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Each week on the Junior Curators blog, we travel back in time to a different place in Tennessee history. Stories may be about a famous person, place or event from Tennessee’s past. They will include things like priceless artifacts, pictures, videos, and even some games. Be sure to better understand the story by answering the questions at the end of each post.
After learning the story, be sure to share what you've learned with your parents, family, or friends. Try making your own exhibit about it, shooting a movie, or writing a story about it. Let your creativity run wild!
by Emilee Dehmer
East Tennessee: Bush’s Beans Visitor Center and Museum, Chestnut Hill
There are so many cool and exciting places in Tennessee. So many, that you might not know about them all. That’s what Go See Tennessee is all about. We’re here to tell you about places we think are neat and that you might want to visit too. It might be helpful to make a “Go and See” List, and whenever you read about a place that sounds cool, write it down, to help you remember it for the future. Ready for this week’s place? Let’s go!
Beans. These tiny little foods are packed full of protein and can be served up in a number of different dishes. One of the most popular types of bean is the baked bean. And Bush’s knows a thing or two about them. So if you like beans of any kind, this is a must add to your “go and see” list.
You may have seen the Bush’s Baked Beans Cans in the grocery store!
The Bush family didn’t start out in the baked bean world. Back when the company started in 1904, they were just a tomato cannery in Chestnut Hill, TN. As time went on, they added more foods to their company, including selling pork and beans starting in 1934. The beans became so popular for the company, they began to offer different types and flavors. Now they have so many different flavors, they take up multiple shelves in the store!
The Visitor Center and Museum is in the original A.J. Bush and Company general store next to the bean factory. At the museum, you can go inside a giant can of beans and see how they are made! There is also a café where you can try out dishes that feature beans. You can even try their special recipe, Pinto Bean Pie.
The giant bean can that you can go inside of, featuring Jay and Duke!
What makes Bush’s Baked Beans so special? The secret family recipe, of course! While great-grandson Jay Bush isn’t telling anybody the recipe, his dog Duke might be a different story. Commercials for Bush’s Beans tell the story of the two of them fighting about sharing the recipe, and you can watch some of it unfold here:
So if you’re on your way to the Smoky Mountains, and you haven’t bean, this is definitely a place to stop. Make sure to check out the gift shop where they sell different flavors of beans you can’t find anywhere else. Be there or bean square.
Emilee Dehmer is an Educator at the Tennessee State Museum.