National Pralines Day: June 24

Do you say pea-can or puh-cun, pray-leen or praa-leen? National Praline Day is June 24 and it is time to celebrate the smooth, sweet candy!

National Pralines Day on June 24 celebrates a nut-based creamy confection that can be enjoyed in an assortment of ways. Pralines are a smooth and sweet treat made with nuts, sugar, and sometimes cream. They can be used in cookies, candy, and as a paste and they’re often made with pecans or almonds. The name is believed to have been inspired by French sugar industrialist and French diplomat César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin who used a powder called pralin made by grinding sugar-coated nuts.

Pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

History of National Pralines Day

During the seventeenth century, France’s Marshal du Plessis-Praslin was responsible for the fame and name of the praline but many believe that it was his chef, Clement Lassagne who was the true creator. 

In one account, the idea for pralines came from Lassagne’s children who snacked on the leftover almonds and caramel from earlier culinary projects which inspired the idea. In another, the children had caramelized almonds over a candle and Lassagne followed the scent and discovered the magic of the mixture. And in yet another, Lassagne’s apprentice accidentally knocked a container of almonds into a vat of cooking caramel.

Pralines were brought from France to New Orleans by Ursuline nuns in 1727. They oversaw young women called casket girls who under the request of Bienville were meant to marry New Orleans’ colonists. The casket girls were taught the art of praline making along with academics and domestic work for the purpose of becoming good wives to the settlers. Pralines became part of the local tradition in New Orleans and now they’re an essential part of creole cuisine. 

Pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In the nineteenth century, the ingredients switched from almonds to pecans because of their availability in New Orleans and cream was used to thicken the texture. Women in the French Quarter who sold pralines were called Pralinieres and selling pralines gave free people of color job opportunities when work was limited. Instead of being indentured servants or kept-women, women of lesser means were given more autonomy thanks to this alternate avenue of income. The praline expanded into other parts of the country and they became popular in Texas and Georgia as a favored southern confection but it all began in The Big Easy.

Pralines haven’t changed much from their original form. The ingredients still consist of pecans, dairy, and sugar and some have added vanilla and maple for more flavor. People have experimented with pralines in many different ways but the original is still just as loved as it was back then. The creamy sweetness of this confection still holds its own amongst many other tasty treats.

Pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

National Pralines Day timeline

  • 1600s: Marshal du Plessis-Praslin’s chef Clement Lassagne invented the praline by mixing cooked caramel and almonds
  • 1727: Pralines are brought over from France by Ursuline nuns who used young women to create them as they were molded for marriage
  • 1800s: Free women of color were permitted to sell pralines as Pralinieres offering them more economic security and better opportunity
  • 2000s: Pralines have remained very similar to their origins and are considered an essential part of southern culinary tradition
Pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

How to celebrate National Pralines Day

Make pralines: The best way to celebrate National Pralines Day is to make them yourself! Making pralines is not as hard as it seems. Get some butter, sugar, corn syrup, and pecans, and you are all set. Follow a recipe online or in a cookbook to get the perfect mixture of ingredients.

Visit a praline shop: Search for a local praline shop and sample all the treats they have to offer. From traditional flavors like pecan and chocolate to more unique combinations like peanut butter and bacon, you are sure to find something that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Make a praline trail mix: Mix together some chopped nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate chips with some crushed pralines for a delicious snack that you can take on the go.

Go to a walking tour: A trip might be in order to truly appreciate the pralines American origins. Learn about the history of pralines on a walking tour in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the birthplace of pralines in the United States. The best part of it is that afterward, you can treat yourself to more pralines!

Pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

5 fun facts about National Pralines Day

1. After the praline: Chef Lassagne opened a sweet shop in France called the Maison du Praslin that’s still around today.

2. Three pralines: The three main types of pralines are Belgian Pralines, French Pralines, and American Pralines.

3. The Belgian praline: Belgian pralines have a hard chocolate shell with a softer or liquid filling.

4. Belgian names: Belgian pralines are also called Belgian chocolates, Belgeian Choclate fondants, and chocolate bonbons.

5. Sweet like candy: In New Orleans, pralines are sometimes called pecan candy.

Worth Pondering…

It was always easier for me to show love than to say it. The word reminded me of pralines: small, precious, almost unbearable sweet.

