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Tiny town of Brundidge preserves its peanut butter-making history

These days, few kids makes it through childhood without eating some PB&Js. But in the 1920s, peanut butter was a unique food item and the tiny Pike County town of Brundidge, with fewer than 1,000 residents at that time, was about to become one of the country’s largest peanut-butter making hubs.

In 1928, J.D. Johnston of Brundidge noticed peanut butter was fast becoming a popular food item and opened a mill in 1929 in hopes of taking advantage of the marketing trend. The preserved Johnston Mill is shown above.

“J.D. Johnston realized that peanut butter was gaining popularity as a tasty, inexpensive source of protein so he set up a crude machine in the small upstairs area of a wood-frame building just off Main Street and started one of the first commercial peanut butter mills in the Southeastern United States,” according to a website for Brundidge’s peanut butter history. “Peanut butter’s popularity spread and the Johnston Peanut Butter Mill flourished. Before long the mill was shipping out more than 2 million jars of the popular foodstuff each year.” The photo above shows the interior of the preserved mill.

Not to be outdone, Brundidge brothers with a similar name open their own mill a few years later.

“In the early 1930s, brothers, Grady and Oscar Johnson, opened another peanut butter mill on the south end of town and named their company the Louis-Anne Peanut Butter Company after Grady’s children,” the website history said. “The two peanut butter mills provided a giant economic boost to the Brundidge economy and sustained the town during the Great Depression.” Grady Johnson’s children were named Louis and Anise. The sign for the J.D. Johnston Mill is shown above.

A historical marker tells the history of Brundidge’s peanut-butter making industry.


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