Why do we eat black eyed peas for New Year’s?

NEW ORLEANS--  Over time, you've probably heard of the New Year's tradition to cook and eat black eyed peas.  Do you know why the tradition even started in the first place?

News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez went to the New Orleans School of Cooking and talked with chef Anne Leonhard about the black eyed peas tradition.

"In November of 1864 during the Civil War there was a march to sea and everything was destroyed.  All that was left behind was the black eyed peas.  At the time the black eyed peas were considered trash food.  Trash food for livestock to eat.  When the troops left the region, all that was left to eat were black eyed peas, so they began cooking and eating them. This was good luck for the troops, so they wouldn't starve.  They had the black eyed peas to eat.  That became the popular thing to eat," Leonhard said.

By eating them now they are a symbol of prosperity for a new year.

"Black eyed peas are supposed to resemble coins and coins mean prosperity," she said.

So black eyed peas signify coins and Leonhard said that greens represent dollar bills, and corn bread represents gold.  These are all symbols of prosperity.

For more information about the New Orleans School of Cooking, click HERE.