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Lack of diners hurts NC politically
Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Tue, 01/08/2008 - 8:52am.
As I've watched the coverage of the campaigning for last week's Iowa caucus and today's New Hampshire primary, I kept hearing the same word over and over again: Diner. As candidates criss-cross those states, they make stop after stop in local diners, dishing up political propoganda with a side of toast. The more I heard about candidates in diners, I started to think it may be a reason why North Carolina is so insignificant in the primary process.
Think about it: if candidates are spending all their time in diners to woo voters, it's no wonder they don't spend much time or money in the Tar Heel State. After all, there are very few diners in these parts. Oh, there are some, including places like Jimbo's, Dixie Grill and Whitey's right here in Wilmington, but I'm not sure they qualify as true diners.
So what qualifies as a true diner? Well, I look to what may be the diner capital of the world: New Jersey. Just about everywhere you go in the Garden State, you can find a diner, and most of them look the same. Most of them have a lighted sign out front showing the name of the restaurant, which typically borrows the name of the town (among my favorites is the Somerset Diner just up the road from New Brunswick, where I've spent a good amount of time) or the name of the road it's on (Route 9 Diner). The buildings are often very distinct, featuring a rounded chrome and glass exterior with neon trim and big windows. Inside there's usually a counter as well as many tables and booths, a revolving cake/pie display case and the best hand-dipped milkshakes served in the big metal mixing cup they were made in so you can pour them into a cone-shaped paper cup in a specially-designed metal holder.
But the key is the schedule and the menu. First of all, a true diner must be open 24 hours a day seven days a week. Sure, you have Waffle House here, but chains don't count as true diners. As for the menu, well, if you've never been to a real diner, you have no idea. The entire menu must be available at all times, and it must include just about anything you can imagine. Seriously. I've been to diners where the menu practically looks like a copy of War and Peace. It is usually very tall, kinda the size of your average Rand McNally Road Atlas. Inside you can find breakfast foods of all types, burgers, chicken, steaks, Italian dishes, Greek food and much more. I'm not kidding when I tell you diners will have everything from egg sandwiches and French fries to souvlaki and Lobster Thermidor.
When you see the melting pot nature of diners, you can start to understand why they are so important to politicians. The wide variety of offerings brings in a wide variety of people, the favorite menu option of candidates. Also, diners in a way represent a slice of the American dream. Many are owned and operated by immigrant families who share their recipes and their hard-working spirit with customers. It all boils down to the perfect backdrop for a campaign stop.
So North Carolina, if you want to be a bigger player in the race for the White House, we must do what's necessary and build and patronize more diners. And if that's not possible, we could at least move our primary up from May.
By: Kevin Wuzzardo