Hoppin' John is a dish served in the Southern United States consisting of black-eyed peas (or field peas) and rice, with chopped onion and sliced bacon, seasoned with a bit of salt. Some people substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon; a few use green peppers or vinegar and spices. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.
In the southern United States, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of money. Another traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny," and further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.
The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted's 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1861). However, a recipe for "Hopping John" in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847, is also cited as the earliest reference. An even earlier source is Recollections of a Southern Matron, which mentions "Hopping John" (defined, in a note, as "bacon and rice") as early as 1838.
Hoppin' John was originally an African-American food before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin' John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas. Hoppin' John has been further traced to similar foods in West Africa, in particular the Senegalese dish, thiebou niebe.
One tradition common in the USA is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune and romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year.
The chef Sean Brock claims that traditional Hoppin' John was made with the now-extinct Carolina gold rice, and Sea Island Red Beans. However, there are currently a number of Carolina Gold rice growers who offer the product for sale in limited distribution.
Other bean and rice dishes are seen throughout the American South and the Caribbean, and are often associated with Africans in the Americas. Regional variants include the Guyanese dish "Cook-up rice", which uses black-eyed peas and coconut milk, "Hoppin' Juan," which substitutes Cuban black beans for black-eyed peas, and the Brazilian dish Feijoada, which uses black turtle beans instead of black-eyed peas.
See also 
- Arroz con gandules - the Puerto Rican equivalent
- Gallo Pinto - the equivalent dish of Nicaragua and Costa Rica
- Pabellón criollo - the equivalent in Venezuela
- Platillo Moros y Cristianos - the Cuban equivalent
- Red beans and rice
- Hoppin John What's cooking America.Another name for it is Stew Peas
- "On New Year's Day, it gets the full Southern treatment, which usually means Hoppin' John – a traditional Soul Food fixin' consisting of F peas cooked with ham hocks and spices, served over rice. In the South, eating field-peas on New Year's is thought to bring prosperity" Celebrate New Year's with Field- peas by Rachel Ellner December 31, 2008 Nashua Telegraph
- Chesman, Andrea (1998). 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains. New York: Plume. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-452-27654-3.
- "'Eat poor on New Year's, and eat fat the rest of the year,' echoed the refrain...A shiny dime is often thrown into the Hoppin' John cooking pot, and the person getting the dime in their bowl is due an extra portion of good luck." Field Peas: New Year's good-luck foods by Mick Vann December 26, 2008 Food section Austin Chronicle
- "Collard greens (or kale, chard, mustard, or turnip greens) symbolize money in the South" Beyond Field - Peas: New Year's good-luck foods by Mick Vann December 26, 2008 Food section Austin Chronicle
- "On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" becomes "Skippin' Jenny," and eating it demonstrates powerful frugality, bringing one even better chances of prosperity." Beyond Black-Eyed Peas: New Year's good-luck foods by Mick Vann December 26, 2008 Food section Austin Chronicle
- Olmsted, Frederick Law (1861). A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. New York: Mason Brothers. p. 506. LCCN 19012177. Retrieved 3 January 2013. "The greatest luxury with which they are acquainted is a stew of bacon and peas, with red pepper, which they call 'Hopping John'."
- Sarah, Rutledge (1979) [Reprint of 1847 edition]. "Hopping John". The Carolina Housewife. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. p. 83. ISBN 0872493830. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Twitty, Michael W. (2011). "Hoppin' John". In Katz-Hyman, Martha B.; Rice, Kym S. World of a slave. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. pp. 280–281. ISBN 9780313349447. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Gilman, Caroline Howard (1838). Recollections of a Southern Matron. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 124. LCCN 06044035. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Thornton, Richard H (1912). "Hopping John". An American Glossary 1. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott company. p. 449. LCCN 30025356. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Opie, Frederick Douglass (2008). Hog & Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 9780231517973. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Twitty, Michael W. (2012). "The Transnational Dish of the Motherland: The African Roots of Rice and Beans". In Wilk, Richard; Barbosa, Livia. Rice and Beans: A Unique Dish in a Hundred Places. London: Berg. p. 30. ISBN 9781847889041. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Charlie Rose Interview, Episode 129, Season 20