San Benito Lifestyle

Hoppin John: A New Year dish for good luck and prosperity

For the last 10 years Heidi Jumper has been cooking Hoppin John on New Years Day for her family

Ten years ago Heidi Jumper was talking to her friend Kellen Myer about different ways that people celebrated the New Year. Learning that her friend made Hoppin John every New Year’s Day to bring good luck to her family, Jumper decided to bring this Southern tradition to her own family. “I like sharing celebrations with them (her children) in recognition of yearly events and seasons. We say that eating Hoppin John will bring us peace and luck in the New Year,” Jumper said.

Hoppin John is a recipe and dish that originated in the South. This dish is said to have been started in the mid-1800s and traditionally includes black-eyed peas, rice, and pork as the staple ingredients. As found on, "Hoppin’ John was, and still is, often eaten with collard greens, which can resemble paper money, and “golden” cornbread. The peas themselves represent coins. Some families boost the potential of their Hoppin’ John by placing a penny underneath the dishes—or adding extra pork, which is thought to bring more luck".

Though Jumper makes this recipe to bring luck to her family, one family member does not feel so lucky when this day rolls around, “my husband hates it. He’s totally not a fan of beans and vegetables. Everyone eats it regardless, they know that’s all they get on New Year”, Jumper admitted. Her husband is the only one who is not a fan of this dish. Jumper said her eldest son could, “eat it for five days”. When asked what makes this tradition so popular with most of her family Jumper said, “This recipe is special because eating it is supposed to bring you luck and peace in the New Year. Even though I’m not superstitious, nothing bad can come from hoping for those two things!"

Jumper uses the recipe she found on for her family. The recipe instructions can be found below and feeds six people.



  • ½ pound of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup chopped green or sweet red pepper
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas, drained


In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings. Saute pepper, celery and onions until almost tender. Add rice, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add peas and bacon; cook 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve and enjoy.

If interested in sharing your own family recipe, story and/or photos related to the holidays email your ideas to BenitoLink at [email protected] 

Becky Bonner

Becky Bonner is a local teacher at San Benito High School who is passionate about sharing things to do in San Benito County.