Memories small towns Smoky Mountains Travel

Bush’s Visitor Center

The word “beans” sometimes refers more than the wide variety of legumes that grace our dinner tables. You can say you don’t give “beans” about a subject. Or you can say you are making “beans.” The Bush family has made beans literally and figuratively from their long line of products that date back to 1908.

On my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains to celebrate a half century of life a couple of years ago, the Bush’s Visitor Center was on my list. It’s about 19 miles from Pigeon Forge and our favorite hotel so I talked myself out of going. But my husband persisted since it was all I talked about when planning the trip. Give a gold star to the hubs because we would have missed the best part of our trip.

I love history and learning and Bush’s Visitor Center did not disappoint. I was fascinated by the short film that showed beans and the fixings in big vats ready to be canned and shipped around the world. Interspersed with the bean-making story was the story of the Bush Family. I had no idea the company offered anything but beans! But no more spoilers. You need to see the film for yourself.

After the film, you can visit the museum to learn more. The bean can tunnel—pretty cool!

bean can

For marketing professionals, the story of the company’s popular campaign featuring Jay Bush and Duke is inspiring. I would love to have a talking dog represent me but I am not sure where to find one. Sadly, Duke passed away after our visit. And Jay now has a beard!

me and bush

At the end of the tour, you get a free picture. The young lady making the pictures was so nice and let us take it until we had one we liked.

Of course, you need a “beautiful bean” souvenir. The prices in the general store were very reasonable. I purchased a couple of things and spent less than $10!

Okay, I have not even got to the best part. A café adjoins the museum and general store. I think the hubs had eyed a KFC in Sevierville and was ready to ease on down the road. But it was 1 p.m. and the pound of bacon I ate at the breakfast buffet in Pigeon Forge was beginning to wear off so we gave it a shot. We were so glad we did.

No surprise that when you are seated you are given a small serving of baked beans! I was off my diet so I ordered sweet tea. I am not exaggerating—the best tea I have ever had! The $7.99 special was chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and green beans. I was expecting a Zaxby’s style meal. Again, I was so glad I was wrong! See for yourself!

bean lunch

We were there on a Tuesday and the crowd was mostly older people. Several church vans were in the parking lot when we arrived. I think kids will enjoy the museum and a little dose of history never hurt anyone! Besides that, the drive to Chestnut Hill is gorgeous.

We are going back to the Smoky Mountains for my birthday again this month. I am always on the lookout for out-of-the-way treasures and places. What are some of the secret places you like to visit?

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