Stuckey's - Old Fort, NC

The highway oasis - where you can get gas, stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat - and if you're on a long road trip, pick up a few souvenirs for the grandkids or grandparents.  Today, they are a dime a dozen, with one bigger than the rest and each chain expanding as quickly as possible.   A little more or less than a half-century ago, the place to stop was Stuckey's.

The familiar Stuckey's blue-sloping roof.

Stuckey's was a staple of road trips in the South.  Famous for their pecan logs, candy, souvenirs, and clean restrooms, Stuckey's grew to 368 locations.  The well-known blue-sloped roofs were spotted in over 30 states, and their yellow and red logo - found on countless billboards along the highway.

Stuckey's began in 1937 as a pecan stand in the Central Georgia town of Eastman.  Over time, the store grew - adding more items like candy, a restaurant, and gas pumps.  Stuckey's does not only add services but also locations as it spreads throughout Georgia, into Florida, and later the entire South.

After reaching its peak in the early 1970s, ownership of the brand changed hands.  Overlooked and forgotten by their new owners, many stores closed, and those that remained were a shadow of themselves.  In 1987, Billy Stuckey, son of founder WS Stuckey, acquired the company and brand from Illinois Central Industries.  Stuckey would soon begin a store-within-a-store concept, known as Stuckey's Express, that would satisfy the tastebuds of many travelers longing for their famous pecan log or praline cookies.

Stuckey's Old Fort, North Carolina

Currently, 13 original Stuckey locations are operating in the US.  Two of them are here in North Carolina.  One is along Interstate 95, and the other is off Interstate 40 in Old Fort.  

The Old Fort Stuckey's has a dozen Tesla Electric Vehicle charging stations. 

The Old Fort location is a crossroads of the Stuckey's of yesterday and today.  It has the classic blue sloped roof - instantly recognizable the moment you exit the highway.  But it is also home to a dozen Tesla EV chargers.  Shelves are stocked with well-packaged Stuckey's branded candies, pecan logs, and more.  But along the back wall are trinkets and gifts that seem to come from another era.  The Dairy Queen that shares a home is updated - while overlooked Christmas and Halloween decorations are for sale nearby.

Some of the sovenirs found at the Old Fort Stuckey's.  Many of these items seemed dated and in the case of the ceramic North Caroina Kitchen Prayer - most likely have been sitting on the shelves for a long time.

It is quiet and not busy, almost forgotten - but a glimpse of its past glory of a popular highway stop still thrives. A young boy and his grandparents enjoy some ice cream outside - the next stop is home to his parents in Raleigh, but one more lasting memory from his big trip.

Today, Stuckey's is owned by Billy Stuckey's daughter, Stephanie Stuckey.  She purchased the company and took over as CEO in 2019.  Under her leadership, Stuckey's acquired pecan shelling and candy manufacturing plants.  These acquisitions have allowed the company to make its own candy again vs. outsourcing.

Stuckey's branded candy is part of the successful revival of the brand.  Stuckey's now makes and packages their own candy and can be found online and in retailers as varied as your local hardware store or convenience store.

Stephanie Stuckey has also launched several marketing and branding campaigns, including an online store, growing the store-within-a-store concept to over 200 locations, and also expanding the franchise base to 68 stores - including the remaining original 13.  She may also be the company's best brand ambassador.  Stuckey travels cross-country promoting stores and the brand on Facebook and other social media feeds.

A trip to Stuckey's isn't complete without a purchase of their famous Original Pecan Log Roll.

Stuckey's was one of the original 'Travel Centers' - growing in an age when American's fell in love with the road trip.  As our collective taste's changed, Stuckey's struggled and nearly went extinct.  It is now carving out a niche that may see the name - and their pecan logs - last for generations to come.

All photos taken by post author - July 2022 and June 2023.

Sources & Links:

How To Get There:


Popular Posts