Amongst the beautiful scenery of Chestnut Hill, TN, lies the foundation for the famous Bush’s Best Baked Beans secret family recipe, and although the recipe would sell for a pretty penny these days, Bush Brothers & Company was not always the mega-manufacturer of canned beans. In fact, AJ Bush began his canning career in Jefferson County in 1908 with the help of a few tomatoes and a single general store.

A History of Bush’s Beans 

Bush’s Beans has established themselves as the majority shareholder of the canned bean market, and the road to get to this place has been long and winding. While Bush Brothers & Co. is now headquartered in Knoxville, TN, Andrew Jackson (AJ) Bush began this journey in the small farming town of Chestnut Hill, TN.

Humble Beginnings in Chestnut Hill, TN

Chestnut Hill, TN, is the birthplace of this American classic; however, baked beans weren’t always an item on the menu. AJ Bush first entered the canning industry in 1898 when he opened his first general store and tomato cannery. AJ’s canned tomatoes were such a success that  he officially incorporated Bush Brothers & Co. in 1908, and it has been family-owned ever since. During the 1920s, Bush Brothers experimented within the canning industry, branching out from canned tomatoes into peaches and more. Eventually, they found themselves canning beans and developing the now famous baked bean recipe that we all know & love today. 

Beautiful Beans

Bush’s Beans became a big hit, due in part to a famous advertising campaign that began in 1994, featuring AJ’s great-grandson Jay Bush and his golden retriever friend, Duke. Heralded as one of the best advertising campaigns of the 90s, the baked bean commercial showed a loveable golden retriever named Duke scheming to get his paws on the famous secret recipe to sell to the highest bidder! You may even remember its famous slogan— “Roll that beautiful bean footage!” 

Inside of the Bush's Bean Museum in Chestnut Hill, TN, this specifically is a photo of one of the exhibit pieces

Bush’s Best Baked Beans has had to come quite a long way to make itself known as a staple in so many homes. From the humble beginnings of AJ Bush canning tomatoes for his general store, to Bush’s  Baked Beans being the majority shareholder in the canned beans market today, the hard work of Bush Brothers & Co. has not gone unrewarded. So, next time you pick up a can of Bush’s Best Baked Beans, think about how far those beans have come to be sitting on your family’s dinner table.  

What is the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace?

In Chestnut Hill, TN, the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace is a beautifully preserved window into the past. AJ Bush lived with his wife, Sallie, in this home that they built together in 1909, just one year after the incorporation of Bush Brothers. Not lacking in charm, the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace allows for visitors to understand what the lives of AJ and Sallie Bush were like during the beginnings of Bush Brothers. 

Once a  year, the historic Homeplace opens to the public to experience an old-fashioned Christmas. Across from the Bush’s Visitor Center and Café, the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace is the perfect addition to a December day spent browsing the Bush Brothers’ memorabilia and learning about the history of the famous company. Stepping into the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace allows for guests to picture life in the beginning of the 20th century in East Tennessee. 

Visit the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace in Jefferson County, TN

This holiday season, experience the AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace in all its glory. At the Bush’s Homeplace Open House, you can expect to be transported back in time to when AJ Bush first set out to create a brand that has become a staple in so many homes across the globe. The home is open to the public from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. beginning Wednesday, December 15 through Saturday, December 18th. 

After visiting the Homeplace, be sure to stop by the Bush’s Visitor Center to learn more about the history of the company, and you won’t want to miss out on one of their lunch specials at the café where you can get a slice of their famous pinto bean pie. You can even make it an event for the whole family (and we mean the whole family) by calling 865-509-3077 to book a group tour. To learn more about the upcoming AJ and Sallie Bush Homeplace Tour, visit our website or contact us today.

Inside of the AJ & Sallie Bush Homeplace of Bush Beans
Pinto Bean Pie from Bush's Beans
photo of Duke the Bush's Beans dog sitting on a counter in a general store