The term "Arabbers," likely derived from a nineteenth-century English term, has been associated for more than a hundred years with horse-cart food vendors in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The distinctive musical calls they use to advertise their wares are now sung only in Baltimore by a handful of people, all African American. Every year since 1972, Baltimore’s Arabbers have participated in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year, the Diggs family continues this tradition.
Hear an audio piece featuring Tyrone Diggs-Bay singing his songs and sharing stories about his longtime job as an Arabber: "Call of the Arabber Fruit Vendors"
Arabbers at the 2006 Folklife Festival. Photo by David Abbott, Smithsonian Institution
Arabbers at the 2006 Folklife Festival. Photo by Leah Golubchick, Smithsonian Institution