Stuckey’s then and now

Pecan Log Rolls & NRA propaganda

Once you bite into a Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll, you never forget it — for better or worse.

There I was, immersed in the nostalgic glow of Tim Hollis‘ excellent article about ye olde Stuckey’s chain in RetroFan #10. A mere month later, by a quirk of fate, I found myself barreling down Interstate 95, hoping against hope that I’d spot one of the few bona fide Stuckey’s “shoppes” still in existence.

During my recent trek from New Jersey to Florida, I saw what I called a “fake” Stuckey’s — actually, one of many satellite locations sometimes called a “store within a store.” It was a convenience store at a gas station that had a Stuckey’s sign. Within the store was a healthy assortment of Stuckey’s products, including the all-important Pecan Log Roll. But to me, this was just a glorified gas-station convenience store. I wanted to find the “real thing.”

At another point during the trek — I think it was in Virginia — I saw a Subways that was obviously inside of a retro-fitted old Stuckey’s building. Even at 70 MPH, there’s no mistaking that only-in-the-Atom-Age, six-pointed roof.

Well, the tourism gods smiled upon me. There it was, in Summerton, South Carolina. A Stuckey’s. A real Stuckey’s. That roof don’t lie!

Walking in — more like floating in — I felt like I was 8 years old. That’s the age I was the last time I visited a Stuckey’s. This occurred way back in 1966, when my dad drove us from South Jersey to Miami Beach for a family vacation.

Here’s some of the Stuckey’s candies at the Summerton shoppe. In the back, you can see a coupla gals working the Dairy Queen window. (“Um, can I get a Peppermint-Hot Cocoa Blizzard with a Pecan Log Roll for a swizzle stick?”)

And there they are: Stuckey ‘s iconic Pecan Log Rolls. I bought two, one each for my sister and brother (as “bonus” Christmas presents). And since then, I’ve only consumed one of the rolls, which for me is exemplary behavior. For the record, they’re softer and sugarier than I remember.

Here’s a heartwarming little tableau — a toy Texaco truck and oil well (representing the Texaco gas station just outside the store) atop a collection of Stuckey’s signature sauces, including Moonshine BBQ Sauce, Beer Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce, Mango Garlic Hot Sauce, and the most promising (or ominous?) of all, Chunky Five Pepper Super Hot Sauce.

I really felt at home. But an unsettling surprise awaited as I walked out of the store.

Walking in, I was in such an excited state of nostalgia that I failed to notice the novelty tin signs for sale behind glass at the entrance. On the way out, I finally noticed them. To my surprise, most of them were, quote-unquote, “humorous” signs about gun ownership — practically NRA propaganda. I’d seen these sort of signs before, but in a more understandable context (a flea market, a gun shop). Never at an ostensibly family-friendly place.

(Update: Since publishing this post, I interviewed Stuckey’s CEO Stephanie Stuckey, who clarified the circumstances behind the sale of these signs. Read the interview HERE.)

For legibility, above are zoom-in crops of some of the signs. (Admittedly, the “No Soliciting” sign at bottom right is pretty funny, and without the veiled threats found in the other signs.)

I’m just surprised, that’s all. The signs are so political, and this is such a crazy, divided time. I was having that 1966 “kid” moment, but 2020 reality insinuated itself. Oh, well …

P.S.: Tim Hollis also wrote a book about the chain, simply titled “Stuckey’s” (2017, Arcadia Publishing). Find out about it HERE.