—Jodi Picoult

The Sweetest Place in La Grange

There’s a real Katy behind KatySweet

KatySweet started—like so many food companies—in the founder’s home kitchen. Company founder Kay Carlton started KatySweet Confectioners in 1996 with a recipe passed down from her grandmother to her mother to her. Kay spent several years developing the recipe for the commercial market without sacrificing the homemade taste.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

KatySweet Confectioners started in their founder’s home kitchen, like so many other food companies. Kay Carlton, the “Katy” behind KatySweet (and the little girl in their logo, created by her son), started the company with a candy recipe for Texas-style pecan pralines that was passed down from the grandmother.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In her family, it was always called ‘Aunt Billie’s Brown Candy.” She came from a family of seven children so they didn’t buy anything that they could make themselves which is something that a lot of local families had in common back then. Kay suspects that this need to be self-supporting is part of the reason why so many local families had their versions of the pecan praline. On each special occasion and on holidays, Kay found herself making several batches of her family’s version of creamy pecan pralines for her friends and family members.

Related article: Pecan Pralines a Sweet Tradition

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mrs. Carlton and her husband already owned a successful printing and manufacturing business and finally, in 1995, Kay decided to combine her love of business with her love of candy and founded KatySweet.

In 2001, Kay built a new commercial kitchen at their current location at 4321 West State Highway 71 in La Grange designed from the ground up to produce the original family recipes using Kay’s time-tested methods. In 2016, they added a 24,000-square-foot facility to meet current and future production demands.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The KatySweet distribution network includes retail and wholesale customers nationwide. The company’s national distribution is what they have been able to grow on. They deliver to nearly 5,000 locations throughout the United States.

KatySweet has big supporters in all the Southern states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Chicago, and even Hawaii and Alaska. Their maple walnut flavor is a hit in the New England areas like Vermont and New Hampshire. In 2018 alone, KatySweet sold over 300,000 pounds of candy, two ounces at a time. They’ve been fortunate to distribute their candy through Walgreens and CVS, which gives them a big footprint. They also distribute through regional grocery stores.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kate and her team spent several years perfecting their recipes. Their proprietary manufacturing methods allow them to make their candy without losing the homemade taste and quality that got them started.

Related article: Czech Out La Grange

To master a large-scale version of the recipe, Kay attended numerous candy stores when she first started. It’s not simply ‘I need ten times a much so I’ll multiply everything by ten. It doesn’t work like that. KatySweet uses a two-part process which is quite common. The tricky part is the caramelization.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They continue to use the best ingredients to make Kay’s recipes without losing the homemade taste and quality that got them started. And they do it all without using chemicals and preservatives. When customers bite into one of their Creamy Original Pralines or Chewy Pralines they taste the finest ingredients and the care that goes into making every piece.

Their candy is even gluten-free and “kosher.” A rabbi comes from Houston every three months to inspect the premises and process. They also have a “no sugar added” variety. KatySweet is always trying to create fresh, new products to appeal to a larger crowd.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kay has learned after achieving so much success and having to expand and move into bigger facilities a few times, that it’s important to plan where she can.

Related article: Best Getaway to Czech Out

Her pralines are some of the few natural products on the candy market today. Using a two-kettle method to achieve a creamy praline, you’ll never get a dry, gritty taste when you bite into a KatySweet Praline. And, KatySweet candy is made to order, so it’s always fresh.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What a great ready-to-give treat! Choose your favorite flavor from the 2 oz. Original Creamy, Texas Style Chewy, or No Sugar Added Chewy Praline. Six candies in a see-through gift box.

Related article: Czech Please: We Gotcha Kolache!

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

I make a mean pecan pie and I have a great recipe for pralines—also using pecans. Pralines take a lot of patience, and patience is a must in the duck blind as well as in the kitchen. Good things come to those who wait.

—Phil Robertson

Make Today Romantic by Putting the iPhone Away

Today is a wonderful day for a luxury RV resort getaway

Okay, so I’ve done some research and St. Valentine was a real dude who died sometime around A.D. 270.

Well, it’s more complicated than that since there were a bunch of different St. Valentines. A lot of them were martyrs and one was beheaded. You can see a flower-adorned skull of one of those St. Valentines in Rome (if you are so inclined). The official St. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy (Kill two birds at once, eh!).

Pecan pie at Friday’s Fried Chicken in Shiner, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many people believe that the genius medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer is who officially invented the holiday when he wrote a poem called “Parliament of Foules” (sounds like a great title for my memoir!) which links the St. Valentine’s feast day to “courtly love,” aka an extramarital affair between a married noblewoman and a knight like Garth Brooks sang in one of his many hits, “The Thunder Roars”.

