Teal Roofs and Pecan Logs

A History of Stuckey’s Pecan Shoppes

By Lisa Raflo and Jeffrey Durbin

Rubber snakes, pecan logs, and teal roofs are the images many associate with the Stuckey’s logo. However, far from being the subject of a stand-up comic’s monologue about a dull family vacation, Stuckey’s is especially significant for its role as the forerunner of the modern-day convenience store.

From its Depression-era beginnings, when founder Williamson Sylvester Stuckey, Sr., opened a roadside stand selling pecans, the company rose to become a familiar highway icon and entered markets that other retailers had not yet ventured. At its zenith in the early 1970s, Stuckey’s had dabbled in every type of roadside business: gas station, souvenir store, restaurant, and motel.

With just $35 and no knowledge of the trade, Bill Stuckey started a career as a pecan dealer in the early 1930s. In 1934, he diversified his business by opening a lean-to stand near his home in Eastman, GA, to sell pecans. Stuckey’s wife Ethel, whose family-owned pecan groves, ran the stand and began experimenting with an old family recipe of white molasses, powdered sugar, and roasted pecans, and selling these pecan logs to travelers along busy U.S. 23. With a steady stream of northern tourists heading past their business for Florida, the Stuckeys constructed a more substantial store building in 1937 to replace the original lean-to. 1

Beauty queens display Stuckey’s candies in front of the Folkston, GA, Pecan Shoppe

A group of beauty queens display Stuckey’s candies in front of the Folkston, GA, Pecan Shoppe. Such promotional schemes helped make the stores a popular destination. Photo courtesy Stuckey’s Corp.

By 1941, Bill and Ethel had opened two other Georgia stores-on U.S. 41 north of Unadilla, and another on U.S. 23 in Folkston -and one in Florida. America’s entry into World War II later that year, and strict government rationing, forced the closure of all but the original Eastman store. The Stuckeys kept their business afloat by selling pecans and candies to feed hungry servicemen through a government contract. 2 Bill and Ethel’s good fortune accelerated after the war, and according to a company history, “by 1948 a candy factory was in operation behind the Eastman store, and by 1953 there were twenty-nine stores in operation.” 3

The Stuckeys’ prosperity may have been due to a good sense of timing and family fortune. At the time of their company’s origins and initial period of growth, pecans were fast becoming one of Georgia’s principal farm products. Agricultural statistics show that the state’s output of pecans nearly doubled from 23 to 40 million pounds between 1940 and 1948. The pecan groves on Ethel’s family farm of 8,000 acres contributed to the state’s growth in pecan production and allowed the Stuckey’s ready access to a supply of inexpensive pecans. 4

An early Stuckey's in Panama City, Florida

This Panama City, FL, store continued the “house with a canopy” form of earlier Stuckey’s stores. Photo courtesy Stuckey’s Corp.

About the Authors: SCA member Lisa Raflo is currently in the landscape architecture program at the University of Washington. She formerly served as National Register Coordinator with the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office. Jeffrey Durbin works for the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office as its Environmental Review Coordinator and is SCA vice president-elect. The authors wish to thank both Chip Rosencrans and Wayne Goodwyn of the Stuckey’s Corp. for the valuable historical information they provided about the company and for permission to use photographs from the Stuckey’s archives.

There’s more! To read the rest of this article, members are invited to log in. Not a member? We invite you to join. This article originally appeared in the SCA Journal, Fall 1995, Vol. 13, No. 3. The SCA Journal is a semi-annual publication and a member benefit of the Society for Commercial Archeology.

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Current information on Stuckey’s Corp. can be found at https://stuckeys.com.

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