By Chris Edwards
A while back, one of my colleagues brought back a box of some of the yummiest kolaches I had ever wrapped my lips around. He’d just returned from a sojourn to deep Czech country here in Texas, and the resulting raspberry and apricot baked goodness was a welcome gift.
Now if you are reading this and thinking “raspberry…apricot? Them ain’t kolaches,” then you need a bit of education.
You see, the creations advertised by East Texas doughnut emporiums as “kolaches,” are, in essence, pigs in a blanket, and while those can be quite tasty, they are NOT kolaches.
While kolaches are a Czechoslovakian creation that arrived here in Texas in the 1800s along with thousands of Czech immigrants, the sausage-filled impostor is unique to Texas, and actually called a klobasnek (pronounced CLOW-boss-neck).
From what I have found, the consensus of rumor places the creation’s origin in the town of West (also home to the popular travel stop, the Czech Stop, where legit kolaches, among other baked nifties, can be obtained) in the year 1953 at a joint called The Village Bakery.
The real birthplace of the real deal kolache, from what I’ve found, is in the Moravia region of the Czech Republic.
Sandy Ferrell of Czech Please Microbakery in East Mountain, located between Longview and Gilmer, makes fresh, delicious kolaches five days a week, along with klobasneks. Ferrell said she has made it her mission to teach East Texans what a real kolache is.
“Most East Texas bakeries have mistakenly named their ‘pig in a blanket’ as a kolache,” she said.
Although I am not of Czech heritage, I still cringe at the inaccuracy each and every time I see a sign proclaiming “Donuts and Kolaches” in front of a business, only to discover that there are no kolaches to be found.
I can, however, see how the term klobasnek may not be as marketable as the word kolache, which has miraculously made its way into the household vernacular of basic white East Texas culture, although in an incorrect fashion.
What has happened is an example of semantic change, which is what happens in language with the evolution of words, on occasion; to when the modern, widely accepted meaning of a word is radically different from the original usage.
This presents a problem in this case. With millions of Texans, as well as out-of-state visitors, enjoying tasty, albeit incorrectly labelled, treats, what is there to do in order to preserve heritage and accuracy for the next generation?
I’ve often said that if I were to run for office, my platform would be to make barbecue poor folks’ food again. I’m pretty sure that the statement “Make Brisket $1.87/lb. Again” would look amazing on a red baseball hat, but it’s also possible that a platform of “Pigs in a blanket are not kolaches” would also be a good fit for such a medium.
Maybe, just maybe, a group of Czech Texans should mount a campaign to right this wrong. That would carry much more weight, and maybe in the future, patrons of bakeries and donut shops all over this great state can enjoy both kolaches and klobasneks, both labelled and marketed by their proper names.