Excerpt from Chasing God's River
He wanted to stock up on pecan logs.
The only Stuckeys between San Diego, California and Salida, Colorado was in Grants, New Mexico, ninety miles east of the Arizona border on I-40. Indian land. Navajo. The candy detour added a hundred miles on The Beast's odometer but Wade made up for the time with a flatter route. After Grants, he would swing through Albuquerque, then up Interstate 25 through Santa Fe, over Raton Pass before entering Colorado at Las Animas County.
He remembered the Stuckeys legend ever since he was a boy. The franchise began during the Great Depression in the 1930's. Some good old boy from Georgia named W. S. Stuckey started with an old car converted into a truck and a thirty-five dollar loan from his grandmother. He bought and sold nuts locally until a banker invested in his idea for a roadside stand to lure drivers passing through Georgia on their way to Florida for vacation. To supplement the seasonal supply of pecans, his wife started making other candies. Things went so well, they sold their roadside stand and built three stores until World War II came and he was forced to close his stores because of gas rationing and a rubber shortage. (What rubber and candy have to do with each other is a mystery.) But his candy had caught on. Mr. Stuckey was commissioned to make candy for the military.
After the war, business boomed as Americans started driving again. By the time of his death in 1977, he had over one hundred stores. But after a corporate buy-out, the land his stores were built on was more valuable than profits from the stores. Land that wasn't sold was simply shut down and boarded up or sold to independent operators.
For Wade, the pecan logs were living history. As much a part of Americana as White Castle Sliders, eight ounce bottled Cokes from a reach-in machine and Bonomos Turkish taffy. Bonomos wasn't really taffy, but a kind of nougat. It came in four flavors - chocolate, strawberry, banana, and vanilla. Wade knew a place in Vermont for it.
“A little out of my way this trip,” he smiled. He'd settle for the Stuckeys taffy.