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okay, phew, I’m exhausted from all that history! My point is, you can make Valentine’s Day about whatever you want it to be about. If you want it to be about love and Godiva, so be it! If you want to make it about being a martyr and complaining, that is your right! Or if you just want to say, today is about bees, epilepsy, and medieval poetry—I think that could be a fun twist on the usual parade of candy hearts and red roses. I commend you!

Tremblor Brewing in Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Looking to history can be really helpful sometimes because it reminds us that most of the things that we think mean one thing now actually meant a completely different thing a long time ago so why not embrace the mess of time and the confusion of meaning!

Shiner brews at the brewery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As always, I’m here to help with lots of different ideas for how to think about today. Want to bliss out with something deeply satisfying in Shiner, Texas. Prosit! That’s what ought to come out of your mouth before the refreshing goodness that is a free beer goes into it. (It’s a toast that means “good health.”) I have just the article for you!

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want to imagine you’re the protagonist of a romance novel set in Savannah, Georgia? Savannah wears its Southern charm like its majestic oak trees wear soft Spanish moss—with pure, old-fashioned elegance. You’ve come to the right place! What’s more romantic than a carriage ride around Savannah? Savannah is enchanting after dusk as you meander under age-old live oaks draped with moss, listening to the soothing sounds of the clip-clop of the horse. Countless love stories in Savannah’s history started with a carriage ride.

Related: Savannah: Southern Charm, History & Spanish Moss

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Searching for a romantic getaway? If the red-rock cliffs that preside over Sedona don’t make you pause, it’s time to book a trip to Mars, because Earth has nothing left to offer. In the early evening, the spires reflect a reddish-purple hue that no photo could ever hope to do justice. Whether or not you subscribe to New Age beliefs, it’s easy to understand why people say there’s an energy here that’s different than anywhere else on the planet.

KatySweet pecan pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Looking for pecan pralines for Valentine’s Day? Search no more! KatySweet offers three different styles of pralines: Original Creamy, Texas-Style Chewy, and No Sugar Added. These Texas-style chewy pralines are made with rich, buttery caramel, fresh organic Southern pecans, and natural maple syrup. Mmm, delicious. Don’t you deserve to feel good about what you eat? This savory candy will dazzle the senses.

Related: Pecan Pralines a Sweet Tradition

Flavored pistachios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want a nutty treat? I’ve got you covered. McGinn’s PistachioLand, the nuttiest place in New Mexico, offers an array of gift packages. The unique high desert conditions in Alamogordo produce exquisite tasting pistachios. They have also created their own unique blend of spices and flavors and roast the pistachios in many varieties like garlic, Habanero Limon, black pepper, lemon-lime, ranch, spicy ranch, barbeque, red chili, green chili, and classic salted. Their pistachio candies including Pistachio Brittle and Atomic Hot Chili Pistachio Brittle are unique and delicious. Into roadside attractions, McGinn’s is home to the World’s Largest Pistachio, a one-of-a-kind mammoth outdoor sculpture.

Related: Announcing the Absolutely Best Campgrounds and RV Parks for 2022

And finally…the very best in luxury RV resorts for that Valentine’s Day getaway? Yes, please.

The MotorCoach Resort in Chandler, Arizona The MotorCoach Resort in Chandler, Arizona

A luxury RV park or a motorcoach resort sparkles and catches the eye of every RVer who pulls onto the supersized sites. Depending on the resort, upgraded RV sites offer numerous amenities that may include long driveways, casitas, patios with propane grills and outdoor furniture, grass-lined concrete pads, outdoor lighting, gas fire pits, and even fenced-in areas for dogs. Luxury sites almost always have full hookups, shade trees, satellite or cable services, and quality Wi-Fi.

Bella Terra of Gulf Resorts, Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And yes, I’ve got you covered.

Whether you want to look to the past for answers, the present for romance, or the future for spring road trips, I hope RVing with Rex can help. If you’re snuggling up with your loved one today, bless you! If you’re courting someone new, godspeed. If you’re alone and loving it (or hating it), I hope you remember that St. Valentine didn’t get beheaded so that you could feel lonely! Call a friend, write a medieval poem to Chaucer (he is listening), or make awkward small talk with your Uber Eats delivery guy!

Related: 10 RV Parks across America that are One Step above the Rest

The Springs at Borrego RV and Gulf Resort in Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the candy hearts say: “Fax Me”!

