Why Southerners Will Always Love an Old-Fashioned Roadside Store
Back in the day, when Southerners embarked on family road trips down to the beach or over to visit distant relatives, they’d do so five-deep in a station wagon and without all of the distractions we’ve become accustomed to today—things like podcasts, Spotify playlists, and portable movie players. Instead, they’d look forward to the point midway through the drive that their mama would pull off the highway with the promise of pecan logs, peanut patties, homemade ice cream, fudge, and other eclectic Southern delicacies. All things found at any old-fashioned Southern roadside store. (You also know you’ve been to one if the aisles were stocked with fun oddities like wooden peg games, souvenirs, and cheese straws. And jugs of sweet tea.)
Still seen around the South and known for its world-famous pecan logs, Stuckey’s might be the most well-known of the retro roadside stores, but every state once had their own scatterings of mom-and-pop general stores and farm stands that stocked the best of classic treats and fresh produce to be picked up on any drive across the South, along with a pump of gas. The family road trip just wasn’t the same without stopping at Parker’s in Georgia—get the bucket-sized sweet tea—Weigel’s in Tennessee, or Allsup’s in Texas. Right off the highway, you’d get a piece of homey hospitality and welcome respite from a car full of loud, hangry kids.
Nowadays most have evolved into more modern versions of the retro gas station-come-general store, but longtime favorites like Stuckey’s and newer renditions such as Buc-ee’s still beat on, like a beacon of light for any Southerner on the road with a penchant for pralines.
Safe to say, Southerners will always love coming across a roadside store, even those more grown-up, if only to feel a touch of nostalgia with a side of sweet tea.