Cornbread and milk is a popular dish in the South, especially so in the 19th century and early 20th century. There usually is no proper name for cornbread and milk, but when the cornbread is crumbled in a glass of milk, it is sometimes called “crumble-in” or “crumblin’” or “crumb-in” or “crumbin.”
“Crumblin’” was popular in Texas in the early 20th century and was a favorite dish of Sam Rayburn, longtime Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from Bonham, Texas. Rayburn’s love of “crumbin” is cited in print from at least 1937.
Garry’s Texas Cookin’
A favorite Texas supper dish is “Crumblin’”, a glass of sweet milk with fresh cornbread crumbled in it sprinkled with black pepper.
This is very difficult to categorize, but somehow it seems most fitting for breakfast. Sometimes called “crumble-in,” this has been a favorite Texas way of eating cornbread for many years.
1 tall glass
Crumble in enough cornbread to fill the glass three-fourths full. Add enough buttermilk to top off the glass. Eat the mixture with a spoon.
Wikipedia: Sam Rayburn
Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn (January 6, 1882 – November 16, 1961) was a Democratic politician from Bonham, Texas. “Mr. Sam”, as he was widely known, served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for 17 years, and is regarded by some historians as the most effective Speaker in history.
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
crumble in n Also crumbled in
1. See quot.
1958 Publication of the American Dialect Society 29.9 TN, Crumbled in: Biscuits in sweetened coffee.
2. also crumb up: See quots.
1958 Publication of the American Dialect Society 29.9 TN, Crumb up: Corn bread crumbled in sweet milk.
1981 Howell Surv. Folklife 100 cTN, “Crumble in” (corn bread crumbled into sweet milk and eaten like cereal) is still a favorite light supper of several informants.
15 January 1911, Idaho Daily Statesman (Boise, ID), magazine section, pg. 3:
A supper of corn bread and milk, not skims, but fresh from the cow, awaited me.
28 May 1920, Idaho Sunday Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 4:
Corn Bread and Milk.
We eat corn bread and milk for supper every alternate day and are very fond of it, but we have been told it is unhealthful to eat it so often. Would like to know the facts. (Iowa.)
Answer: Corn is a thoroughly nourishing and healthful food, and I know no reason why you should not eat it every other day, and milk can scarcely be taken too freely for health. Corn is full of fuel energy and may produce more body warmth than you want in very warm weather.
9 January 1937, Indiana (PA) Evening Gazette, “The Washington Merry-Go-Round” by Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen, pg. 4, col. 5:
Sam’s (Sam Rayburn, Congressional representative from Texas—ed.) favorite dish is what he calls “crumbin,” made of cool sweet milk and corn bread crumbled in—from which it gets its name. His mother used to tell a story of how he once called her up from a nearby city to tell her of his arrival home from Washington. She asked him what he would like her to prepare for him.
“Crumbin, mother,” he said. “I’ve been longing for a big bowl of that for months.”
Sam’s two other favorite foods are turkey and chili con carne. When he is home, Miss Lou serves turkey every Sunday dinner.
28 August 1941, Paris (TX) News, “Pull Up A Chair” by Neal O’Hara, pg. 4, col. 2:
Peculiar are the eating tastes of Sam Rayburn of the national House of Representatives. For a side dish he likes raw onion sliced in ice water. And to stimulate his appetite, he orders what he calls a “crumb-in,” consisting of corn bread crumbled in a glass of milk.
10 December 1942, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “Capital Comment” by George Stimpson, pg. 4?, col. 3:
Sam Rayburn fond of cornbread and milk, never touch stuff myself.
22 September 1946, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX), pg. 4, col. 3:
WEAKNESS FOR CORNBREAD
Jim Tabor, who is helping set up the program for Valley Boys Ranch, is one of those folks who go all the way out in their fondness for cornbread and milk. Three of four chunks crumbled in a glass of milk is an excellent substitute for dessert, in Tabor’s opinion.
30 July 1947, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 2, pg. 2:
Then they fell to and never did cold sweet milk and corn bread taste better—the good, old supper of the country.
29 June 1952, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, pg. 22, col. 7:
Do you pour milk over your crumbled cornbread, or do you crumble your cornbread into the glass of milk?
22 November 1953, Ada (OK) Evening News, “Haven’t Eaten Cornbread? Then You Haven’t Lived” by Cal Tinney, pg. 4, cols. 6-7:
I’m a cornbread eater from way back, way back in the woods, that is. Cornbread crumbled up into a glass of milk was as close to heaven as we got. After a meal of cornbread and milk cattlemen loved sheepherders, Democrats loved Republicans and athiests could see good in missionaries.
Even if you’ve never tasted cornbread, friend, just take a big hunk of it, crumble it up in a glass of cold sweet milk and eat it with a spoon, and if you don’t praise the day the Indians taught the Pilgrims to grow corn my name’s Ezra T. Benson and Europe loves us.