Worth Pondering…

Valentines Day

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

―Charles M. Schulz

This Way to the Little Creamery

It all started on a hot summer day in 1907

In Texas and other parts of the Southeastern United States, it’s not summer without Blue Bell ice cream. The regional favorite is the go-to choice on a hot and humid day (or a cold one, this is a no-judgment zone). It’s an ice cream brand with a small-town feel and image but a big business reputation and a devoted following of ice cream lovers who load up their freezers with the stuff.

Blue Bell Creameries © Rex Vogel, all rights

Founded in 1907 as the Brenham Creamery Company, Blue Bell began operation making butter. In 1911, ice cream for local consumption began production. Ice cream distribution was limited to the small town of Brenham in the Brazos River country of south-central Texas about 70 miles west of Houston.

Blue Bell Creameries © Rex Vogel, all rights

As transportation improved, distribution expanded. The company name was changed to Blue Bell Creameries in honor of a Texas wildflower in 1930. A reproduction of one of the first route trucks, a 1932 Ford, sits outside company headquarters.

Related: Getting in our Licks on National Ice Cream Day

Blue Bell Creameries © Rex Vogel, all rights

The rest is history! Blue Bell ice cream flavors are often the exciting grand finale of any celebration. The products are now sold in 18 states according to its website. That’s quite a change for a company that still promotes itself as a small town business selling a locally produced product. “We eat all we can and sell the rest,” one of the company’s favorite marketing slogans says.

Blue Bell Creameries © Rex Vogel, all rights

The century-old, Brenham-born brand offers a wide variety of ice creams, sherbets, and frozen snacks. Ice cream flavors include 25 classic year-round options like cookie two-step, mint chocolate chip, and pistachio almond. As well as rotational limited-time flavors like fudge brownie decadence, spiced pumpkin pecan, and confetti cake. And yes, I’ve tried them all!

Blue Bell Creameries © Rex Vogel, all rights

I taste-tested 11 flavors of Blue Bell ice cream and ranked them starting with my go-to favorite.

Another scrumptious Texas dessert: Along the Kolache Trail

Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream

Praline-coated pecans are a thing?? These are so good.

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

The Original Homemade Vanilla

Nothing is better than Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream. This vanilla is so rich, creamy, and delicious. When have you ever wanted more! And, oh so good with pecan pie!

Moo-llennium Crunch

Chocolate and caramel chunks in every bite make this rich and creamy treat so good.

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

Buttered Pecan

This is so popular in the south. Pecans in every single scoop!

Another scrumptious Texas dessert: Pecan Pralines a Sweet Tradition

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Who needs cookies and milk when you can have it all in one?

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

Butter Crunch

Peanut butter mixed with ice cream could never be better.

Homemade Vanilla

This vanilla is so rich, creamy, and delicious. When have you ever wanted

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla

Real strawberries in every bite plus the original homemade vanilla! Yes, please.

Related: Why I Love Blue Bell Ice Cream

Rocky Road

The dark chocolate ice cream is so good. Plus, it has mini marshmallows and nuts!

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

Cookies ‘n Cream

Oreo cookies in every bite! That’s a win-win for everyone.

Southern Blackberry Cobbler

The decadent concoction involves a luscious blackberry ice cream combined with flaky pie crust pieces and a blackberry sauce swirl.

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

Honestly, all Blue Bell ice cream is so good. Any other brand could never compare.

The beloved ice cream brand has two creamery locations you can visit—one in its hometown of Brenham, Texas, and another in Sylacauga, Alabama, outside Birmingham. And you can get a taste of your favorite Blue Bell flavors made fresh, right there on the premises.

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights

At the original Blue Bell in Brenham, a small town about halfway between Austin and Houston, you can get a scoop of ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlor, view where the ice cream is made from the famous Observation Deck, shop in the Country Store, and learn about the creamery’s 100-plus-year history at the Visitor Center.

At Sylacauga, visitors can indulge at the Ice Cream Parlor, check out where the ice cream is made, and do some shopping at the Country Store.

A trip to Blue Bell isn’t complete without exploring the beautiful surrounding communities.

