Monday, January 4, 2010

Ellis Bros. Pecans
Vienna, Georgia

Off a quiet two-lane country road, just past a crooked sign that reads “Slow, Congested Area,” and opposite a patch of spindly cotton shrubs that borders a broad, dormant field, a notice posted on the trunk of a pecan tree reads, "Please do not pick up the pecans. Go into the store and purchase them.”

Below the tree, thousands of pecans lay scattered across the grass and the parking lot outside Ellis Bros. Pecans in Vienna (pronounced vie-eh-na), Georgia. With a noisy leaf blower, a young grove worker dressed in dungarees, a straw hat and work boots blows the dust and the fallen pecans off the pavement. Then a second worker rolls a small wire basket across the lawn to collect the loose nuts. His contraption resembles the noisy little popcorn popper toys that toddlers often push across the floor.

During the short drive to Ellis Bros. from Interstate 75 this November afternoon, I noticed an elderly woman on Tippettville Road with a similar implement, collecting fallen pecans beneath a tree at the roadside. Her car sat a few yards away on the grassy shoulder, beside a small orchard of persimmon trees where the orange ripened fruit hung like tiny pumpkins from the sagging branches.

Inside the store, long rows of banquet style tables extend from front to back, each one laden with plastic bags and containers filled with pecan delights. Aside from premium confections like the pralines and turtles, nearly every food product offered for sale is available for sampling. I browse and join the handful of other customers who taste dozens of varieties of pecans, from raw to roasted, from glazed to chocolate covered, from spiced to jalapeno, from cinnamon to yogurt coated. One slender young woman makes her way down the aisles, tasting sample after sample and savoring every bite. Meanwhile, her husband stands by, swinging an empty shopping basket.

In addition to nuts, Ellis Bros. offers homemade jellies and syrups, home baked pies and cookies, fresh fruit, ice cream and more. A sign on the back wall of the store reads, “Pecan wood for sale. Ask clerk for details.” Souvenirs include a line of biblical themed neckties, and tee shirts emblazoned with a clever imitation of the popular milk ad slogan. They read, “got nuts?” Well, half-an-hour and $32 later, I’ve “got nuts,” and they’re packed in plastic bags, ready for the drive home.

from 2008


  1. Ellis Bros. is a highlight of our trip down to Florida. Not only can you sample all sorts of great pecans, it offers an opportunity to casually walk through a pecan grove and cotton field - things we can't do up north.