Even if you're a die-hard fan of the Tennessee-based restaurant chain, we're willing to bet at least a few of these tidbits will surprise you.
When Evins opened the first Cracker Barrel, he was working for his grandfather's gasoline business. Back in the late '60s, the interstate road system was still in its nascent stages, and Evins wanted to find a way to better service the needs of drivers, while also expanding his family's oil business. He thought a down-home country store inspired by the ones he'd visited as a boy in Tennessee would be more enticing to homesick travelers than fast-food restaurants.
More Cracker Barrel locations were opened throughout the early '70s, all of which included gas pumps, but when the oil embargo of the mid-seventies hit, new locations were built without pumps. These days, Cracker Barrel is no longer in the fuel game—however, 32 current stores do have electric vehicle charging stations.
All of those tools, signs, photographs and toys that decorate the walls of your local Cracker Barrel? They're all authentic vintage items—no reproductions allowed. Back when the first Cracker Barrel opened, founder Dan Evins asked Don and Kathleen Singleton, a couple who ran a local antiques store, to help him decorate the space in the style of an old country store. Today, the couple's son, Larry Singleton, is still in charge of for new restaurant locations. In fact, Larry runs an entire decor warehouse filled with over 90,000 artifacts at the company's headquarters in Tennessee, where his team restores and archives every fabulous antique item that he purchases.
In the early years, Don and Kathleen would store their vintage finds in Larry's grandparents' bedroom. Now, Larry says he loves visiting the old Cracker Barrel stores that his parents decorated, like Stewarts Ferry Pike in Nashville. Today, he gets a lot of calls from dealers asking to buy various antiques from the stores, but he always says no.
Each restaurant features unique local finds that reflect the community's history, every Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has an ox yoke and a horseshoe hanging over the front door, a traffic light over the restrooms, a deer head over the mantel, and a cookstove used as a display in the retail sections. (CB currently owns 783 cookstoves!)
To keep up with the dusting, Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores are staffed around the clock. When the store closes, a staff comes in to clean and dust everything.
Cracker Barrel restaurants also serve 151 million eggs, 121 million slice of bacon, 56 million pancakes, 37 million portion of grits, 13 million pounds of chicken tenders, and over 4 million Moon Pies annually.
American country stores in the late 19th century stocked barrels of soda crackers, which customers would often gather around to (think of them as the water coolers of their day). The eventually came to refer to the simple, rustic informality and straightforwardness that was characteristic of these conversations and the country stores they took place in.
Have you ever wondered if the Cracker Barrel cheese you see at your local grocery store is affiliated with Cracker Barrel restaurants? It's not. In fact, Kraft Foods—which has sold cheese under the Cracker Barrel label since 1954— against the restaurant chain in 2013 when it licensed its name to a division of Smithfield Foods for a line of meat products to be sold in grocery stores. While the line did not sell any cheeses, Kraft was concerned that customers would get confused by the two similarly named brands. Today, bacon, hams, deli meats, baking mixes and more are available at grocery stores under the CB Old Country Store™ brand to avoid confusion.
Cracker Barrel often to release exclusive albums that can be purchased at its Old Country Stores and on its website. In addition to working with singers like Alabama and Alan Jackson, the chain teamed up with the one-and-only Dolly Parton to release a two-disc album titled in 2012, which went on to be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Cracker Barrel also released Dolly's Backwoods Barbie Collector's Edition disc in 2008.
The rocking chairs that populate the front porches of every Cracker Barrel are made by the , a five-generation family business that was founded in 1834 in Springfield, Tennessee. Andrew Hinkle, the company's founder, was a farmer who made ladder back chairs in the off-season to supplement his income. In 1932, the family gave up farming in order to . The chairs are the chain's top seller.