What Happened To Hickory Farms Beef Stick? The Full Story

As the holiday season rolls around, many of us fondly remember visiting Hickory Farms kiosks at the mall and picking up their signature beef sticks as gifts for family and friends. However, in recent years, these iconic beef sticks seem to have disappeared from Hickory Farms’ product lineup, leaving beef stick lovers wondering – what happened to Hickory Farms beef sticks?

In this article, we’ll take a nostalgic walk down memory lane to explore the history and legacy of Hickory Farms’ famous beef sticks We’ll discuss when they first appeared, how they became so popular, and why Hickory Farms eventually discontinued them

Whether you’re an old-time Hickory Farms fan or just curious about what happened to this holiday classic, stick with us as we get to the bottom of the mystery of the vanished Hickory Farms beef stick!

A Brief History of Hickory Farms

To understand what happened to the beef sticks, we first need to understand the story of Hickory Farms itself The company was founded in 1951 in Toledo, Ohio by Richard Ransom and his cousin Earl. They started off selling handcrafted cheese at local fairs before opening up their first retail location in Maumee, Ohio in 1959.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Hickory Farms focused on artisanal cheese, fresh meats, and summer sausages. In 1956, they introduced their now-famous beef stick – a 4-pound, smoked summer sausage stick that became wildly popular as a holiday gift and snack By 1964, Hickory Farms was a booming business, with over 250 temporary booths at fairs around the country

The Rise and Heyday of Hickory Farms Beef Sticks

In the ensuing decades, Hickory Farms continued expanding across American malls and became synonymous with Christmas shopping. Their beef sticks in particular were hailed as a delicious, protein-packed snack and perfect stocking stuffer.

At their peak popularity in the 1970s and 80s, Hickory Farms was selling millions of pounds of mail-order beef sticks each holiday season. The smoky, salty snack even became a pop culture icon, referenced in movies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

For many American families, visiting a Hickory Farms kiosk and picking up a fresh beef stick was just as much a holiday tradition as decorating the tree or leaving cookies out for Santa. The beef sticks were Hickory Farms’ signature item, forever linked to nostalgia and the festive season.

Why Did Hickory Farms Stop Selling Beef Sticks?

So why did Hickory Farms suddenly stop selling these iconic beef sticks in the late 1990s and early 2000s? There are a few leading theories and contributing factors:

  • Changing Consumer Preferences: In the 90s and 2000s, consumer snacking trends started shifting towards healthier options like fruit, nuts, and yogurt. Fatty meats like beef sticks declined in popularity. Hickory Farms attempted to adapt by offering some lower-fat snacks, but beef sticks remained their claim to fame.

  • Increasing Competition: Other companies like Harry & David’s and Swiss Colony began offering premium mail-order gift baskets and trendier food gifts. Hickory Farms struggled to keep up.

  • Management and Financial Struggles: In the mid-2000s, Hickory Farms was acquired by multiple firms like the Nebraska-based businessman Randall Larrimore and an Illinois investment firm. The acquisitions led to corporate restructuring and strategic shifts.

  • Closure of Mall Stores: As online shopping boomed in the 2000s, Hickory Farms closed the majority of their mall kiosks, where beef sticks were often an impulse buy. The loss of physical stores meant a distribution dip.

By the early 2000s, Hickory Farms was fading from relevance and their famous beef sticks quietly disappeared from shelves. A changing market and health trends had caught up to them.

The State of Hickory Farms Today

Today, Hickory Farms soldiers on as a much smaller company focused on mail-order and online sales of gift baskets, cheeses, and sausages. They still offer smoked sausages – but their famous original beef stick is no more.

The company was acquired by Mercato Capital Management LP in 2021, signaling more changes ahead. Beef sticks are a relic of their past, kept alive by longtime fans’ fond food memories.

While their beef sticks may be gone, Hickory Farms’ legacy lives on in holiday nostalgia and American food culture. The smoky aroma and salty bite of a Hickory Farms beef stick remains unforgettable for many who grew up enjoying them at Christmas.

