You might not remember the fifth time you had a Hershey's Kiss or the eighth time you bit into a Twinkie, but there's a 50 percent chance you remember every Old Fashioned Pecan Log you've ever eaten.
That's because there are only two spots in the entire space-time continuum where one purchases and consumes a cylinder of nougat dipped in caramel and rolled in crushed nuts: holidays and truck stops. Determining which of the two it is merely a matter of determining if the smell in your mind's nose (it totally has a nose, and it smells) is family urine or stranger urine.
Much like fruitcake, the nut log is a special treat that barely anyone seems keen on eating unless Christmas carols are playing or the can smell pine. There are people that thrive on both of those things, greeting each holiday season with open mouth, but they are few and far-between and I wouldn't want one teaching my children. I've been waiting to use that line since I had children, but I am annoyingly tolerant.
Once the holidays have passed and the Christmas tree is taken down (around May), the fruitcakes and pecan logs not requisitioned by the Cracker Barrel militia are shipped to special shops in the middle of nowhere. These shops, often known as Stuckey's, are strategically placed in out-of-the-way locations to maximize hungry driver desperation to the point where they don't mind the smell and are willing to put something that looks like a spoiled cheese log into their mouth without the gag reflex kicking in.
The pecan log belongs to the ancient family of snacks that don't give a damn about their looks. They sit on the counter next to pickled pigs' feet and those boiled eggs floating in the red stuff. They may look like bottled bits of bloated corpses, but they taste... hell, I don't know, I'm not eating that crap.
Unlike many of the more popular snacks and most humans, tearing a pecan roll in half makes it more attractive.
Look at that spongy nougat. Don't you just want to take a big bite? I'd bite into a pickled pig's foot stuffed with that much nougat.
The pecans give it a satisfying crunch and the caramel holds it all in. Together these three diverse components create one of the most redundantly delicious snacks you'll ever get sick of after one bite.
See, caramel is melted sugar, more or less. Pecans are nuts. Nougat is sugar, nuts and egg whites. This is sugar and nuts with sugar and nuts and eggs. It's one of the densest snack foods legally obtainable, a mass of sweetness with a vaguely pecan flavor.
It's so overwhelmingly sweet and soft that it tricks your mouth into wanting more. You do not need more—if you were to take one bite and then sit down for five minutes or so you'd find yourself completely satisfied. One additional bite is enough to tip the scales from delightful to disgusting.
The pecan roll is the product of a simpler time, when the kids in their straw hats and overalls would pool their money and share a benign mass of sugar-and-nut tumor. Now America is old enough to buy their own Old Fashioned Pecan Log, but not wise enough to stop chewing before it all goes to shit.
My local grocery store also carries peanut rolls and almond rolls, but what's the point?