Dippers, crumblers: A soup nation divided

By SCOTT SAALMAN
Guest Columnist

The New York Times recently solicited “leading thinkers” to share their thoughts on “How to Fix America.” Although I’m in no way a “leading” thinker — in fact, my favorite days are those in which I seldom have to think — I couldn’t shake my patriotic duty to at least give some thought to a solution for America’s ailments.

Let me begin by stating that it’s disheartening how divisive our country, the States of America, has become. At what point, when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, did we begin faking a little cough or adding a sardonic “ahem” in place of actually speaking its 25th word, “indivisible"? When did “indivisible” become invisible? If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must set aside our differences and put the “United” back into the United States of America.

To fix America, we must start small, begin with the basics, find commonality.

Soup quickly came to mind.

Everyone likes soup.

But even something as simple as a bowl of hot soup can be polarizing. Soup eaters are divided into two camps: those who dip crackers into their soup (The Dippers); those who crumble crackers into their soup (The Crumblers).

I’m sure someone reading this is probably thinking, “But what about those who refuse crackers altogether when eating soup?”

Ah, yes, The Slurpers! Don’t get me started on The Slurpers. This weird third party of soup enthusiasts represents nothing other than another frayed thread in the fabric of our nation.

Despite the fundamental difference between Dippers and Crumblers, I remained hopeful that soup would be the simple solution to begin fixing America. All that needed to happen was either Dippers become Crumblers, or Crumblers become Dippers. One side must give up their soup ways for the benefit of all.

Despite Dipperism running contrary to my family lineage, I am a Dipper.

My mother is a Crumbler. As a child, I watched while she brutishly crumbled her crackers over a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, creating a soggy, central mound that she then stirred, much like a witch at a caldron, to evenly scatter the cracker’s offal, causing a mushroom cloud to rise to the kitchen ceiling. Then, she lifted a spoonful to her lips and ingested her hellish mush. Her Crumbler way was as unsettling to witness as a seal clubbing. I’m certain all serial killers are Crumblers.

Dippers are the derivative of a civilized ilk. Our refined soup-eating technique makes us the sophisticates of soup eaters. We respect the cracker. We demonstrate a quick, shallow dip, then pull back before sogginess sets in. We take a simple, calculated bite then dip again. It typically takes two or three bites before the cracker is no more. Unlike Crumblers, we don’t need to show off our hand strength or work out anger issues at the dining table. We don’t decimate the cracker. We don’t drown it. We demonstrate a humaneness for the cracker — think free-range chicken. We delicately dip. We delicately bite. We dip. We bite. Think waterboarding, but with heart.

To avoid seeming judgmental, I had never dared discuss with Mom our soup-eating differences, our house divided. It was only during my recent quest to fix America that I questioned her errant ways.

“Why are you a Crumbler?” I asked.

“I don’t always crumble,” she said, defensively.

“Yes, you do,” I said.

“No, I don’t.”

“Was I adopted?”

Silence.

“Will you cross over and become a Dipper?”

Silence.

“Ha! I knew it! Crumbler!” I shouted.

“Well, sometimes instead of crumbling I lift my spoon over a whole cracker and pour soup on it.”

“Preposterous! No one does that, Mom!”

I knew I had to think more broadly than Crumbler-shaming Mom if I wanted to bring Dippers and Crumblers together. I needed to reach the masses with my social experiment, so I took to social media, a great platform for unbiased reporting and an openness to differing opinions.

I knew I had to keep my staunch Dipperism in check so as to not discourage Crumblers from leaving soup’s dark side and becoming Dippers. I posted the following on Facebook: “You Who Crumble Your Crackers Into Your Soup Are So Wrong.”

An angry face emoji appeared. Then came the dissenting comments of thin-skinned Crumblers.

Dave: Them’s fightin’ words.

Judi: I have so many crackers in my soup I can eat it with a fork.

Nick: Crumble away. It’s soup, not dip.

It was Facebook Amy who made me realize just how futile it was to convince a divided nation that soup was the potential elixir for fixing America. She commented, “My crackers my choice.”

Amy returned me to reality. She was right — her cracker, her choice — just as it had been my right way back to personally choose to escape Crumblerism. Her succinct logic caused my starter proposal on How to Fix America to crumble.

At a loss on How to Fix America, I brooded — that is, until the voice of an angel sounded via Spotify, “Working nine to five, what a way to make a living...," and there came to me a eureka moment. The starting point to fixing America was obvious: Dolly Parton. Dippers love Dolly. Crumblers love Dolly. Even Slurpers love Dolly. We all love Dolly. We can build off our commonality as Dollyists and together strive to become one nation indivisible. We will fix America.




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