Not so very long ago, people interested in food visited Discover South Carolina’s website primarily to read up on a recipe for chicken bog.
But since the state launched an instructional video series featuring iconic Southern dishes and South Carolina chefs, its food-and-drink coverage has attracted nearly 2 million views by eaters looking to learn more about boiled peanuts, collard greens and oysters, among other topics. According to Discover South Carolina spokeswoman Kim Jamieson, site traffic over the past year is up 1,200 percent.
“Show(ing) visitors and locals alike how to make and prepare some of South Carolina’s staples is a way to further tell South Carolina’s story,” Jamieson says.
Discover South Carolina recently filmed the 11th video in its series, inviting Sarah Simmons of Columbia’s Rise Bakeshop to Le Creuset L’Atelier to demonstrate biscuit-making. Simmons talked a group of Discover South Carolina staff members through the production process, while her husband and business partner, Aaron Hoskins, circled the room and coached aproned bakers. (Because everything has to look great on camera, there was some talk before filming whether participants should wear matching or contrasting South Carolina aprons).
The secret to biscuits, Simmons revealed, is high-gluten Southern flour.
“It’s even in most gas stations here,” she said, sounding a siren song for pastry fans in other regions. “In New York, it’s almost impossible to get.”
While it’s impossible to know exactly what’s drawing viewers to Discover South Carolina’s short videos, it’s likely their mix of high production values and folksy wisdom have contributed to their success. “Give them a little squeeze, but don’t hurt the baby,” Simmons advised when describing how to combine flour and butter without overworking the dough.
Now that chicken bog has its own video, Jamieson says it’s still leading the popularity pack. But pimento cheese is fast catching up, and staff members who sculpted biscuit dough into the state flag’s palmetto tree and crescent apparently believe the next entry in the series could also perform extremely well.
Discover South Carolina’s culinary videos are at discoversouthcarolina.com/recipes.