What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Road trip nostalgia is good news for this third-generation family business

After more than a year of pandemic lockdown, the tourism industry is preparing for millions of newly vaccinated Americans to catch travel fever. That’s a business opportunity for a third-generation Georgia restaurateur whose family name was once synonymous with the great American road trip. From Georgia Public Broadcasting, Rickey Bevington reports on the revival of Stuckey's.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    After more than a year of pandemic lockdown, the tourism industry is preparing for millions of newly vaccinated Americans to catch travel fever. That's a business opportunity for a third-generation Georgia restaurateur whose family name was once synonymous with the great American road trip.

    From Georgia Public Broadcasting, Rickey Bevington reports on the revival of Stuckey's.

  • TV Ad:

    Take a Stuckey's stop, make a Stuckey's stop, it's the highway stop with style!

  • Rickey Bevington:

    For many postwar American families who piled into station wagons for long cross-country drives to visit grandma or spend a week at the beach, Stuckey's was a fixture of childhood summer vacations.

  • TV Ad:

    Relax, refresh! Back on the highway again.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    The iconic shops dotted highways from Vermont to California.

  • TV Ad:

    Carol decides to stop at one of the famous Stuckey pecan shops for gasoline, a snack, and especially to browse around inside where thousands of unusual gifts are on display.

  • Stephanie Stuckey:

    We were the OG of the road trip.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    The business was founded by Stephanie Stuckey's grandfather in 1937 during the Great Depression. It started as a roadside pecan stand to make extra money.

  • Stephanie Stuckey:

    It was a side hustle. He hated farming cotton in middle Georgia, and he wanted a better life.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    By the 1970s, Stuckey's had grown to nearly 400 locations and become famous for treats like the Stuckey's Pecan Logroll: sweet nugget wrapped in caramel and nuts.

  • Stephanie Stuckey:

    People tell me it reminds them of taking road trips with their families in a woody station wagon going from New York to Florida in the 1970s.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    Now, fewer than two dozen standalone locations remain. Stuckey, who took over the family operation two years ago, and her business partner, are reviving Stuckey's by returning to its culinary roots: pecans. And candy.

  • L.G. Lamar:

    Well, we're in the candy plant for Stuckey's and we're making chocolate-covered southern toffee.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    R.G. Lamar and Stuckey bought this candy plant and pecan processing factory in January, about 35 miles southwest of Augusta.

  • L.G. Lamar:

    So we have the pecan shelling plant next door. We make meal there. And so when we do the chocolate-covered toffee, we dip it in the pecan meal.

  •  Rickey Bevington:

    Pecans are the only nut native to North America. They sold domestically until about 15 years ago when China's exploding middle class developed a taste and income for imported nuts.

  • L.G. Lamar:

    Interestingly, the worst sellers in the United States are the best sellers in Asia, and it's unsalted and sea salt. Actually, the best seller is unsalted. It's just the plain Georgia pecans roasted with nothing on them.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    They're also experimenting with new additions. Today's test flavor? Blueberry. Tastes like breakfast cereal! While pecans drive sales, nostalgia is reviving the all-American Stuckey's road trip. On the company's retro website, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers share memories of childhood stops at Stuckey's. The company is updating franchises, designing quirky swag, selling pecans and candy along back roads and in small towns.

  • Stephanie Stuckey:

    If you like road trips, if you like pecans, if you like adventure, if you like uniquely American things, whether you're American or not, you'll like Stuckey's.

  • Rickey Bevington:

    A business model as timeless today as it was in 1937: Family, sweet treats and the open road.

Listen to this Segment