The Seed is PlantedDot and HJ met during their college years in Farmville, VA. Before he could graduate, World War II erupted and he joined the U.S. Army. Soon after the couple married he was called back into service during the Korean War. In 1950, after completing business school while she taught in high school, the young couple returned to her hometown, the little crossroads village of Sedley, to begin their family. She continued to teach school while he became immersed in his first job as an accountant at the local paper mill. The Great Depression had left its heavy prints on their growing up years and may have been a catalyst for the creation of a family business that the two worked together for decades to build.
We can't pinpoint the day that HJ Hubbard first sold and delivered Dot's unique peanuts to the Virginian Drugstore on Main Street in Franklin, but we know the year was 1954 and the price of a 1 oz bag of Hubs was $0.10.
The Idea Sprouts
With one baby at home and twins on the way, Dot knew she wasn't going back to teach that year. Wanting a little extra spending money to help with family expenses, Dot remembered how popular her family's recipe for peanuts had been with her college friends during the war years. At that time, Southampton County, Virginia was the largest county in the USA growing the type of peanuts Dot wanted to prepare. She knew that most people had never experienced the taste of really good Virginia peanuts, so armed with the time honored recipe and a supply of peanuts grown on her father's farm, she had everything needed to get started with a new adventure. Dot perfected the unique recipe and pioneered a technique for cooking Virginia peanuts that has become an industry standard today.
Roots Begin to Establish
In 1954, when Dot decided to start a business, there weren't many mail order companies and even fewer who were shipping gifts of great food. There was no system for zip codes in the United States. UPS wasn't operating in Virginia and FedEx had not yet been founded. At the time, there was no such thing as a credit card and the phones in Sedley were on 'party lines.'
Gourmet peanuts were literally launched from Dots' home in Sedley where she hand skinned the first peanuts branded as Hubs. Whether they're called cocktail, blister fried, small batch, or home cooked, the peanuts that were first blanched in water, then cooked and packaged in Dot's family kitchen in Sedley were the original 'home cooked' Virginia peanuts first introduced commercially in the market place.
As her business grew, Dot and her husband, HJ, worked with shellers in Suffolk and blanchers in Edenton, NC to assure the quality of peanuts her customers would receive. Ultimately, Dot's specification for the largest peanuts from the crop and those that were too large to go through the peanut planting equipment became a new and highly sought after but 'unofficial' USDA grading standard of Super Extra Large.
HJ spent countless after work hours helping Dot manage the volume that grew each year. As an accountant, he was instrumental in developing many of the business processes still in place today. He, with a team of local engineers, developed a valuable batch cooking process that allowed large volumes to be produced in a short window of time so the couple could meet the seasonal demand and still maintain the freshness and high quality expected by their loyal customers.
The Peanut Vine Spreads
As orders with checks began to pour in, the peanut vine spread throughout Virginia, across the country, and even across the oceans. In addition to her robust mail order business, Dot's peanuts were sold in the best of gift shops, clubs, hotels, and restaurants throughout the country. Dot received letters, accolades, and orders from governors and presidents. Hubs were featured in magazines as far away as San Francisco, and touted by food writers and editors such as MFK Fisher and Craig Claiborne of the New York Times. Virginia peanuts were popularized as gourmet gift quality by the introduction of Hubs.
The one thing that the Hubbard family has never lost sight of throughout time is quality. From sourcing the best peanuts of the harvest to ensuring top notch service, the experience of each Hubs customer is paramount and on the minds of every member of the Hubs team. With ever changing technology, advances in the logistics industry, vigilant monitoring of food safety, training and maintaining employee health and safety, safeguarding of private information, increasing government regulations, as well as many other factors of growth and competition, the goal of the Hubbard family and team members is to never lose sight of how and where the journey began. That's not too hard because, today, Hubs are still cooked in Sedley, right where they were originally born.