Why Do People Miss Hickory Farms Beef Sticks?

For Hickory Farms devotees, it wasn’t just any beef stick – it was the quintessential beef stick. The nostalgic brand was as important as the snack itself.

Here are some of the reasons why Hickory Farms beef sticks were so beloved:

  • Tradition and Nostalgia: They represented the holidays and family memories for generations of Americans. Visiting Hickory Farms was a tradition.

  • Big, Bold Flavor: Hickory Farms beef sticks had a signature smokey, salty, savory flavor. Their flavor set them apart from generic store brands.

  • Quality and Care: They were handcrafted from quality ingredients. Each batch was carefullly smoked and spiced.

  • Fun Gifting: The large, log-shaped sticks made fun gifts to share. Beef sticks were a go-to stocking stuffer for dads or brothers.

  • Snacking Joy: The portability and protein made them a satisfying snack. Kids loved the big sticks!

For many beef stick fans, no other brand has ever truly replaced the nostalgia and taste of a Hickory Farms original.

Where to Find Hickory Farms Beef Sticks Today

Since Hickory Farms quietly stopped producing their signature sticks around 2010, stockpiling old batches or buying them secondhand online may be beef stick devotees’ only hope at this point!

Here are a few places nostalgic beef stick fans may be able to still track down the original Hickory Farms sticks today:

  • eBay: Search for new old stock or open packages being resold. Prices range wildly based on rarity.

  • Amazon: Occasionally unavailable vintage packs pop up, but sell quickly. Prime pantry may yield some forgotten stashes.

  • Specialty Food Stores: The rare butcher or food shop may still have ultra-limited stock of old batches tucked away somewhere.

  • Thrift Stores: Check food or holiday sections for any possible leftover beef sticks from years past.

  • Antique Stores: Retro product merchants sometimes come across unsold Hickory Farms stock complete with original packaging.

For most though, the Hickory Farms beef stick remains a beloved ghost of Christmas past. We’ll just have to keep its smoky, salty memory alive each holiday season.

Other Smoked Beef Sticks to Try

While we may never get the exact original Hickory Farms recipe back, there are some other gourmet beef stick brands keeping the tradition of smoky flavor alive today:

  • Jack Link’s: This popular brand offers smoked “meat sticks” in flavors like Original and Teriyaki. They bring the smoke Hickory Farms fans crave.

  • Oberto: Oberto’s beef jerky sticks pack a peppery kick and satisfying chew. Their “Old Tyme” smoking process rivals Hickory Farms.

  • Kingsford: Specializing in smoked meats, Kingsford’s beef sticks capture a nostalgic, savory taste. Their Texas Red variety has some spice.

  • Vermont Smoke & Cure: For small-batch, artisanal sticks, this brand hand smokes premium beef into bold flavors like Peppercorn.

  • Krave: With tasty flavors like Cherrywood Smoke and Jalapeno Cheddar, Krave puts a modern spin on the beef stick.

While it’s always hard to replicate nostalgia, these creative beef stick makers are keeping old traditions alive using age-old smoking and drying techniques. The next best thing to a vintage Hickory Farms beef stick may be just a click away.

The Enduring Appeal of Hickory Farms Beef Sticks

So why do Hickory’s beef sticks still hold such appeal today? Yes, they invoke holiday nostalgia for many Americans. But there’s something more inherently satisfying about the snack that has cemented its place in food culture:

Simplicity: In today’s sea of eccentric flavors and fusion foods, the straightforward smoked beef stick has comforting simplicity. Just beef, smoke, and salt.

Heartiness: A substantial, protein-packed snack. Far more filling than flimsy store-brand sticks.

Portability: They traveled well in bags and lunchboxes for quick, meaty snacks at school or work.

Friendly sharing: The large size encouraged ripping off bites and passing around among family. A group snack.

Tradition: Associated with holidays, fairs, and family time. Traditions have gravitational pull, even when products change.

