slang Jang - one in New Jersey - but both with ancestral roots in Honey Grove.
As I said, whether any of it is true or not, I cant say, but as they say "When legend becomes truth - print the legend!"
The following was found in the Honey Grove Signal:
July 19, 1895: Saturday night the Masonic bretheron to the number of about forty-five gathered at the parlor of W. H. Hill & Co., and partook of a bounteous repast consisting of 'slang-jang' and other favorite dishes.
June 15, 1900: The Odd Fellows had a great time last night. Many of the members and their wives, children and sweethearts gathered at the hall and sat down to a feast of slang jang and ice cream.
October 24, 1902. Tuesday night the Woodmen feasted on the ever-popular dish of slang-jang at their lodge hall and the members left "too full for utterance."
December 12, 1902. The meeting of the [Knights of Pythias] Monday night was largely attended . . . After the transaction of business a bounteous slang-jang was spread which was devoured with true Pythian relish.
December 19, 1902. Hon. John Bonner, of Tyler, Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, visited the lodge in this city Monday night. . . After the address Mr. Bonner was introduced to a slang-jang, and like all others who have become acquainted with the delightful mixture, he went away singing its praises.
January 20, 1905. Reporting on the County Federation of Knights of Pythias, "The grand finale was Honey Grove (S.J.) banquet . . . . Here something like three washtubs of slang-jang was stowed away and the occasion was make a flow of soul as well as a feast of grub."
February 24, 1905. Reporting on the Woodmen lodge meeting, "After the meeting a big slang jang was served at Fritz Messerer's parlor."
October 20, 1905. The ladies of the Methodist church will give a box supper and slang jang at McCraw's Chapel on the night of October 27th.
December 7, 1906. At the Honey Grove Camp of Woodmen, "after the election a slang-jang feast was spread and was partaken of by about fifty choppers."
March 8, 1907. The Honey Grove Signal reported on an article in the Dallas News, which stated: "There may be and there are people who are interested in this new culinary concoction, known in the locality of Honey Grove as "slang-jang." [Editor Lowry . . . told him:] He said that some years ago a party of well-fed Honey Grove men went into the Territory [Indian territory, later Oklahoma] to hunt. They took with them much food, such as could be carried in tins. Moreover, they appear to have taken some other things. The weather was beautiful and game scarce. The party remained in camp waiting for bad weather, having concluded that only when the deer were so depressed by climatic influences that they would cease to run about and would finally lean against trees, they could be killed. Lying around camp for several days they became full of lassitude and other things and the terrible condition was finally reached when each declined to cook. Starvation stared them in the face, though they reclined or were stretched in the midst of that plenty which the canned goods represented. Thus flew one, two, and three days, when some one of them, less obstinate than the other, concluded to minister to his own appetite. He made a fire. He placed a kettle of water on it. He attacked the canned goods. He emptied them of the contacts of tomatoes, corn, beans pineapple, peaches, black berries, ochro, deviled ham, pickled port, pickled beef and all the cove oysters into the pot. Then added pepper and salt ad libitum. He removed the pot when it began to boil. His companions arose, every one of them, with such appetites as perhaps never man had before. They shook hands across the steaming agent of reconciliation. They drank deep drafts of branch water, and other things, to the eternal health of all. They crowned the genius who had conceived the great dish before them, and crowned him with oak leaves, one of the members having asserted that this was what they did with conquerors and public benefactors in the Roman days. Having eaten up everything they had brought with them, being physically unable to pursue even a squirrel, they pulled for home. They brought back nothing but a reminiscence, and that was of the dish they had eaten. Confused in tongue, down and out in head, they stumbled on a name for the new concoction, and thus 'slang jang' was born. It is great dish, so Editor Lowry assured State Press; but a man must prepare himself for the enjoyment of it. He must refrain from the use of all other food for three days. During this time he must drink copiously of that which will make horseradish and sauer kraut indistinguishable to him. He must cultivate a stern, sullen, mean and obstinate disposition. Then, when having undergone the ordeals mentioned, he will eat "slang jang," and call it something beside which the nectar of the gods is cold, stale and funky beer."
June 28, 1907. The Honey Grove Signal reported on a Honey Grove picnic for young people at the Blue Hole, in which 84 young people, including chaperones, members of the Fifty Young People's Bible Class of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, loaded into hay wagons, surries and buggies. "Arriving at the Blue Hole they indulged in a number of games until a late hour when they gathered around the festal board and partook of Honey Grove's famous concoction, slang-jang. The party returned to the city about 11:30."
April 9, 1909. All masons are most cordially invited to attend ledge next Saturday evening . . a banquet will be given, the central attraction of which will be the world-renowned "Honey Grove Slang-Jang."
