According to the American Peanut Council, Dorothy "Dot" Hubbard was a trailblazer in terms of popularizing a peanut product, but she was also a female entrepreneur in a time when that was rare. Dot Hubbard, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 76, was honored posthumously on June 24 at the 2019 USA Peanut Congress with the APC's Lifetime Achievement Award. Mrs. Hubbard, who founded Hubbard Peanut Company in Sedley, Virginia, maker of the Hubs brand, perfected her unique family recipe and pioneered a technique for cooking Virginia peanuts that has become the industry standard for the gourmet Virginia-type peanut we know today according to Sid Levy, chairperson of the APC, in presenting the award. Hubbard's daughter, Lynne Rabil, President of Hubbard Peanut Company accepted the award.
In his remarks Levy recognized that the Hubs "home cooked" brand that Hubbard introduced 65 years ago culminated in the creation of a market category of gift quality peanuts often referred to as 'gourmet'. Ultimately, her specification for the largest peanut from the crop has become a new and highly sought after 'unofficial' USDA grading standard of Extra Extra (super) Large.
Dell Cotton, Executive Secretary, of the Virginia Peanut Growers nominated Hubbard for the award. "Dorothy Hubbard was the first to make this type of peanut product accessible to anyone who wanted a Virginia peanut. Not only did her company grow, but it also led to the development of multiple gourmet processors in the Virginia/Carolina area that make up an integral part of our Virginia peanut industry. We can credit the foresight of the Hubbards for being the catalyst for and a large part of this industry for which our V/C farmers are so proud."
In accepting the award, Rabil said, "We are so proud of Dot and only wish she could have known this day would come. Whenever I think of someone starting a business from scratch, I think of Dot. She began by literally hand skinning peanuts in her tiny kitchen and as her business grew, she outsourced that step to other women around the community. With a set of twins, my brother, and me in tow, she drove around every morning picking up pans of peanuts. From there she grew into having truckloads of raw blanched peanuts delivered to Sedley."
According to Rabil, her mother had a vision of sharing high quality...very high quality.... peanuts that could be packaged and given as a gift. As word spread, she had to figure out the best way to ship these gifts. Rabil said, "Remember, this was before zip codes, FedEx, credit cards, or computers and it was also at a time when if a woman worked, it was usually as a teacher (which my mother had been), a secretary, or as a nurse....not developing a home based business ....which is quite the trend today!"
Rabil reminisced, "We have a photograph hanging in our office of Pope John Paul in Vatican City receiving a large tin of Hubs in a private audience with one of our customers. There were magazine and newspaper articles from famous food editors in San Francisco, Chicago, and NY including MFK Fisher and Craig Claiborne. We have received letters from Presidents of the US and governors, including a letter from the 1973 Southern Governor's Conference in Alabama where the wife of Georgia Governor Carter wanted to know the cooking secret for those peanuts that she had received from our Virginia Governor. The story from the White House was shared with us that President George H W Bush gave Hubs to the Prime Minister of Japan as a gift at the close of a major trade deal. "
After 65 years, Hubbard Peanut Company, Inc. remains in Sedley, Virginia where the original home has expanded into offices and production facilities. It continues to be owned and managed by the Hubbard's children and grandchildren.
The American Peanut Council is a trade association based in Washington, D.C. Members include peanut growers, shellers, brokers, manufacturers and organizations that provide goods and services to the industry. The Peanut Congress, held annually, is a gathering of industry representatives from the United States and abroad.