I grew up in a household where all breakfast grains and hot cereals mattered.
Oatmeal? Mattered. Cream of Wheat? Mattered. Grits? Mattered. Ralston? Mattered. And just in case the last two sentences confused you, know that 1) “Ralston” is not a typo because 2) Ralston is a very yummy and grainy hot cereal that 3) my dad used to make for me with a generous helping of toast and butter. Sometimes, when ambitious, I’d make Ralston sandwiches where I’d take a piece of toast, spread Ralston and some sugar and butter on it, fold the toast in half and then eat the shit out of it while bouncing my shoulders and humming the DuckTales theme song. And then sometimes I’d get even more ambitious, and I’d take the Ralston sandwich and then DIP IT INTO THE BOWL OF RALSTON on some meta, Matrix-type shit. There truly was no spoon because I did that shit with my hands.
Anyway, while there was no breakfast-cereal discrimination in the Young household—#AllHotGrainsAndHotCerealsMattered—Cream of Wheat was clearly the preferred option. It was my dad’s favorite, my dad’s favorite to make for me and the only one I was so enamored with that I learned how to make it myself. I am still not above whipping up a bowl of Cream of Wheat at midnight after a night of clubbing or perhaps just while watching Desus & Mero. Which would probably make me the only nigga in America eating Cream of Wheat while watching Desus & Mero.
Grits, however, never existed as their own meal. When my mom would make bacon and eggs and French toast, she’d sometimes add a bowl of grits. Although they were tasty as fuck, too, they felt like an afterthought. A breakfast garnish. A nice little surprise. Like, “Oh, Mom made grits, too? Cool!”
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that grits were, for some people, the most important part of the meal. Like, you could have shrimp and steak and lobster and grits, but if the grits weren’t on point, the shrimp and steak and lobster were going in the trash, too.
And sometimes they’re the entire meal. I remember having a conversation several years ago with a friend and asking what she ate for dinner the night before:
“Did you end up ordering that pizza?”
“Nah. I just made some grits.”
“Grits and what?”
“What do you mean ‘and what’?”
“What else did you make with your grits?”
“Just grits, you Pittsburgh-ass nigga.”
So imagine my surprise when learning that the preparation of grits was a contentious conversation among groups of grit-loving niggas. Particularly, whether it’s proper and/or rude to put salt or sugar on them.
During last year’s World War Grit, I wrote a piece expressing that grits didn’t matter enough for people to even bother arguing about how to eat them.
From “Sugar or Salt or Who Gives a Shit Because Grits Don’t Matter Enough to Have This Debate”:
I won’t lie and say that grits don’t matter. Because they do. If you were to order a plate of shrimp and grits and the grits were missing or substandard, you’d be upset. And your disappointment would be justified.
You know what else matters the same way? Bottle caps. And plastic sporks. And iPhone cases. And paperclips. And the font KFC uses for its logo. And tonsils. And gospel rap. And Subarus. And Rita Ora.
Yet, if a group of aliens swooped down to Earth tonight and took each of these items, we’d spend the next week confused that the aliens would take such randomly specific things. (“They took all of our paperclips AND Rita Ora? That’s so bizarre.”) We’d also spend some time doing inventory to make sure they didn’t take anything else we wouldn’t notice or miss. (“Wait, so they took Rita Ora but left Blake Lively behind? Are you sure? That’s so bizarre.”)
But then, after a week, we’d go on with the rest of our lives, and never think about bottle caps and plastic sporks and gospel rap and grits again.
In summary, eat grits however the fuck you prefer. With salt. With sugar. With butter. With cheese. With salt, sugar, butter, and cheese at the same time. With hot dogs. With lettuce. Off of a walrus’s ass. While at brunch with a not-abducted-by-aliens-yet Rita Ora. It doesn’t matter. Because grits don’t matter enough either.
Since then, however, I’ve also come to realize that there are clear characteristics with each side of the grit wars. The salt faction are apparently the niggas with integrity and fortitude and grace. The salt faction grew up with grandmothers and great-aunts who had doorways full of beads separating the kitchen and the dining room. Shows like Greenleaf and Queen Sugar are filled with salt-on-grits-ass niggas.
Sugar-on-grits niggas, however, wear slacks and jeans with exposed ankles even when it’s not weather appropriate. They shop at Chico’s and Anthropologie and take showers before they go to the gym. Even if they’re technically not Kappas, sugar-on-grits niggas act Kappily AF. Basically, sugar on grits is the white people of breakfast grains and hot cereals.
(For the record, I’m still team “Eat grits however the fuck you want to.” Also, Cream of Wheat is still better.)