Related: The Essential Guide to Eating Texas

Ice cream is like a good friend. Sweet, nostalgic, ready on the freezer shelf whenever you need it! And it will never abandon you and when it’s the only dessert that will satisfy a cool, creamy craving, the frozen aisle is pretty close to paradise.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

—Howard Johnson

Pecan Pralines a Sweet Tradition

Pralines, the sweet pecan candy with a buttery, brown-sugar smell

With COVID-19 (Coronavirus) everyone’s lives—yours and ours—were thrown into a scrambled state of flux. Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack the RV again and head out on our next adventure. In the meantime, here’s some inspiration for the future.

Cultural influences played a factor in the innovation of the candy in the American South. French settlers introduced their version in Louisiana where sugarcane plantations were a dominant industry and pecan trees were prevalent.

Savannah’s Candy Kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The original praline was a 17th-century French dessert described as “almonds coated in boiled sugar.” According to popular accounts, they were originally created by the cook to French diplomat of César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin, a 17th-century sugar industrialist and were called “praslin.”

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some believe the comte had his cook devise an almond-studded candy to woo his various love interests. Or perhaps it was his butler who created the treat to cure Praslin’s painful indigestion or a clumsy young apprentice who knocked over a container of almonds into a vat of cooking caramelized sugar.

Savannah’s Candy Kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The praline that emerged in the South was markedly different from its contemporary European counterpart. African-American cooks working for French colonists adapted the recipe by using native Louisiana pecans and adding cream. Voilà, the velvety, sugary pecan patty was born.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is believed that pralines were brought over from France by the Ursuline nuns who came to New Orleans in 1727. They were in charge of the casket girls, young women sent over from France at the request of Bienville to marry New Orleans colonists. They were called casket girls (les filles a la casette) because each came to the city furnished with a casket-box filled with all their worldly possessions.

The nuns instructed the casket girls to be upstanding women in society as well as good wives to the settlers and in the course of their scholastic and domestic educations the girls were taught the art of praline making. Eventually the casket girls were married off and began to settle throughout southern Louisiana.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In his 1919 book about pecans, the agricultural historian Rodney Howard True called the crop “America’s most important contribution to the world’s stock of edible nuts.” Native peoples consumed pecans before Europeans arrived in America but the pecan’s history as a harvested nut is linked to a formerly enslaved Louisianan named Antoine.

Savannah’s Candy Kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The University of Georgia professor Lenny Wells wrote in his book, Pecan: America’s Native Nut Tree, that the nut had been harvested and perhaps even sold for centuries but that it was not viewed as capable of being industrialized. That perception shifted in 1846, Wells wrote, “thanks to the skill of a slave.” Antoine’s ability to produce high-quality nuts came through mastering the perfect combination of grafting partners to consistently produce premium nuts.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By the mid-1800s, pralinieres were selling the candy in the French Quarter. Today, New Orleans tourists find it hard to leave the city without boxes of pralines.

Savannah’s Candy Kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Texas history of pralines is no less evocative. According to culinary historian MM Pack, the Texas praline’s ancestry came both from the east (New Orleans) and from the south (Mexico). Both France and Spain brought their sweet tooth to the New World “more or less at the same time,” Pack said. The pecan-candy traditions—pecans because they were plentiful and free—found a welcome home in Texas where industrious Mexican immigrants could make money from candy that was relatively cheap to produce.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack cited the Texas-Mexican history of the border town candyman (men selling sweets from carts and baskets) as a natural link for pecan candy at Tex-Mex restaurants.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Beginning in the early 1900s, pecans became a source of income for Mexican immigrants who gathered, shelled, and dried them. Pecan candy soon became a tradition. Mexican-American know-how for pecan pralines found its way into Tex-Mex restaurants where Mexican candies—dulces—were sold.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Being a thriving port city, people from all over the world came through New Orleans to the rest of the country and the praline spread with them. Nowadays most people are unaware of the candy’s historical origin, and the praline is thought of as a southern confection not necessarily specific to New Orleans. Some believe the pecan praline is a Texan candy, whereas others assume it came from Savannah.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The pronunciation of the candy is a point of contention as well. In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast where there are many communities settled by the French, the pronunciation is prah-leen with the long aaah sound which is closer to that of the candy’s namesake du Plessis-Praslin. Other regions of the country including parts of Texas and Georgia have anglicized the term and pronounce it pray-leen. However you say it, they taste the same. Other terms for pralines include pecan pralines, pecan candy, plarines, and pecan patties.

KatySweet pralines, La Grange, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I make a mean pecan pie and I have a great recipe for pralines—also using pecans. Pralines take a lot of patience, and patience is a must in the duck blind as well as in the kitchen. Good things come to those who wait.

—Phil Robertson