Holiday eating always includes sugary sweets everything from homemade fudge to pecan pies and coconut cake.

No wonder people can gain five to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years Day!

But if you had lived in the days of the pioneer, that wasnt an option. Why?

Sugar was unheard of on the frontier!

So what did people do to satisfy their proverbial sweet tooth?

SubmittedThis 1939 photo was made in the Great Smokies, and shows Uncle Dave Myers of Cades Cove beside beehives made from sections of hollow trees. Honey has long been used as a sweetener by the people of Tennessee.

Lets start with the Native Americans who lived and hunted in what is now Middle Tennessee. The Cherokee, Shawnee and Creek Indians used wild foods that were naturally sweet, and there were very few of them.

Further north, the indigenous people harvested maple syrup, but that didnt help the local down here in the South. Wild berries, nuts and a few fruits had to suffice on the banks of the Cumberland River.

Pawpaw trees and persimmon trees had fruit that could be harvested, but there was nothing that approached the sweetness and taste of sugar except for wild honey.

But honey was a relatively new addition to the diet of the local natives.

Although there are over 20,000 species of bees, only a few produce honey and none of them were found in North America. That is, until the white man arrived! By the 1650s, honeybee hives could be found on the farms of the colonists in New England, brought there to pollinate the many varieties of fruit trees that were also new to the Western Hemisphere. Apples, pears, peaches and more were introduced by the newcomers.

But it was honey that made a lasting impression on the Indians.

As bees escaped from the colonists hives and made their own bee colonies in the woods, the Indians discovered the stinging flies and their hidden pots of liquid, sweet golden honey.

Soon honey was a part of the Native American diet.

Image courtesy of hartsvillevidette.com

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