Stephanie Stuckey Discusses The Power Of Telling Your Brand’s Story


Washington — “Once Upon A Time.” These four words combined are magical. They trigger memories of being read bedtime fairy tales and feeling safe and warm. From childhood on, we are wired to respond emotionally to storytelling. Yet, too often, we grow up and lose touch with that inner superpower to convey meaning and connect with others through our personal experiences.

I grew up in a family of storytellers. I think as a Southerner, it’s as much a part of who I am as kudzu and red clay soil. I remember sitting on the front porch after Sunday supper hearing tales that became family lore and thinking that was just as entertaining as watching a tv show.

Two years ago, when I made an unexpected career pivot to buy my family’s failing pecan candy and snack business, I turned to the comfort of what I knew best as my touchstone to help revive our brand: storytelling. 

After working full days in our candy plant and distribution center, I pored over boxes of my grandfather’s papers and learned how he grew Stuckey’s from a roadside pecan stand to a national chain of more than 350 stores. And it’s by sharing these remembrances that I’ve been able to grow our social media presence from a few hundred followers to more than 85,000, often garnering a million engagements with a single post. This shows that people still crave connections beyond business networking for financial gain — and strive to build a sense of community with shared values and experiences. 

There are several stories I discovered in reading my grandfather’s papers that have resonated with our followers on social media. 

Sharing Stuckey’s Stories 

One of my favorites is how in 1937, when Bigdaddy (as I called my grandfather) first started selling pecans at a little lean-to shed, he had the bright idea to add candy to the mix to drum up sales. He ran home, interrupted my grandmother’s bridge game and told her they needed to start making pralines and divinity. 

While candy trends change, the one constant is the lasting joy and memories our products evoke. Sharing the stories of the people and the families behind our brands is what makes consumers connect with us on an even deeper emotional level.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corp.

Bigmama didn’t know how to make candy, but her bridge club did. Those ladies went into the kitchen, experimented with some family recipes and came up with a Pecan Log Roll among other confections. The Pecan Log Rolls — created after an interrupted card game — turned out to be our most popular candy and continues to be our top seller to this day. 

Those bridge club ladies made all the candy for Stuckey’s until we were big enough to buy equipment and build a real candy plant. My grandparents joked that the bridge club became the candy club, swapping playing cards and iced teas for aprons and sugar. 

I also love the story about how a few months after he started selling the candy at his roadside store, a lady in a red Cadillac sporting Texas plates drove through town. She pulled over at my grandfather’s store and exclaimed: “You must be crazy building a candy store in a cotton patch 10 miles from a dried-up town.” My grandfather later said that was a defining moment for him and made him more determined than ever to succeed. 

These are just a couple of the stories that define our brands and give them sticking power. As I work to turn our business around, I share these memories and build a connection from my family to our customers’ families. What I’ve found is that stories beget stories — in telling them, others are inspired to tell their own families’ connections to the brand.

Consumers Engage With The Brand

One of my favorites is the customer who wrote me about how his family traveled to Florida to watch the launch of the Apollo 11 space flight. It was a long drive and he was exhausted by the time they made it to Cape Canaveral. Too tired to stay awake after one false launch alarm after another, he fell asleep. 

When Apollo 11 was finally about to blast off, his family couldn’t rouse him. Finally, in desperation, his mother shouted: “We’ll give you a Pecan Log Roll from Stuckey’s if you wake up to see the rocket launch!” That did the trick, and he opened his eyes to see the spaceship blast off. To this day, he says can’t see a Pecan Log Roll without thinking of Apollo 11.

We’re so fortunate in the confectionery business to make products that evoke good memories, whether that’s the fun of having Pop Rocks sizzle in your mouth or turning your tongue purple with Lick Em Sticks. 

Stephanie Stuckey

While candy trends change, the one constant is the lasting joy and memories our products evoke. Sharing the stories of the people and the families behind our brands is what makes consumers connect with us on an even deeper emotional level.

Contributor Info: Stephanie Stuckey is CEO of Stuckey’s Corp., a business her family founded in 1937 and later sold. Before re-purchasing the company in November 2019, she worked as a trial lawyer and served seven terms as a state representative in Georgia. She can be reached at [email protected].