It wasn't a road trip until Dad pulled the family station wagon into the Stuckey's parking lot. Originally founded in Eastman, Georgia in the early 1930s, Stuckey's convenience stores started out as a roadside stand selling pecans from an overabundance of the family's orchard on US Route 23.
All About Stuckey's
And just like that, the Stuckey family (headed by Williamson Stuckey Sr.) started their business selling pecans to road travelers. Mrs. Ethel Stuckey created pecan treats like the pecan log roll and pecan divinity in her kitchen to sell to weary travelers. It's time same recipe they still use today.
In 1937, the family constructed their first store building, sharing their pecan specialties. The store continually upgraded, and at one point included a restaurant, gas pumps and it's characteristic teal blue roof. The store became an instant hit and more and more stores started opening up along Florida and Georgia. It seemed like the sky was the limit for this roadside stop.
However, that wasn't always the case. During the onset of World War II, Stuckey's started to decline due to sugar rationing. The company wasn't able to produce the number of sweets they were used to, and thus some business was lost.
Thankfully the stores started to pick back up after the war and eventually the family built a candy factory behind their original store to produce Stuckey's candy to distribute across the Southern United States.
At its peak, there were 350 Stuckey's stores in states like Texas and even Pennsylvania. The stores were booming, and with that, the selling of the company to a larger corporation was a wise financial decision in 1967.
Unfortunately, a series of takeovers and poor management by Pet Dairy Corporation and IC Industries, a Chicago-based railroad conglomerate, took all of the family personality out of the stores, and that - plus the decline of the road trip due to the Arab Oil Embargo and cheaper airfares - the stores lost popularity. W.S. Stuckey Sr. passed away in 1977, thankfully before his stores really began to decline. However, in 1985, W.S. "Billy" Stuckey, Jr. was able to bring the business back into the family, along with a group of investors. Billy introduced the Stuckey's Express concept where Stuckey's was co-branded under one roof with other popular roadside retail operations, such as Dairy Queen and Pilot travel plazas.
Billy Stuckey retired in 2014, and Stuckey's was run by a skeleton crew. He and his partners sold Stuckey's to Billy's daughter, Stephanie Stuckey, in November 2019. Since taking over as CEO, Stephanie has added several new locations, expanded the company's merchandising options, added almost 200 retail partners that sell Stuckey's products (such as Ace Hardware stores and Dollywood), and developed a significant e-commerce presence, including Stuckeys.com, Amazon, and Facebook shop.
Today Stuckey's is building itself back up, with over 65 locations along the most popular highways in the country including Missouri, Mississippi, and Georgia. The locations are a mix of the traditional, standalone stores with the classic teal sloped roofs that many of us remember from childhood road trips, plus the Stuckey's Express stores. There are about 20 original stores remaining. Many of the stores retain the classic, eclectic retro feel, offering kitschy souvenirs, hot snacks, and, of course, Stuckey's famous pecan log rolls and branded merchandise.
The next time you find yourself on the highway, keep an eye out for the new and improved Stuckey's serving up your favorite pecan candies.