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It started in the late ’60s, just off Highway

109. A filling station that also sold souvenirs

and homemade biscuits and pies.

Enter Dan Evins, a local oil company

jobber, who saw the potential of a place that

embodied “welcoming country values.”

Part restaurant, part store… the concept

harkened back to the day when folks

gathered around the barrel of crackers at

the old country store.

Early on, Dan was already looking down

the road. He saw a place with big open

fireplaces, oil lamps on every table and

front porches full of rocking chairs. But the

real brilliance was born out of Evins’ idea to

locate the brand alongside the interstate.

Long car trips were taking America by

storm, and people needed a place to stop,

stretch their legs and have a bite to eat.

But to make this idea a historic success, it

would take innovation and creativity. And it

definitely needed a logo.

The original version of the Cracker Barrel

mark, much like what still exists today, was

designed by Bill Holley, a freelancer for

what was then called Buntin & Associates

in nearby Nashville. This inspired the same

partnership that would later hatch the

unorthodox idea to use billboards to tell the

brand’s story along the interstate.

The roots for telling the Cracker Barrel

story to the country also grew deep

beneath the city where country was born.

Music Row legend Chet Atkins was signed

as an early spokesperson for the brand.

Atkins frequently bantered on broadcast

TV and radio commercials with Dan Evins’

own uncle, Uncle Herschel – who was a

nearby resident and the namesake for the

Uncle Herschel Breakfast.

The music connection struck a chord, and

the soundtrack for the brand was often

told in song. There were Atkins’ signature

guitar licks in TV spots, album deals with

local musicians, sponsorships of the Grand

Ole Opry and even a television show called

“Path to Stardom,” airing on TNN – The

Nashville Network. That’s right, long before

the show “Nashville,” Cracker Barrel had

already begun spreading the word about

the city on national TV.

Over the years, artists from Alison Krauss

to Smokey Robinson, Alan Jackson to

Martina McBride and many more signed

with Cracker Barrel. Which meant lots of

satisfied customers drove away with both

the values of good country cookin’ and

good country music.

Today, Cracker Barrel has evolved to

keep pace with our ever-changing culture,

consumer generations and trends just as

Nashville has… and like Nashville, Cracker

Barrel has grown. From a single location to

well over 600 old country stores, across the


Walk in to a Cracker Barrel now, and you’ll

find menus that offer alternative dishes

and freshly-sourced ingredients… unique

digital and social media brand experiences

plus advertising across all channels that has

kept the brand culturally engaging – giving

modern relevance to this old country store.

Through all of this success and expansion,

Cracker Barrel has always honored its

hometown country values. In fact, there

are very few brands that have taken a seat

at our breakfast, lunch and dinner tables

the way we’ve seen Cracker Barrel Old

Country Store do.

And while times have certainly changed,

and the restaurant industry has evolved and

grown, the values that built this brand have

maintained their unique authenticity. And

that unto itself is pretty darned cool. In fact,

you might say, it’s the stuff of Legend.

Which is why tonight, the American

Advertising Federation of Nashville is

honored to present the Legacy Award to

our friends and neighbors at Cracker Barrel

Old Country Store.