While some people focus on the 4th of July parades or fireworks, the one event that seems to be included in all cultural and family traditions is food. What would the 4th of July be without the picnic?
“It’s just fun to be outside with your friends and family,” said Dustin Christensen, a microbiology major from San Antonio, Texas. Christensen said that although his family is older now and does not have picnics as often as they used to, he has great memories of 4th of July picnics when he was younger.
Local grocery stores prepare for the onslaught of picnic-related purchases by stocking up on traditional favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs, pickles and potato salad.
According to Jennifer Howard, manager of Provo’s Albertson’s, the summer months are “pretty consistent” when it comes to selling picnic foods, but there is a noticeable difference around the holiday weekend.
“We notice a huge increase (in picnic food sales) around the 4th of July,” she said, adding that the most popular purchases are chips, pop and prepared foods from the service deli.
Similar foods are popular at Smith’s in Provo, says deli worker Donna Rothe. According to Rothe, the “Chicken Meal Deal” and potato salad are big hits for holiday picnics.
If the weather permits, picnickers can be found anywhere from rocky canyons to grassy parks. Matt Coons, a freshman from Taso Rodles, Calif., traditionally spends the 4th of July with his family on the beach near his home. Coons said thousands of people go to the beach on the 4th of July to barbecue food and watch the fireworks.
While a beach picnic may not be feasible in Utah County, there are plenty of community food-related events, including the American Freedom Festival’s “Picnic in the Park.” The two-day picnic, held on July 5 and 6, will focus on the cultural diversity in America.
The picnic begins at noon on both days, featuring a variety of food and entertainment. Local Dixieland performing groups will provide traditional 4th of July music, while a steel drum band offers a calypso music alternative. Anyone looking for an unusual picnic food will find “shark on a stick” in addition to the usual popcorn, cotton candy and ice cream.
No picnic would be complete without a great potato salad. The Daily Universe offers its favorite recipe:
10-12 slices bacon
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 cups cooked/diced potatoes*
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Cook in skillet on medium-low heat until crisp. Drain bacon, reserving 2 tbsp. drippings in skillet. Remove skillet from heat. Add mayonnaise, mustard, sugar and salt; mix well. Combine potatoes, eggs, celery, onion and green pepper in bowl. Add dressing and toss. Stir in bacon. Cover. Chill several hours before serving.
* Potatoes can be substituted with 1 bag of frozen southern-style mashed potatoes. Put in bowl, microwave until cooked and cool in refrigerator