All About Food
Biggs Supermarket was a second home to me growing up. My grandparents, James and Audelle Biggs, were two of my favorite people to be around. As the store’s owners, spending time with them Monday through Saturday often meant spending time at their grocery store. It was always closed on Sundays, as they spent the day in church and with family, but the days it was open my grandparents provided a constant presence. Their active participation in the store’s day-to-day business was filled with a strong work ethic, compassionate hearts for those in need, and the desire to educate employees on the basics of food protection and presentation.
My grandfather, James Biggs, began his grocery career in 1932 when he established a grocery store with his father in the 1900 block of Park Avenue. The store evolved gradually over the years as it grew and changed locations, and my grandfather became the sole owner in 1936. In November of that year, he married Evelyn Audelle Martin. Their marriage also began their own partnership in the grocery business, an effort that would span more than 50 years. Together, they would eventually find a permanent home for the business at 13th and Clay and reach annual gross sales of more than 8 million dollars before selling in December 1986.
I remember my grandfather quietly working in his back office to prepare the weekly ad for the newspaper, adding a weekly column to that ad in October 1972. James Biggs was blogging before his time! The column premiered October 10, 1972, and was titled, “All About Food.” In the interest of my heart’s desire to keep his words alive and passion for how food impacts our health, I set out to find these articles. With the help of amazing people at the McCracken County Library, I found them! In reading his words from long ago, I learned some fun new facts about food and gained greater insight into my grandfather. I plan to keep his words alive as I repurpose his articles and add my own thoughts. Sometimes I will include a small excerpt from his article and sometimes I will include the full article. In doing so, I hope to encourage all of us to look at food as a gift from God and His earth to fuel our bodies to stay healthy and vibrant, to keep our skin glowing, and to find community and relationships around the table.
With that in mind, I’m happy to introduce the first “blog.” Even in 1972, there was a need for human touch and relationship. We all need community! I pray you enjoy the sweet words of my grandfather, James Biggs:
“Today I’m launching a second career of sorts…publishing a food column to appear each week in this space.
Not that I don’t keep busy enough running a modern supermarket. But it just seems to me that, in this punch card world of ours, the human touch is more important than ever. And I thought this might be a nice way for us to get a little better acquainted. So, whether or not you are a Biggs customer, I hope you’ll feel free to drop in any time and let me know what you think about it. What will it be about? Well, there are thousands of items in any supermarket. And there’s a story behind every one of them. As best I can, I’ll tell you some of those stories. How different foods originated. How they get their names. Some of the curious ways they played a role in history. Things like that. And I’ll get into other areas, too. Packaging. Advertising. Foods of the past. Foods of the future. Anything and everything touching on the subject of what we eat. Everything, that is, except recipes and dietary advice. I’m sure you already got plenty of both from other sources.
I’ll try to offer variety. One week, for example, I might tell you how milk came to America. The next week, I might tell you some things that perhaps you didn’t know about popcorn. (Or did you already know that it was once served for breakfast, with cream and sugar?) And the next week I might cover anything from shoplifting to food in space.
I don’t claim to be any great shakes as a writer, of course. But then, Ernest Hemingway would probably have made a terrible grocer. So I’m just going to relax and enjoy it. And I hope you’ll do the same!”
The Paducah Sun (formerly the Sun Democrat)
October 10, 1972