At the end of the day, Hickory Farms beef sticks remind us that simple, time-tested snacks sometimes just hit the spot. Perhaps that irreducible appeal is why so many still crave this humble retro treat today.

Can Hickory Farms Beef Sticks Make a Comeback?

Many loyal fans surely wonder: In today’s world of retro revivals and artisanal comebacks, is there hope of ever seeing Hickory Farms beef sticks return in all their smoky glory?

Unfortunately, that prospect seems rather unlikely at the moment. Since being acquired by an equity firm in 2021, Hickory Farms has continued moving farther away from their roots as a specialty meat purveyor. Beef sticks would not align with their more upscale, gift box-focused model today.

However, never say never! Perhaps if enough nostalgic customers voiced interest, Hickory Farms would consider a throwback line or limited run of their famous beef sticks. Meat trends like old school butchery and smoking have circled back around in recent years. Enough demand might persuade Hickory Farms to revisit their roots.

For now, those craving that distinctive Hickory Farms flavor will have to make do with imitators and memories. But if beef stick fans make it known, perhaps this holiday classic could one day make a comeback!

Hickory Farms Beef Sticks: A Nostalgic Treat

In conclusion, the story of Hickory Farms’ famed beef sticks took this nostalgia-filled journey:

  • Early Days: Beef sticks launched in the 1950s and slowly grew to become Hickory Farms’ signature.

  • Heyday: By the 70s and 80s they were a holiday staple gifted and enjoyed across America.

  • Decline: Changing tastes led Hickory Farms to quietly stop production in the early 2000s.

  • Today: Devoted fans’ memories keep the beef sticks’ spirit alive, though finding them is now rare.

  • Future: Calls for a comeback have yet to sway Hickory Farms, but hope remains.

For many Americans, Hickory Farms and their beef sticks are forever linked to memories of holidays past. The smoky snacks may be gone, but they linger on in nostalgia and food history. So this season, whether you’re enjoying an ultra-rare original Hickory Farms beef stick, a modern replacement, or just fond memories, savor a taste of yuletide nostalgia.

Unbiased Review Hickory Farms Beef Summer Sausage 10 Ounce


Who owns Hickory Farms now?

Its owner, Modjule LLC, is also headquartered in Chicago.

Can you eat the casing on hickory farm summer sausage?

The casing is made of food-grade paper. We recommend removing it before enjoying the summer sausage, but it is perfectly fine to consume.

What is the best summer sausage?

Old Wisconsin Premium Summer Sausage If you want a classic summer sausage that’s a mix of beef and pork, this is the best summer sausage out there. It’s very savory with lots of spices in the mix. The texture is somewhere between salami and bologna. It’s a real crowd-pleaser.

Does Hickory Farms have smoked meat?

There’s nothing quite like the fine taste and smoked flavor of this renowned meat product. Great for cooking or just plain snacking, it’s found only at Hickory Farms of Ohio. DON’T MISS: Charming classic Christmas treats to give: Vintage holiday recipes from the 1960s

Is Hickory Farms beef summer sausage dry?

Beef summer sausage is semi-dry, while dry salami is drier, but both are a type of cured, smoked meat. All our smoked meat selections are expertly curated and use high-quality ingredients to deliver excellent flavor every time. Hickory Farms beef summer sausage makes great holiday gifts, but it’s also great to have on hand in your own pantry.

What size is Hickory Farms summer sausage?

Hickory Farms summer sausage comes in a 26 oz size that’s perfect for parties, beef snack sticks that are easy to grab and go, and spicy summer sausage if you prefer your beef snacks with a little kick. Summer sausage and cheese makes a great hearty snack or party appetizer because all our beef summer sausages are ready to eat.

Why should you buy a food gift Pak at Hickory Farms?

The food gift paks feature quality specialty foods including the exclusive Beef Stick Summer Sausage and a number of fine cheeses for which Hickory Farms of Ohio is famous. Such gifts are appreciated for quality goods appeal to everyone. ALSO SEE: 12 abandoned malls & the history of their heartbreaking decline

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