If you don't know about Conecuh sausage, consult your nearest Alabaman
With barely 4,000 inhabitants (and slowly dwindling), Evergreen, Alabama isn't all that much to look at, a classically sleepy, ye olde southern town along the railroad tracks, out in the scrubby hinterlands between the old port city of Mobile and the state capital of Montgomery. So why, exactly, is Evergreen so famous?
Sausage, that's why. Evergreen is the seat of Conecuh County, which is an important fact, because if you say the word Conecuh to pretty much anyone in Alabama, their eyes will likely light up, and they'll probably suddenly be hungry, assuming they weren't already.
Conecuh County, after all, is where some of the state's favorite sausage is made, and has been made since 1947 by the same family. Practically hanging over Interstate 65, the plant's hickory-stoked smokers aimed pretty much directly at the traffic passing by on its way to someplace else, the Conecuh Sausage Company reportedly produces upwards of 30,000, 40,000 pounds of sausage each day, along with a range of other products like smoked turkey, ham, bacon, and their special seasoning blends.
It's the sausage, however, that people are most familiar with—pretty much any breakfast joint in Alabama worth visiting offers Conecuh on their menus; once you've had it, smoky with hickory, possessing that delicate snap that comes from all-natural sheep and hog casings, it's hard to put out of your mind. A cynic might put that down to the inclusion of MSG in their special, secret blend of spices that some sleuths have decided includes sage, thyme, red pepper, and anise (among other things), but Conecuh sells an all natural, nitrite-free sausage, too, and it turns out that the thoroughly modern version's pretty great as well.
Conecuh products are now sold in supermarkets around the Southeast, with more than a few sightings well outside the region, but for the full experience, it's worth plotting a detour to home base. The family hadn't originally intended to open a retail outlet, but with all that beautiful smoke billowing out across the highway, passersby began stopping to see what exactly was going on. The store, referred to as the Gift Shop, is crammed full of everything they make on premises, along with a range of other fine Alabama products, including local honey and some extremely good organic grits. Really though, you're here for the sausage—if you're not in possession of a cooler, that's fine, because most days, they've got a hot dog roller going in back, selling a selection of links for a dollar. (Fifty cents more for a bun, and all the fixings.) Best roadside snack for miles around, guaranteed.
This story originally appeared on Foodandwine.com.