An Unusual Family (and Amish?) Trait

Tattytiara wrote:

“Given so many Amish (my family and myself included) hate the sound of someone crunching”

Now there’s something I’d never thought of as a cultural trait!

Very astute observation, Tatty! That did have to slip out, didn’t it? I don’t know how widespread the dislike for crunching is among the Amish, but I can tell you it was almost universal on my mother’s side of the family. And try becoming insensitive to it if it bothers you! I don’t think any of us have been “reformed.” I hate myself when I cringe or gripe at David for crunching, because it’s seems so petty. It’s not that he should stop crunching, it’s that I should stop hating it so much… but then I think about how deep the roots and branches of this go, and I have to throw up my hands. 

I often heard my mother tell the story of her grandmother’s reaction to crunching. Her grandmother “Mose Katie” was not very well educated and so she didn’t speak English very well. On this particular Sunday afternoon, they were sitting around eating popcorn. (This is a very Amish custom, to have popcorn on Sunday afternoons and evenings, along with juice and pie or some other baked goods, rather than having a full meal.) They had a gnecht (hired man) to help on the farm, and for some reason he had stayed over the weekend. He apparently was pretty enthusiastic about eating the popcorn. My great-grandmother kept fidgeting in her chair for a long time, not wanting to ask him to stop crunching, and then she suddenly got up out of her rocking chair and said, “Oh, I go to de udder end of da HOUSE!”as she stomped away for emphasis.

Subsequently, my grandfather and my mother hated crunching, and now me. I find as I get older, it gets worse. And I’m not the only one. I have nearly 100 cousins on my mother’s side of the family, plus six siblings. I don’t know any who are not afflicted with this “dis ease.” 

And it didn’t stop at our generation, though now that I think about it, my sons don’t seem to mind it. (Perhaps because they vowed not to be like me.) When I was visiting my Mennonite cousins in Missouri, I met my cousins’ sons. One of them was talking about the subject, and he said that he had a friend who “Could really destroy your peace…” and then he paused and continued…”With an apple.”

When we were talking about the topic of crunching, my cousin Mary said that in her family, whenever they had corn on the cob for dinner, they had a rule that everyone had to start at the same time, so they wouldn’t hear each other crunching. That would have been something to behold — Mary grew up with 14 siblings. She was a twin with her brother, Melvin, and there were three other sets of twins in the family. That must have been quite a crunching fest — one I was glad to have missed, thank you.

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12 thoughts on “An Unusual Family (and Amish?) Trait”

  1. It’s not just the Amish. I hate the sound of crunching too. And not just crunching. If I can hear you eating, period, I’d rather you didn’t sit by me, thanks. *laughs*

  2. Saloma,is it true that there is very little cancer and autism in the amish culture ? I have read this,and it is said that the reason,could be because the amish grow their food organically,and dont believe in vacinations.Just wondering.Blessings jane

  3. I don’t like to hear crunching, either … not so much a natural crunch (like an apple) but the chewing crunch that accompanies eating things like nuts or pretzels. Sometimes I don’t notice it but other times I have to move away to the opposite end of the sofa! (I’m not Plain, either … just good ‘ol Netherlands Dutch, English and Scot)

  4. My husband and I tend to coordinate our crunchy eating because it is a little tough to listen to even though it’s unavoidable with certain foods. Worse to me is chewing with your mouth open. Eeeeeewwww.

  5. How cute! I know that my father-in-law will not tolerate blowing bubbles while chewing gum; snapping gum is out of the question! We all have quirks!!!!

    Debbie S.

  6. Gumbo Soul, do your original family members hate it too? I am really wondering if this runs in other families, too.

    Jane, I’ve never seen a study of the cancer rate among the Amish, but my guess is that it’s quite hight, at least in my home community. In fact, it seems to be what most people on my mother’s side of the family die of — my mother, my sister, my grandmother, several cousins, several uncles, and an aunt to name several. And cancer seems to be very prevalent in my home community at large. Who knows whether that is due to environmental factors or genetics.

    About autism rates among the Amish… I honestly don’t know whether the rates are higher or lower than in mainstream America.

    Peggy and Karen, I have the same question for you as Gumbo Soul — does this run in your families?

    Debbie, that’s interesting, my mother hated snapping gum, too. She even hated the chewing part… it reminded her of a cow chewing her cud.

    Rhonda, don’t we all? For those of us afflicted with this problem, the only acceptable crunching is our own — how self-centered is that?

  7. Saloma, having a son who is on the Autism Spectrum I can tell you that I have ready studies that say the rate of Autism among UN-vaccinated Amish is lower than the rate among the typical rest of the USA. In the groups where they are starting to vax, I understand they do find cases of it. In our case, we do know that our son defintely got worse after each set of vax until we stopped vax’ing him. Our youngest is un-vaxed, and we’ve seen his autistic like traits improve as he has gotten older (soon six). So . . . who knows . . . I know there are claims that the vax/autism connection has been disproven, but in our own family, it looked pretty clear with our oldest. Even Developmental Peds have said that he seems to have issues with vax.

  8. My Catholic family used to have similar Sunday dinners at our house growing up. We would have popcorn with the peaches we had canned, or a simple apple dumpling, or strawberry shortcake.

  9. The part about everyone eating their corn/crunchy food at the same time made me chuckle. I don’t think it bothered me when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older more and more sounds bug me. I’m about ready to kill my husband when he eats – he tends to smack his lips when eating and eating cereal is about the worst!
    As for the comment about autism by another commenter, I think it has more to do with genetics but perhaps vaccinations exacerbate it in some individuals with autism, not actually the cause of it.

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