Grandma’s Sampler® pancake breakfast

Two Buttermilk Pancakes n’ butter served with two eggs* and a sampling of Thick-Sliced Bacon, Smoked Sausage and Sugar Cured or Country Ham. Served with Fried Apples or Hashbrown Casserole (170/190 cal) and 100% Pure Natural Syrup.

After putting on the nose bag at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Christiansburg, Virginia late this morning we were ready for a nap.  We had waited about 40 minutes to be seated.  The place was packed! But we hadn’t any misgivings about the delay.  In fact we profited by the wait by going across the street to fill the car with gas. It was initially too cool to sit outside the restaurant in one of the many rocking chairs so we spent the remainder of our waiting time browsing the huge collection of preposterous gifts, clothing and sweets like pecan clusters, sugared popcorn and fudge.

Cracker Barrel is our preferred stop for breakfast when travelling north or south to and from Canada. Most often my particular choice is a variation of the Dr. Atkins  protein diet but lately I’ve happily succumbed to the popular pancake variety. Very often our visits to the restaurant surround celebratory events such as Christmas and Easter or merely as today the weekend crowds.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., doing business as Cracker Barrel, is an American chain of restaurant and gift stores with a Southern country theme. The company was founded by Dan Evins in 1969; its first store was in Lebanon, Tennessee. The corporate offices are located at a different facility in the same city. The chain’s stores were at first positioned near Interstate Highway exits in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States, but expanded across the country during the 1990s and 2000s. As of September 16, 2020, the chain operates 663 stores in 45 states.

Cracker Barrel’s menu is based on traditional Southern cuisine, with appearance and decor designed to resemble an old-fashioned general store. Each location features a front porch lined with wooden rocking chairs, a stone fireplace, and decorative artifacts from the local area. Cracker Barrel partners with country music performers. It engages in charitable activities, such as its assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina and injured war veterans.

During the early 1990s, the company became the subject of controversy when founder and CEO Dan Evins instituted an official company policy prohibiting the hiring of any individual whose “sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” Following massive public backlash and large shareholders such as the New York City Employee Retirement System threatening to vote out the entirety of upper management, the company reversed the policy. For the next decade, Cracker Barrel continued to spark controversy through Evin’s public and private encouragement of discriminatory practices against female and minority employees, practices which violated the company’s own non-discrimination policy.

But Cracker Barrel wasn’t our only source of food today. Our hotel digs for the evening is the Hampton Inn in Hagerstown, Maryland.  It is a new place all ‘round. The location is not far off Interstate 81 in what resembles an industrial park.  There is however every possible convenience for the traveller including a variety of fast food joints and a gas station.  What we hadn’t anticipated was the accommodation of the hotel itself. In the room there are ample outlets for two persons for up to three electronic devices each which in our case includes iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch (plus hearing aids and MacBook computers). The surprise was a refrigerator and microwave oven. At the lobby, in addition to nearby laundry facilities, was an assortment of frozen Marie Callender dinners (things like meatloaf, sweet ‘n sour chicken and mac ‘n cheese), Häagen Dazs ice cream and Pepperidge Farm cookies. We ended “dining in” instead of venturing out. And while attired in our strictly comfortable leisure wear we completed a purgative laundry.

To this general fortuity was added an incomparable sunshine day, glossed early this morning with a magical fog overlaying the Appalachian mountains and rising afternoon temperatures. Everywhere is evidence of Springtime, lavender coloured blossoms and herds of cows grazing verdant hillside fields.

One final footnote: breakfast tomorrow morning after six am is grâce à Mr. Hampton. The front desk assures me there are English muffins, butter and peanut butter in addition to hot waffles!