June 18, 1909. Under the headline "Slang Jang Profaned," the Honey Grove Signal has a long article about a Wolfe City restaurant man advertising slang-jang at 10 cents per saucer. "Does he not know that slang-jang belongs to Honey Grove." . . "Slang-jang is not an article of merchandise." . . . "Slang-jang is for the man who makes it, and all others who can butt in. It is never offered for sale." "But the crowning feat of diabolism against Honey Grove's favorite dish by the Wolfe City caterer . . . is his offer to serve it in saucers. Slang-jang is not an individual matter . . . Permit it to be served in individual saucers and soon the evil day will be upon us when plutocrats and potentates will eat the great democratic hunger-killer from cut-glass bowls and hand-painted china with silver spoons. . . . A crock or a wash-tub for the container, and a pan-metal spoon for every man, is the war-cry and the watch word of everu se;f-respecting Slang-Janger."
January 12, 1912. Honey Grove high school students voted for the first name of the high school annual, and the name Slang-Jang was chosen. "This is very significant because the dish slang-jang originated in Honey Grove."
October 25, 1912. "Slangjang is composed of cove oysters and the juice they swim in, sardines chopped into half lengths, dill pickles desicated, tomato catsup, corn salve, fiddle strings, shoe bottoms, apple peelings, pepper sauce and cat claws. When competently stirred and thoroughly combined into a pulp of about the consistency of chit'lins, and eaten by the dim light of a smoky lamp, away off in the wild woods far from civilization and the constraining influences of feminine society, slangjang is not so bad. That is to say, it might be worse. -- State Press in Dallas News.
January 5, 1915. In observance of the twelfth anniversary of the installation of the rural carrier service at Honey Grove the carriers met at McGaughey's store Tuesday night and enjoyed a feast of slang jang.
May 26, 1916. A big booster meeting looking toward the general betterment of the town and country was held . . . At the close of a meeting a fine slang jang was stirred and soon all were as full of this toothsome edible as they were of enthusiasm.
February 9, 1917. The rural mail carriers celebrated the fourteenth anniversary of the inauguration of rural delivery service out of Honey Grove by partaking of a big slang jang.
April 13, 1917. Woodman Anniversary. "The the Sovereigns will adjourn to Woodmen hall, where the toothsome dish of slang jang will be served.
May 11, 1917. The Bonham Wholesale Grocery Company held a big banquet in Honey Grove. "Then came the slang-jang. It was probably the greatest quantity of the delectable mixture ever stirred, and something like a half a ton of it was consumed."
October 31, 1919. At a meeting of the Commercial Club, "Honey Grove's favorite dish, slang jang, was very much in evidence, and it was the general cerdict that a finer slang jang was never stirred."
March 23, 1923. In Windom about 65 young people went on an outing to Burnett. "Slang-jang was served, after which sticks were cut and delicious marshmallows were toasted."
May 2, 1924. The boys of the Windom Christian church entertained at Bralley Pool. "All had a most enjoyable time. Slang-jang, salads and other popular edibles were served."
June 12, 1925. The ladies of the Methodist church served the Honey Grove Boosters Club "the ever-popular and always delectable dish known as slang-jang, compared to which all other mixtures are insipid."
April 4, 1941. The stockholders of the Coop Gin were having a meeting and "Slang-jang will be served."
April 9, 1943. An advertisement says: Co-op Gin. Annual Stockholders Meeting. Slang Jang Supper.
July 16, 1954. An old-fashioned Honey Grove Slang Jang was the feature of the monthly meeting of the Farmers and Merchants Progressive Club.
May 11, 1956. The Honey Grove Chamber of Commerce was sponsoring a slang-jang supper.
September 7, 1956. The Business and Professional Club had their membership picnic. Twenty members were present to enjoy a slang-jang supper with sandwiches, cold drinks, and pie.
October 12, 1956. A slang-jang supper was held at the Allens Point Community Center. "If you think you don't like Slang-Jang, ask the committee who made it Saturday night how they made it. Yours truly had only ate Slang-Jang once before and along with many others said, "Uk, I don't like it", but many failed to eat it Saturday night, and the kettle was scraped clean."
May 30, 1958. At a meeting on flood control a "Slang-Jang supper preceded several talks."
August 4, 1961. At a meeting of the BPW Club a slang jang supper was served and "all present agreed the hostesses were tops in preparing this tasty Honey Grove dish."
December 7, 1962. Several gathered at the Monkstown Community Center for a Slang Jang supper and played 42.
September 6, 1968. A Honey Grove institution, known as "slang jang" was reestablished Monday night at the regular monthly meeting of the Honey Grove Chamber of Commerce. "Slang-jang", an original for Honey Grove, has been more or less dormant for the past few years, and Mondy night's affair was the first at which slang-jang has been served here in some time. . . . Preparing the slang jang were Wash Underwood, Jack Shelton, Roy Lochridge and Lyle Wise.
Read another long article about Slang Jang by John W. Wilson