7 March 1960, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, “Go To It, Gene,” pg. 6B, col. 1:
Brother Galbreath’s problem is nothing trivial. The man loves to crumble cornbread in milk and eat it with a spoon. But this exercise in personal taste has its complications. Members of his luncheon club look askance at him as if they question not only his taste but his manners, and he says his wife “pulled the book on him” - meaning the etiquet book.
As an old cornbread-and-milk fan ourself, we are happy to rush to Mr. Galbreath’s support. Eating cornbread in sweet milk with a spoon is a highly nourishing and edifying thing. It isn’t essential to lift a pinky in such an operation, but simply to lay back your ears and shovel.
As a boy Ike Eisenhower worked around a creamery, and we’ll lay you a Democratic poll-tax receipt to one slightly used Republican campaign button (vintage 1896) that he is acquainted with the joys of cornbread in sweet milk, and sneaks a snack of this delectable concoction anytime Mamie isn’t looking.
In our boyhood cornbread and milk was a staple of diet, like collard-greens and sidemeat. At our house we kept four kinds of milk—sweet, buttermilk, whey and clabber. (We were a man-grown before we knew clabber was supposed to be called curds, and if any of our more Irish kinfolks were present we’d call it bonnyclabber.) Nothing was wasted. Milk and cornbread was a treat, a something to be looked forward to in the cool of the evening.
by J. Frank Dobie and Mody Coggin Boatright
Crumble-in, cornbread crumbled into a glass of sweet milk, was a favorite with the children, as was sweetened clabber.
Kentucky Bluegrass Country
by R. Gerald Alvey
University Press of Mississippi
All of these cornbreads, and many more, are important components of traditional Bluegrass meals, particularly dinner (the noon meal) and supper (the evening meal), as well as of a delicious bedtime snack called crumble-in—cornbread combined with milk or buttermilk in a glass, eaten with a spoon.
Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
Subject: Re: rice and milk
>I think this is a mid-western thang.
>My mother, from Oklahoma, would crumble day old cornbread into a glass of
>buttermilk. YUCK. Only thing buttermilk is good for is cooking
Cornbread crumbled into buttermilk is known as “Crumblin’” in Texas. I think this is a southern thing more than a midwestern thing. I have friends for Georgia who also use up their day old cornbread this way.
The Pepper’s Cookbook: 200 Recipes from the Pepper Lady’s Kitchen
by Jean Andrews
University of North Texas Press
EASY JALAPENO CORNBREAD
This should never be a sweet cornbread. It is great topped with stewed tomatoes and lots of butter - real country style. Another favorite is cold, left-over cornbread crumbled into a glass of sweet milk and eaten with a spoon - called “crumble-in” or “crumblin.”
Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
Date: 22 Jul 2006 12:48:26 -0700
Local: Sat, Jul 22 2006 3:48 pm
Subject: Re: What is “crumble-in”? (Appalachian dish)
The crumblin “recipes” (actually more like commentary) describe it as day old cornbread crumbled up into buttermilk - These comments were all found in Texas and Georgia cookbooks.
Regional “food quirks” - Chowhound
When i was a kid in the south and youu could still get real buttermilk a great treat would be a tall glass of cold buttermilk with crumbled cornbread from the previous nights supper crumbled in. Eaten with an iced teaspoon of course. It is not lost to me, that cultured stuff is nothing like what real buttermilk was.
Candy May 17, 2007 09:41AM
Candy, that was my Texas parents/grandparents favorite light supper after a heavy dinner. Some of them liked the cornbread crumbled in sweet milk, others in buttermilk.
(Sunday nights most often since our biggest meal of the week was “Sunday Dinner”, i.e. Sunday after-church lunch. In Texas and Oklahoma at least, the big meal of the day was always called dinner and--esp. in farm country --was the noon meal. The evening meal was always called supper, whether heavy or light. The only time the word “lunch” was ever used was at school or for summertime noon sandwiches.)
PhoebeB May 17, 2007 04:25PM
When I was a kid (Austin TX area, not too long ago) “cornbread and milk,” preferably fresh, hot cornbread w/ honey on top, was a big treat for breakfast.
Common traits food quirks I’ve noticed among Texans:
They put Rotel tomatoes in everything.
When out of the state, they will always complain about the lack of Blue Bell ice cream.
“Coke” refers to any soft drink.
Breakfast tacos (usually in a flour tortilla, eggs + any of the following: chorizo, cheese, potato, bacon, refried beans, breakfast sausage) are ubiquitous.
Picante sauce or salsa on your eggs, none of this catsup nonsense.
I’ve only seen this in Austin: queso w/ black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo in it, yuuuum! popular post- drinking snack. Where else do ya’ll have this?
ryocat Jun 08, 2007 01:30AM
Buttermilk Specialties? - Home Cooking - Chowhound
Get a glass, crumble up enough cornbread to fill to the top. Sprinkle with salt. Pour buttermilk over and eat with a spoon. Crumblin’ In...a true southern delicacy as there rarely any leftover cornbread.
SweetPhyl Jun 02, 2007 09:57AM
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Monday, May 12, 2008 • Permalink
Grew up eating cornbread and sweet milk.
Nothing taste better.