What made us the “nicest white people ever”

One of our favorite people at a local nursing home is Ms. Mary. You can hear Ms. Mary talking three halls down because she has one of those voices that carries and resonates throughout the entire facility. And funny, oh, she is funny! Well, we went to visit her this week and we brought a little pink flower and some cards the kids made for her. She was so appreciative and sweet about the whole thing. She was kidding with Sophie about the rainbow she drew at the bottom of the page and asked why she put it in the depths of the ocean instead of the sky where God puts them. We laughed and hugged her and asked her if there was anything she needed or wanted. She declined answering at first but her neighbor across the hall piped up and said, “Tell em’ Mary. Tell em’ what you said you wanted earlier today.” Ms. Mary wouldn’t say though. Finally I asked her neighbor if she would tell us and she said, “Ms. Mary would like some ‘nabs’.”


I’ve never heard of nabs. So I asked her what nabs were. She looked at me like I had four heads and then asked if I ever went to the grocery store. “Like four times a week but I’ve never seen nabs before.”, I said.  She just shook her head. Her neighbor couldn’t believe we didn’t know what they were either. Finally one of the CNA’s said they were peanut butter crackers.

We assured Ms. Mary we’d go find some nabs and bring them back to her. I went to the grocery store and stared at all the peanut butter crackers before me……tons of different kinds. None of which said, “nabs” on them. So I decided to ask a worker if she could help me find some nabs. I told her the story and she looked at me and grinned and said, “Yeah, she’s probably wanting an ice cold coke cola and a pack of nabs.” She pointed out several different kinds of crackers and said, “Those are all nabs.” I said, “But how do you know they’re nabs there is nothing on them that says ‘nabs’.”  She just laughed and said, “It’s just what we call them.” I grabbed two different packs to be sure I got the right kind of nabs since there were multiple kinds all falling under the “nab” category.

The next day Mitchell and I packed up the nabs and a cold coke in two bags. One for Ms. Mary and one for her neighbor. We took Ms. Mary her bag and as soon as she peeked in the bag she hollered out, “Ohhhhh, no you didn’t! Ya’ll  are the nicest white people I ever did know!”  I thought that was hilarious and cracked up out loud. Mitchell wasn’t sure what to think about it all. He was classic Mitchell with hands in pockets and eyes wide open.

She quickly grabbed a pink plastic Hubba Bubba container popped it open and spit out her gum that she had been gnawing with absolutely no teeth whatsoever. It made me pause wondering how in the world she would be able to eat hard crackers. But it would prove to be no problem at all.

While she’s working on her first nab she notices the second bag we are holding. It looks just like hers in every way. But she wanted to see what was in it. I handed it to her and she said, “Who that for?” We told her it was for her neighbor. She pulled the bag closer to her and looked inside and said, “Aw, she don’t need that. She don’t need that at all.” I laughed because I thought she was kidding.

But Ms. Mary was dead serious. She didn’t want her neighbor to have it. In fact the day we delivered the flower and cards I was appalled that she held up her flower and cards to this same neighbor and yelled across the hall, “Hey! Looky at what I got!” And it was in that sing song nana-nana-boo-boo voice. I felt so bad for this lady and decided that whatever we did for Ms. Mary we would start doing for this other lady too.

I took the bag back and pulled out one pack of nabs and handed them to her and said, “How ’bout that. You can have that extra pack and we’ll give the rest to your neighbor even though she doesn’t ‘need’ them.” At first I thought she meant like she was a diabetic or couldn’t have the salt. But that wasn’t the case. I had to laugh and joke with her about it. She finally agreed to let us give the bag of goodies to her neighbor.

We said goodbye to Ms. Mary and went to see her neighbor. Ms. Mary’s door was open and her eyes followed us in and out of her neighbor’s room. It was funny. She didn’t really want to share her nabs or her friends! Ha!

And that’s the story of how we learned what nabs were. I still am curious where the name came from and if this is a North Carolina thing or what. I grew up with my Grandparents and Parents eating peanut butter crackers with a ice cold coke waving to cars while rocking on the front porch but never have I heard the term “nabs” before.

I wonder if we’re the only family in the South that didn’t know this?


  1. And we are the second family in the South who have never heard of Nabs!

    Love you, girl.

    • Really? Awesome. But if you start asking around you’ll probably see that everyone around you knows what they are. To provide proof that the old ladies at the nursing home were just crazy I started asking around if people knew what “nabs” were and they all knew! I was the crazy one. Ha!

      • I learned what they were when Jeff and I were first married (of course, I was not a southerner). Someone told me they thought Nabisco made crackers like that and that’s how they got the name.

        • That’s what a friend of mine said last night – she grew up hearing the term as well and thought it had to do with Nabisco. But it totally breaks down when Lance makes them and they’re still called “nabs”. Ha! Oh well. It only took us three years to figure this term out.