If your family ever took one of those summer road-trip vacations, you likely encountered Stuckey’s somewhere along your route. An oasis for highway travelers of any sort, Stuckey’s offered a place to rest, gas up, or have a 99-cent breakfast (back in the day, at least). If you had a sweet tooth, they had plenty of their famous pecan rolls on hand; if you needed a quick souvenir, they offered a wall-to-wall assortment of trinkets, from rattlesnake earrings to coffee mugs, Mexican rugs to t-shirts. Stuckey’s was a welcoming sight to many a weary family.
To whom do we owe our thanks? That would be W.S. Stuckey, a traveling pecan salesman from Georgia. In the 30s, both his business and America’s roadway system were flourishing and the entrepreneur sensed opportunity. He opened his first roadside stand in 1936, along a well-traveled route in Eastman, Georgia. He wanted to sell something other than raw pecans, so his wife whipped up a batch of her delicious pecan log rolls. A year later, he had to replace his stand with a full-sized store to help meet the demand. Soon after, a restaurant was added.
The time was right to expand, and Stuckey’s began dotting the landscape, in Georgia and beyond. The sugar shortages of WWII put a damper on business in the 40s, but the company bounced back, and then some, once the war was over. Franchises began popping up all across the country, now paired with Texaco which made them a one-stop shop along the highway. By the time the 60s rolled around, there were over 350 Stuckey’s scattered across the country.
Then, in 1964, Mr. Stuckey decided to sell his company to Pet Milk, Inc., putting an end to the glory days of Stuckey’s. Having lost the personal touch they were known for, business began to decline. Stuckey died in 1977, and when the 80s arrived, there were less than 70 stores left.
Meanwhile, Stuckey’s son (W.S. Stuckey Jr.) made a name for himself as a U.S. Congressman (serving the state of Georgia from 1967-1977). In 1985, he and a group of investors bought back the family business, determined to return it to its previous glory. So far, so good – today, there are over 200 stores in 19 states.
They still carry the signature knick-knacks and doo-dads as they always did. They still carry their signature confection, the pecan log roll, only now it’s available in many different sizes. And they still serve as a welcome oasis to the weary traveler, in need of gas, food, snacks, and perhaps some pottery, jewelry or a nice t-shirt.
Was a stop at Stuckey’s part of your family’s summer road-trip vacations? Do you harbor fond memories of their decadent Pecan Log Rolls? We hope you’ll share your Stuckey’s memories in our comments section, as we celebrate these roadside rest stops of yesteryear.