We can’t pinpoint the day that Dot Hubbard sold her first peanuts to the drugstore on Main Street in Franklin, but we know the year was 1954. With one baby at home and twins on the way, she knew she wasn’t going back to Franklin Elementary School to teach. Dot began cooking peanuts in her limited amount of spare time and HJ delivered them to anyone in town who would pay $.10 for a one ounce black striped clear bag of Hub’s Home Cooked Salted Peanuts….a dozen or so cello bags in a little white plastic basket! Soon those bags were all over town… even though HJ was chided about charging twice as much as the widely known, but significantly different, Planters brand that were cooked next door in Suffolk. Many local businesses kept Dot’s little kitchen style deep fat fryer busy.
They were still a one car family when Dot could no longer skin enough peanuts and cook them by herself to meet demand. HJ began to catch rides to his accounting job at the mill each morning, carrying brown bags full of peanuts to deliver along the way. It was then that Dot loaded the girls into the car….always after Captain Kangaroo was on television… and drove around the village of Sedley, picking up tubs of peanuts that friends and neighbors skinned. She would carry them home, cook and then package them, hoping the little ones would nap each afternoon while she worked.
Eight years and a son born in the meantime, Dot and HJ moved, but only a mile away. The family, as well as the business, had expanded to the point that both outgrew the original five room house that had been home. Nights, holidays, and weekends were devoted to managing a business without benefit of computers or fancy equipment.
HJ stayed busy in his spare time with many construction projects, some small, but others quite large. He set out to invent a continuous cooker with help from a few “local engineers”. Night after night they toiled to design “a machine” that would cook more than 60 or 70 lbs an hour so that Dot could keep up with the growing volume of orders. Through sheer perseverance the band of nightly visitors to the Hubbard home succeeded in designing equipment that allowed Dot to cook more peanuts, but maintain the quality that customers were expecting from Hubs.
Through the years, Dot and HJ’s five room home was transformed. Today’s executive offices were once the dining room, living room, and bedrooms; warehouses and kitchens were once play-ground and pasture land.
In 1954, most televisions were black and white, a car could be purchased for less than $2,000.00, and telephones in Sedley were on “party lines”. Most typewriters were manual rather than electric, computers were only a dream and so was man in space. Stamps were $.03, and minimum wage was less than $1.00 per hour.
Success can be defined in many ways, but the little business that Dot and HJ began 50 years ago when they returned to Sedley far surpassed their dream of simply providing well for a family of six. They started a business that set a standard and they did it without a prototype for how it could be done. The learning curve was steep, and they walked before they ran, but Dot and HJ made it….with help and support from many, many people in Franklin and Southampton County. They were survivors and today the little business is celebrating 50 years of life in Sedley. Still owned by the four children, Hubbard Peanut Company is moving into the next 50 years armed with tradition, spirit, and the desire to provide well for its new family of friends, customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, share holders, and the community.
Thanks to all! We count you as part of our blessings.