Sunday, January 15, 2012

Food Memories - The CDA store

In the heat of July, 1989, I moved to a small town in Gaston County, NC, Dallas. Gastonia is the largest town in the county, which borders Mecklenburg County, and Charlotte. Gaston County was an important part of the textile industry in the early 1900's and there were still a few mills operational when I lived there. In Gastonia there were at one time three large mills operated by the same family that were named after family members, Clara, Dunn and Annie. 

In close proximity to the mills there was a small grocery, a precursor to today's convenience stores. The name of the store was CDA. They sold tins of Vienna Sausages, bottles of soda pop, loaves of bread, bags of potato chips and Little Debbie snack cakes. There was also a flat-top grill, and a sandwich press. You could buy a hot sandwich there from early in the morning until about two in the afternoon. The sandwiches all has the unique character of that part of the state. There were fried  livermush, bologna {all the way was fried bologna with mustard onion and chili}, steak {not Philly-style but cube steak chicken fried then simmered in a brown gravy} and pimiento cheese sandwiches served on hamburger rolls and pressed in the sandwich press to flatten, heat and very lightly toast the product.

I suppose they had hot-dogs. I do not eat those, so I never notice. Hamburgers I am fairly sure were available as well. Truth be told, I only ever ate a lunch hour sandwich from there maybe once or twice, because there fame, the apex of the CDA experience was breakfast, or a mid-morning snack. 

When you walked in there in the morning, the aroma of fried pork products and eggs would greet you at the door. Bacon. Ham. Sausage. Livermush. Bologna. There would be a line to the door, snaking around the shelves and by the coolers that held bottled juices, cans of Sundrop and cartons of milk. You grabbed your drink on the way, called out your order the minute one of the servers caught your eye. The order would be written on a brown paper bag, and made so fast you would have it in your hand in minutes. The fried eggs were tender, the yolk barely firm. The bun was run across a butter roller, slapped on the grill, the egg and toppings were piled on, it was wrapped in waxed paper, pressed to compress and melt the sliced American cheese, and handed to you in short order. 

When I saw the soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld, it reminded me of the CDA. Oh, but it was so good!
Today I made egg, ham sausage and cheese sandwiches a la CDA for us, but they were not the same. I do not even know if the store is still there. I moved from the area in 2001, and a lot can happen in 11 years. But those sure were good sandwiches. 


  1. After writing this, I believe the three mills may have been Clara, Dunn and Armstrong, but I a not positive, so I am leaving as is.

  2. Cda Store, Gastonia

    609 S Oakland St, Gastonia, NC 28054

    (704) 865-4987 susan b.