NASCAR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
The Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog is a fan favorite and long standing tradition that dates back to 1947. More than 50,000 hot dogs are sold over one weekend alone. This iconic dog includes our Southern Style Red Hot Dog and as well as the Jesse Jones Chili.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR
Jesse Jones is has played a vital part in North Carolina's state fair for over 50 years. Our famous foot long hot dogs are something customers look forward to every year.
Farming was the first love of Major Jones’ family for generations. Major Jones was born in Dry Fork, in the foothills of Virginia, near Danville in 1881. He became a businessman at the early age of 19; and added “Jesse” to his name (Major Jesse Jones) so that the city people would not think of him as being in the military service. Major Jones spent his entire life at Dry Fork and Danville.
In addition to farming, Major Jones was a country merchant for years. The birth of JONES SAUSAGE (trademark later changed to Jesse Jones) resulted in his retirement from the country store. Upon retirement as a country merchant Jesse Jones commenced to raise pigs as a past time. Before long, he was confronted with another problem. There were more grown pigs than his family could consume; and it was before a livestock market was established in the area. The question “What’s to be done with all the grown pigs?” arose. Jones then realized that he was in the position to give the city people a sausage which they enjoyed only when they visited their folks in the country at “hog killing time.” He could provide sausage lovers with fresh sausage the year round in lieu of eating canned sausage in jars during the spring and summer months.
Jesse Jones immediately experimented to see how the public would respond to his idea of providing “Whole Hog Sausage” to the city folks year-round. The distribution was simple as he had a milk route in Danville where he personally delivered buttermilk and butter to his customers’ homes three days a week. With the assistance of his wife, Miss Annie, as she was called in the neighborhood, they ground the whole pig into sausage and wrapped it in plain butter-paper in the family kitchen.
The sausage was accepted with such enthusiasm that the merchants insisted that the sausage be made available for their stores. The advertising was the most effective available and cost very little – word of mouth.
Of course, Jesse Jones could not raise pigs in sufficient number to make enough sausage to meet the demand. That meant that he, and his sons, had to go to the neighboring farms for pigs to be ground into Jones’ Sausage. Whenever people asked Major Jesse Jones why his sausage was so different from other pork sausage on the market his answer was always the same. He would tell them “The ham makes it different.”
Miss Annie put her foot down regarding grinding and packaging so much sausage in her kitchen, so, indirectly, she was responsible for the construction of the first Jones Sausage plant near Danville, VA.
After World War II, Major Jesse Jones made another experiment. He believed that he could process excellent hot dogs and bologna along with his country sausage since quality pork, his first love, and beef are the main ingredients of hot dogs and bologna. Of course, Jesse Jones realized that the better the quality of pork and beef, the better the hot dogs and bologna. It didn’t take long before his hot dogs and bologna were accepted with the same enthusiasm as his county sausage.
Jesse Jones was always optimistic and believed that in one way or another, fate solved all problems. Fate was on his side in the expansion of his business. During 1947, his brother-in-law, George D. Richardson of Raleigh approached him with the idea of bringing his famous pork sausage, hot dogs and bologna to North Carolina. Jesse Jones placed this responsibility on his four sons, namely Earl, Cassell, Garland and Reginald.
Jones Sausage processed its first pound in North Carolina on a 300-acre farm near Garner in February,1947. The business in North Carolina mushroomed overnight. The sons, who did not have the patience of their father, would not wait for word-of-mouth advertising to sell their product. Instead, they commenced to tell the people of North Carolina about their “Down on the Farm Sausage”, hot dogs and bologna through TV, radio and newspaper ads and by flying banners over football stadiums and the North Carolina State Fair.
In any successful business, life is not always a bed of roses. In 1951, the Jones’s were confronted by another family of Jones about the use of “Jones” as a brand name. The Jones’s in Virginia and North Carolina did not see why they could not use their own name in the business that they originated.
In 1955, they decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and that there was no better way of honoring the founder of the business, their father, than by changing the business name to his, Jesse Jones. They also were of the opinion that Jesse Jones would be more popular as a brand name. Their belief proved correct as the business volume grew dramatically. Plans were made to make the change on Major Jesse Jones’ birthday in April 1956. As his birthday approached, plans had not matured as scheduled so the date was postponed to June 15, 1956.
Unfortunately, Major Jesse jones became ill and passed away in May, 1956, before the change was implemented. However, before giving his approval to the name change, Jesse Jones left his sons with these words, “Nothing but the best will ever bear my name.”
At the time, Jesse Jones sausage was wrapped in parchment paper because most people preferred that kind of packaging. Jesse Jones had recently introduced a milder seasoned sausage in this type package – the same butter paper that wrapped the first package of sausage processed by Major Jesse Jones, the founder, and Miss Annie, in their kitchen. At the time it was said that Jesse Jones turned back the pages of history to make sausage like your grandparents used to do “down on the farm.”
The next generation of Jones’s heeded strictly to their father’s policies, i.e. making the best possible pork sausage, hot dogs and bologna; and then pricing them accordingly. One of the Jesse Jones slogans was “COSTS MORE, WORTH FAR MORE.” Over the years, Jesse Jones’ sales increased and, in 1960 the Garner and Danville plant had seen their best years yet.
During the mid-1960’2 the Jones family sold their interest in the Jess Jones company to General Mills who was in the process of if starting a meat packing company to make Slim Jim meat snacks and Penrose Pickled Sausage. This new company, eventually called GoodMark Foods, was to become part of their new “Specialty Foods” division. At the time, General Mills was interested in the Jesse Jones company primarily for its production capabilities. While General Mills owned the rights to the Slim Jim and Penrose brand names, it lacked a plant in which to make the product. Its intent was for the Jesse Jones plant to fill that void.
Over the next several years, General Mills expanded the Garner, NC plant and increased its production capacity to the point where they were able to close the Danville facility and consolidate all production under one roof. The Garner facility eventually evolved into GoodMark’s flagship plant and produced all Jesse Jones, Slim Jim and Penrose products.
In 1981 General Mills decided to disband its “Specialty Foods” Division which consisted of Toms Foods, Donruss Bubblegum and GoodMark Foods. The first to be sold was GoodMark Foods. Four company officers, Ron Doggett, Dave Loge, Hawkins Bradley and Don Axberg, purchased the company and retained ownership for approximately fifteen months, at which point Dave Lodge and Don Axberg sold their interest to Hawkins Bradley and Ron Doggett. The Company remained under the ownership of Hawkins and Ron for approximately eighteen months, when they took GoodMark public. Over the next 10-15 years, the company experienced unprecedented growth in both sales and earnings. To meet this increased demand, the Garner plant underwent several major expansion and renovation projects. The latest, which started in 1998, resulted in the divestiture of the Jesse Jones business by GoodMark. Its Board of Directors decided to focus GoodMark’s energy and resources on its Snack Division and to expand the Garner snack capacity by converting the space dedicated to producing Jesse Jones’ products to space that would be used to produce snack items.
The current ownership began on October 6, 1997, when the company was sold to White Packing
Company of King George, VA. Ironically, there are may similarities in the history of both companies. Both began in 1926... Jesse Jones in Dry Fork, VA and White Packing in Brooklyn, NY. Both companies eventually expanded their production into North Carolina… Jesse Jones to Garner and White Packing to Williamston. Both companies have passed down from father to sons. These traditions and teachings of quality products have only strengthened in the 90+ years of family ownership.