According to classic TV star Ron Howard, Aunt Bee’s home-cooked meals were just as delicious in real life as they appeared on The Andy Griffith Show.
As the Oscar-winning director wrote in his 2021 book, The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, the smell of the southern fried chicken was often more than he could handle. And trying to act through the aroma-induced hunger was almost unbearable.
“It was and remains the best fried chicken I have ever eaten,” he penned. “On the days when the script called for Aunt Bee to serve a fried-chicken dinner, a bewitching smell wafted onto the set from the prop room and I could barely focus on my lines.”
However, Aunt Bee’s Frances Bavier had no part in crafting the chicken or any of the other meals for that matter. Instead, it was the Andy Griffith prop man, Reggie, who “cooked it to order.”
The Food Wasn’t Always Great on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
But on the flip side, the food on The Andy Griffith Show wasn’t always quite as tantalizing as crispy fried chicken. And Ron Howard learned that the hard way while filming The Pickle Story.
As the name suggests, the episode surrounded pickles. In it, Mayberry’s top chef Aunt Bee decides to can countless jars of the food as gifts for her friends. But all the while, she admits that pickling isn’t her strong suit.
Of course, the good townsfolk are too polite to hurt Aunt Bee’s feelings when they realize that their presents taste horrible. So they smile and praise her as they choke them down. But the kindness ends up leading Aunt Bee to embarrassingly enter a jar into a contest.
During filming, the actors really ate the ill-tasting pickles. Though, in reality, they were a perfectly normal store-bought variety. However, the then 6-year-old Ron Howard thought that all pickles tasted atrocious.
During an interview with the Archive of American Television, the actor admitted that the episode literally left a bad taste in his mouth for years to come.
“I hated pickles so much,” he admitted. “Biting those pickles was just an unbelievable burden. It was a chore, painful.”
During his time with the show, Howard had to eat all sorts of things. And like pickles, some other meals were also disgusting. He also recalled episodes where his character Opie got to eat ice cream. But because the weather was too hot for such a treat, the prop director would put a scoop of “cold, colored mashed potatoes” on a cone instead.
“You know licking that, that takes acting,” he admitted.
But out of everything he dined on in Mayberry, the pickles took the cake. Never in the history of The Andy Griffith Show did Ron Howard have to endure such an unenjoyable food again.
“What I remember of the pickle episode is just all the wincing and frowning,” he said. “The acting came in trying to act like I enjoyed the pickles.”