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Bob Bowman's East Texas

Pittsburg’s Hot Links

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Few East Texas foods are as well-known as those spicy sausages, better known as “hot links,” served at Pittsburg (the one in East Texas).

The hot links were first sold in 1897 by Charlie Hasselback, of German descent, who sold the uncooked links from a building on Pittsburg’s Main Street to customers, who prepared the links for meals at home.

By 1918, Hasselback was serving cooked links with crackers on heavy butcher’s paper. A special hot sauce was served in soda pop bottles. Hasselback’s customers could eat the links on the spot or carry them home, which became popular with the town’s housewives. In those days, the links were sold for two for a nickel, five for a dime and a dozen for a quarter.

The links’ reputation spread widely and railroad crews on Pittsburg’s two lines scheduled stopovers in the town, and walked up an alley to Hasselback’s store for noon and evening meals. So did truckers from the main highways.

Hasselback sold his business in 1929 to O.O. Smith, who continued to produce the links. Others also started serving hot links, and their reputation kept spreading throughout East Texas.

Gene Warrick got into the hot link business in the 1950s, but sold out a year later. However, by the early 1970s, Warrick was back in business with Jimmy Brooks and they were soon serving 600 pounds of meat a week.

In 1977, Brooks became the sole owner and started serving links under the name of JB’s Hot Links. The company was later incorporated as Pittsburg Hot Links Packers, Inc.

Today, the company prepares and ships out 15,000 to 17,000 pounds of hot links a week for retail sales throughout Texas.

Someone once figured out that if Pittsburg hot links were made 40 hours a week and the production was spread out over 24-hour days for a year, the output would average 13 raw links a minute.

Today, other hot links are served elsewhere in East Texas, but the links in Pittsburg are still the champs.


Bob Bowman's East Texas
December 19, 2010Column.
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
Related Topics:
Texas Food | Texas People | East Texas | Texas Town List | Texas |
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of almost 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
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The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
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